WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
Naturopathic doctors are trained in a wide variety of functional medicine and integrative therapies, including:
- Clinical Nutrition and Diet
- Vitamins, Amino Acids, Minerals, Enzymes, and Nutraceuticals
- Health and Lifestyle Counseling
- Herbal and Homeopathic Medicine
- Physical Medicine such as Massage, Bodywork, Exercise Therapy, and Hydrotherapy
- Counseling and Behavioral Therapies
In addition, ND’s in California can prescribe all hormones. They can order other prescription drugs in collaboration with a medical doctor.
A Naturopathic Doctor may be right for you if you are looking for any or all of the following:
- A doctor trained in nutrition and functional medicine
- A holistic approach to your health
- A treatment for chronic conditions
- A medical professional to take the time to listen
- Bio-identical hormones, a natural option for hormone replacement
- Education regarding prevention and health management
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct and comprehensive system of primary health care that uses natural methods and substances to support and stimulate the body’s self-healing process. It is distinguished by the principles on which its practice is based. These principles include:
First, Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)
Naturopathic doctors choose the most non-invasive and least toxic treatments necessary for each patient.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
Naturopathic doctors recognize the body’s inherent ability to heal itself.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle causam)
Naturopathic doctors identify, address and remove the underlying causes of disease.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Educating and supporting patients on personal health management is an important role for naturopathic doctors. They empower patients to take responsibility for their own health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle totum)
This is a holistic concept that recognizes the body as an integrated whole. Naturopathic doctors treat the patient, not the disease. A naturopathic assessment addresses the nutritional status, lifestyle, family history, physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors in a person’s life.
Naturopathic doctors promote a focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.
As seen in the Naturopathic Principles, a Naturopathic Doctor’s training and philosophy includes what is now known as Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A VISIT TO A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR
A typical first visit with an ND lasts 90 minutes and includes taking a relevant health history, conducting an appropriate examination, and making recommendations for treatment. It may include gathering information such as laboratory test results, medical records, a diet diary, and other information. Follow-up visits usually last 45-60 minutes depending on the health issues being addressed, therapies being utilized, and other treatment goals.
When working with a naturopathic doctor, plan to be actively involved in your treatment. Your ND may work with you to change your diet or exercise habits, teach you ways to reduce stress, as well as supplements, vitamins, herbs, and other medicines and treatments to help you meet your goals. Ask questions about your treatment and inform your ND about signs of improvement or stubborn symptoms. Your ND may consider further diagnostic tests, changes in your treatment plan, or referrals to other health care professionals.
Naturopathic medicine is taught in various naturopathic medical schools throughout the U.S. They teach a four year curriculum as would a conventional medical school but they focus on natural treatments using herbs, clinical nutrition, diet changes and time tested naturopathic treatments. Many of these natural treatments are as old as human kind, others are more modern and based on the most current and up to date science.
In order to be licensed as a naturopathic doctor in California, Naturopathic Doctors must graduate from a school accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education that offers a graduate degree of Doctor of Naturopathy or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. The education requirements consist of at least 4,100 hours of training, of which not less than 2,500 hours are academic training and not less than 1,200 hours are supervised clinical training. ND license candidates must also pass a licensing exam that is administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners.
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