What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Simply put, Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct system of primary health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic treatment draws from a number of modalities and is tailored to each individual patient. Treatments may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical treatments, acupuncture and Asian medicine, lifestyle counselling, or a combination of these.

The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:

  1. First do no harm
  2. Co-operate with the inherent self-healing ability of the body (Healing Power of Nature)
  3. Identify and treat the cause
  4. Doctor as teacher: teach the principles of healthy living
  5. Treat the whole person through individualized treatment
  6. Emphasize disease prevention

1.  First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic doctors follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:

  • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
  • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms;
  • Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.

2.  The Healing Power of Nature: Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

3.  Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

4. Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic doctors educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health.  They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.

5.  Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic doctors treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors.  Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.

6.  Emphasize Disease Prevention: Naturopathic doctors emphasize the prevention of disease -assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.

What Can It Be Used To Treat?

Naturopathic Doctors are primary healthcare practitioners therefore they are trained to treat both acute concerns and chronic health conditions.  Since naturopathic medicine is one of the only professions to emphasize health prevention, naturopathic doctors work with their patients to optimize health rather than just avoid disease.  Therefore, you do not have to have a specific health concern to see a naturopathic doctor.  In that case, your naturopathic doctor will work with you to identify aspects of your health that could be further optimized.

What Can I Expect?

Your Naturopathic Doctor will take the time to get to know you as a person, determine your health goals and assess the root of your health issues. Following a thorough health history and physical examination, a doctor’s report will be discussed including treatment expectations.  When necessary, further laboratory testing may be suggested to complete your health picture.  You can expect your Naturopathic Doctor to work with you to develop and carry out a comprehensive, custom treatment plan.  Follow-up schedules vary from person-to-person but will initially be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and will occur less frequently as health goals are achieved and maintained.

More Information: 

Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND)
College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta (CNDA)
Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME)
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)