The Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine

For those who have read these articles on a regular basis know that I was not always orientated toward a natural approach in health care. I lived as a junk food junkie. I would pretend to eat correctly while secretly I’d sneak disgusting fast foods. Indeed, I was a connoisseur of grease and trans fats. In addition, my upbringing was totally focused on the medical model. Every week I saw a doctor for allergies. We even vacationed with that doctor two weeks out of every year and my father is a pharmacist. We had every type of drug you can think of in our medicine cabinet.  In high school, I sold drugs door to door. (I delivered prescriptions and oxygen for my father.)

When any personal medical symptom arose, I learned to pop a symptom stifling drug and move on . . . till some new condition raised its ugly head. This new symptom was usually the consequence of indulging in the previous symptom reducing drug. The medical environment I was raised in taught me that synthetic was always better than natural and to treat symptoms rather than the cause.

Later I became convinced that there must be a better way. Rather than thinking of health care as a war against germs and the body as the war zone. I began to understand that the body is more like a house that needs to be refurbished. Home maintenance and upkeep are required. Constant cleaning is needed. When these are provided the home is comfortable and provides wonderful protection against the elements and pestilent invaders. If you give the body the correct resources and environment it will be a wonderful place to live. It will provide health and energy when it is in balance and supported. This approach was a new paradigm for me. Indeed, I moved from the traditional symptom based medical model to the alternative natural based model. What is exciting is that my pharmacist father also made the paradigm shift to natural medicine.

Many in “Alternative Medicine” quote Thomas Edison who said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” This statement is well accepted by those involved with a natural or alternative approach because it encapsulates the general philosophy of naturopathic medicine. We believe in an approach to health and healing that does not rely on drugs, surgery, and/or other conventional medical procedures for treating illness. Rather than looking at the body as a machine or simply a bag of chemicals, Naturopaths address the whole patient. We understand that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected not separate. The natural practitioner’s emphasis is on achieving good health rather than the elimination of disease or treating symptoms. Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on prevention of illness and the use of nontoxic, natural therapies.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. She exists for no other end. Do not resist. With the least inclination to be well, we should not be sick.” Naturopaths focus on diet, lifestyle, and preventive measures rather than invasive heroic measures. We believe that the practitioner must be an empathic and caring partner in the healing process. The days of the detached, emotionally neutral physician are coming to an end. The medical model views the physician as the one who must be in control of the patient’s health decisions while naturopathy believes that the patient is in charge of health care choices and the Naturopathic Doctor is a guide and teacher.

Naturopathic doctors believe in the first tenet of medicine, primum no nocere, first do no harm. A few years back Ralph Nader said that between 100,000 and 300,000 patients are killed by medical mistakes and drug interactions annually. Naturopaths employ only safe and effective natural therapies. Our goal is to release the body’s considerable power to heal itself, to enhance this process with the aid of natural, nontoxic therapies. We identify and treat the underlying cause not the symptom. The symptom is only the body’s attempt to heal: a common cold is the body’s attempt to cleanse itself. The true cause of disease may be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Thus, we must treat the whole person physically, energetically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Naturopathic doctors are primarily teachers. When you come to me, my goal is to educate, empower, and motivate you to assume personal responsibility for your health by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle and diet. This personal instruction is focused on prevention of disease, achieving physical and energetic homeostasis. When we are in balance and harmony health flows. So be encouraged, you can achieve and maintain optimal health.

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