What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Posted by Dr. Leia Melead on Sep 30, 2008 in Healing Modalities |

The basic tenets of Naturopathic medicine can be summed up in the following statements:

  • The healing power of nature
  • First do no harm
  • Threat the whole person
  • Identify and treat the cause
  • Prevention is the best cure
  • Doctor as teacher

Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine which is currently practiced in the United States, Australia, and Europe. It came to America from Europe where there were “Nature Cure” centers or sanitarium spas where people would go to heal and recover from chronic debilitating diseases. These Nature Cure spas strongly believed in the healing power of nature, and the body’s own innate ability to heal itself, when given the right environment and stimuli. These spas would use sunshine, herbs, whirlpool baths, physical therapy, vitamins, healthy natural foods, rest, massage, and relaxation to assist in the patient’s recovery.

Naturopathy evolved along with chiropractic, homeopathy, osteopathy, and allopathic medicine. At the beginning of the 20th century, each of these branches of medicine existed side by side, until the advent of the industrial revolution and the development and expansion of synthetic chemical drugs. Before synthetic drugs came on the scene, there only existed natural herbs and substances known for their specific medicinal and healing properties and which were handed down from generation to generation.

Naturopathy exists today in the United States in the form of practicing licensed naturopathic doctors who have graduated from one of four accredited naturopathic medical schools in the U.S. and one in Canada:

  1. Bastyr University in Seattle
  2. National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon
  3. Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix
  4. University of Bridgeport in Massachusetts
  5. The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada

These medical schools consist of a four-year program of intensive clinical studies and holistic methods of healing and disease prevention. This post-graduate study leads to a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine (ND). Upon graduation, the graduate doctor sits for a national board exam whereby she/he becomes nationally certified as a naturopathic physician. Subsequently, each state is responsible for licensing the physicians. Hawaii is currently one of the 20 lucky US states and Canadian provinces that licenses naturopathic doctors.

Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners who are well trained in the use of botanical supplements, natural remedies, clinical nutrition and diet consultation, hydrotherapy and physical medicine, nutritional and vitamin supplementation, body-mind medicine, homeopathy, and Chinese medicine and herbology.

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