Naturopathic Medicine


healing body, body wisdomEvery body has an innate ability to heal, this is the healing power of nature. Signs and symptoms are often an indication of the body’s ability to correct itself. Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary care that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional forms of medicine to address the root cause of illness and promote health and healing using natural therapies. With training in both Eastern and Western medical knowledge, naturopathic doctors effectively act as both healers and educators to empower and inspire optimal health. Doctor, in fact, comes from Latin docere, meaning ‘to teach’.

Naturopathic doctors look at disease differently. Instead of labeling the disease or the pathology, the focus is on recognizing patterns of imbalance that give rise to physical and emotional symptoms of disease. Individual constitution is always taken into consideration, as well as physiological, psychological, social, or environmental factors. By identifying the underlying causes, treatments can be chosen based on individual needs.

Simply put, naturopathic doctors are doctors who listen to you as an individual.

Naturopathic medicine encompasses a variety of healing modalities and which ones are chosen depend on the individual case. The therapies used in naturopathic medicine are:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the understanding that the body, mind and spirit are intertwined and interact with each other in an intricate network. The body is viewed as having a network of meridians where energy (Qi) flows, the pathways follow a certain direction and systematically connects each organ and body system. Disease occurs when energy flow is disrupted or altered through physical or mental factors or when the body is attacked by pathogenic factors. Herbs, diet and acupuncture are used to restore the proper flow of energy throughout the body, promoting healing by bringing the body back into balance.
Botanical medicine is the use of plants as healing agents. Plants contain many ingredients that have physiological properties in our bodies. Modern medicine has isolated and synthesized many of these plant chemicals for use as drugs. Although the reductionistic view of plants have yielded many useful drugs, the use of the whole plant or specific part is the art of botanical medicine. Herbalism has a long history of use in many cultures. It is this ancient wisdom as well as modern research that allows for their effective use in treating many ailments. Plants may be used internally or externally, either in their raw or dried powdered form, extracted in alcohol or made into teas. The goal of treatment will dictate how the plants are used.
Nutrition forms the basis of good health. Food is our most basic medicine. We require proper nutrition for the body to function optimally. Clinical nutrition is the therapeutic use of nutrients and food. Nutrition is a powerful form of medicine, both in prevention and treatment of diseases. Education in proper diet is an integral part of every treatment. Supplementation may be used to achieve optimal levels of nutrients otherwise not achievable through diet. Orthomolecular medicine is the use of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids in higher doses to have therapeutic effects in the body.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that supports the Vital Force (life energy), analogous to the Qi in TCM. The innate wisdom that allow us to be healthy is guided by this energy. Again, illness occurs when disturbance in mental, emotional and physical aspects weaken our life force. Homeopathy is using the energy of substances found in nature to rebalance our life energy. As a substance is diluted further, the remedy becomes more potent and energetic. The remedy works on the principle of ‘like cures like,’ meaning the remedy is able to cure the symptoms of the sick, just as those same symptoms are produced when the substance is given to a healthy person. It is truly a holistic form of healing, it can help heal the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of a person with a carefully selected remedy. Please see my blog post: ‘What is homeopathy?‘ for more information.
Physical medicine include massage and naturopathic manipulation of joints of the musculoskeletal system. They have a direct effect on structural and functional aspects of the body. Massage improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. Naturopathic manipulation is the adjustment of the skeletal system to correct structural alignment to improvement mobility, decrease pain and improve body system functions.
Water therapy is the use of water to heal. Observations have been made in nature of animals which have used running water from a stream to heal its wounds. Cold water is used to soothe inflammation and muscle strain. The use of heat improves circulation. It is no surprise that water heals as we are made largely of water. Hydrotherapy can improve our immune function, increase our resilience, reduce fever and duration of illness, as well as having a calming effect on our bodies and minds.
Lifestyle counseling is the education and empowering aspect of every doctor-patient encounter. Every interaction is an opportunity to inspire sustainable wellness. This encompasses individualized strategies to effectively incorporate health-promoting habits into daily life. The way we think and act have a profound effect on our mind and body. Lifestyle choices, our emotions, beliefs, and thoughts all have an overall effect on our health. By addressing the way we make choices, cope with our emotions, express behavioral patterns, and the way we interact with the world, we can develop ways to reduce stress and live a more balanced, healthier, happier life.