Naturopathic medicine is growing in importance and accessibility today due to the desire of many individuals to seek out healthier, less invasive methods for healing and overcoming illness and disease. This is a very distinct area of health care, with a unique discipline unlike what most would expect from a traditional doctor. There is a strong emphasis on prevention of illness, treatment and optimal health that focuses primarily on natural therapeutic methods. In short, it encourages the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Where Does Naturopathic Medicine Come From?
Unlike common belief, this type of medicine does not stem solely from one area of practice or belief system. Rather, it is a combination of medicine that includes both traditional and modern methods. It also folds scientific and empirical methods into it as well. All of this has the goal of providing a person with the natural components needed to stimulate self-healing.
Understanding the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
There are several key principles that help define naturopathic medicine.
Healing Power of Nature
The first principle here is called Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the Healing Power of Nature. In short, this states that there is an inherent ability for the body to use a self-healing process. This healing process in people is ordered and intelligent. The goal of those working in this field, then, is to identify and remove any obstacles that are limiting the healing and recovery as a result. And, then to help encourage and augment this self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Cause
The second principle is known as Tolle Causam, or Identify and Treat the Cause. In short, this means not just treating the symptoms a person has, but understanding the underlying cause of those systems and treating that. A physician in this practice should identify and then remove any type of underlying cause that is creating the illness. The goal is never to suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm
Primum Non-Nocere, or Do No Harm, is a key component of naturopathic medicine, as it is with most forms of medicine. The goal here is more inclusive in that there are additional guidelines to achieve this principle. These include first using methods to minimize any risk of side effects, using whatever method is possible with the least amount of force to both diagnose and then treat the condition. Second, it requires avoiding harmful suppression of symptoms whenever possible. Finally, it is required to acknowledge, respect and work with the person’s self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher
One of the most important and yet most misunderstood components of this process is Docere or Doctor as Teacher. In short, the goal is to educate the patient so that he or she is able to focus responsibly on allowing the body to self-heal. That is, The naturopathic physician’s job is also to encourage self-responsibility in the area of health.
Treating the Whole Person
Another strong component of this process is to treat not just a part of a person or one symptom, but rather to treat the entire person based on physical, mental, and emotional components. This also includes all environmental, social, and genetic factors that play a role in a person’s health and wellbeing. It also includes spiritual health in that the naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to seek out their own spiritual development.
Yet another important component of naturopathic medicine is prevention. Preventing disease is always beneficial. This is done by assessing any risk factors that the patient has, such as a susceptibility to illness, and encouraging appropriate interventions to prevent the illness from occurring.
The goal of naturopathic medicine is to provide the person with comprehensive care from diagnostics and treatment to prevention and ongoing care. It includes counseling, homeopathy, acupuncture, intravenous and injection therapy, hygiene, and public health measures alongside naturopathic manipulative therapy. This is a very diverse and incredible area of health.
It all stems from one single belief that the body has the ability to overcome illness or an injury through self-healing. By focusing on this ability of the human body, it is possible to reduce risks associated with invasive treatments or chemical-based medications. For many men and women, this type of care is highly desirable as a result.