On September 10, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution (Sen. Res. 221) designating October 7 – October 13 as Naturopathic Medicine Week. The resolution recognizes the value of naturopathic medicine in providing “safe, effective, and affordable health care…” and encourages Americans to learn about the role of naturopathic doctors in preventing chronic and debilitating conditions.
According to Jud Richland, CEO of American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, “Passage of this resolution is an historic achievement for naturopathic medicine. The Congress has now officially recognized the important role naturopathic medicine plays in effectively addressing the nation’s health care needs as well as in addressing the increasingly severe shortage of primary care physicians.”
Licensed Naturopathic doctors (ND) graduate from a 4 year, fully accredited, medical program. The curriculum includes studies on physiology, pathology, and biochemistry as well as 4 years of nutrition science, botanical medicine, and naturopathic clinical practice. ND’s are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although naturopathic medicine emphasizes the use of natural healing agents first. By utilizing a combination of traditional medical training and a plethora of evidence-based natural healing techniques, naturopathic doctors are the natural choice for today’s changing healthcare climate. A Naturopathic Doctor can serve as your primary physician or as a complementary part of your healthcare team to help support your body through serious health events, such as cancer treatment.
Naturopathic doctors base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence.
- First, do no harm. When possible, do not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s alarm bells and triggers efforts to self-heal.
- Let nature heal. Our bodies have an innate instinct for self-healing. By finding and removing the barriers to self-repair, such as poor diet or chronic stress, naturopathic doctors can support their patients’ own healing capacity.
- Identify and treat causes. Naturopathic doctors understand that symptoms will and do return unless the root cause of the illness is addressed. Rather than band-aid symptoms, they seek to find and treat the cause of these symptoms. Symptoms are the necessary clues to the underlying imbalance.
- Educate patients. Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators as well as physicians. Naturopathic doctors teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility in the healing process.
- Treat the whole person. Spending time listening to the patient is the most fundamental beginning to their healing process. Every patient is unique in their physical, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. ND’s recognize all factors equally affect our health. For this reason, treatment approaches are tailored according to the individual and not just the disease they may have. The treatments are not one size fits all.
- Prevent illness. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been more true. Naturopathic medicine promotes proactive rather than reactive medicine. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, and lives before it’s too late.
Naturopathic medicine has blossomed to new levels of demand as the conventional health care system in the U.S. continues to fail to meet the health needs of our community. As patients seek medicine that promotes healthy lifestyle and prevention of chronic disease rather than quick temporary fixes, naturopathic medicine is positioned in the direction medicine will need to be in the future. From its cost effective nature that is rooted in prevention and education, to the safe non-toxic therapies offered, individuals find naturopathic medicine as the prefect balance between symptom reduction and permanent positive health changes.
Author: Dr. Sonja Fung, ND
Dr. Sonja Fung and Dr. Nicole Ortiz are Naturopathic primary care doctors and the co-founders of Live Well Clinic in La Quinta (behind World Market and Office Depot).