A naturopathic doctor is a practitioner of naturopathic medicine– a system of primary healthcare focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease using the healing powers of nature.
Naturopathic doctors treat holistically by considering each individual as a whole person, rather than just focusing on one specific symptom, condition or diagnosis. This means considering all the factors that comprise a person’s overall health, including a combination of genetics, environmental exposures, lifestyle habits, diet, exercise history and social/emotional factors. The ultimate goal of naturopathic treatment is restoring balance in the body to promote its natural healing process.
At its core, naturopathic medicine is distinguished by six underlying principles:
- First, Do No Harm: Use the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.
- The Healing Power of Nature: Trust in the body’s intrinsic wisdom to heal itself.
- Identify and Treat the Causes: Look past the symptoms to the underlying cause.
- Doctor as Educator: Inform patients about the steps to achieving and maintaining health and wellness.
- Treat the Whole Person: View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.
- Prevention: Emphasize total health, wellness and illness prevention.
What Can a Naturopathic Doctor Do?
Naturopathic doctors are highly trained diagnosticians that turn to the least invasive and least toxic treatments to address the underlying causes of health conditions– not just the issue itself. By going to the root of the problem, naturopathic remedies support the body’s own ability to prevent and combat illness, inflammation and deterioration.
Naturopathic doctors also practice preventative care. Preventative medicine means developing practices now that help prevent health problems later on. Naturopathic doctors are increasingly being sought out to effectively help their patients establish and stick to healthier practices that will improve their overall long-term health and wellness.
For the millions of Americans with chronic conditions, naturopathic doctors aim to offer relief by providing holistic perspectives and treatment options. They are able to address a wide range of chronic health issues such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, allergies, chronic pain, digestive problems, respiratory issues, fertility issues, menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome.
This has created a spike in popularity for this practice and more support amongst lawmakers to license naturopathic doctors in states across the country. In fact, there are more than 5,000 practicing naturopathic physicians in North America– a number that has tripled in the last decade.
Where can naturopathic physicians work? As a naturopathic doctor, you would be able to:
- Work in outpatient, non-emergency centers
- Have your own practice or work as an associate in a group or integrative practice
- Specialize in areas such as women’s health, pediatrics, internal medicine and more
- Teach at ND medical colleges
- Work in hospitals and specialized facilities that include integrative medicine programs to provide naturopathic therapies to patients in collaboration with traditional medicine
- Work together with MDs, DOs, DCs and various other medical professionals, co-managing patient cases as part of an integrative medical team
- Practice as a primary care doctor in licensed states
What Does Naturopathic Treatment Involve?
Naturopathic doctors use a combination of traditional treatment methods (like conducting minor surgery and requesting labs or x-rays) and holistic therapies (such as leveraging botanical medicine) to manage a broad range of health problems.
Many of the therapies they rely on support the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms. Rather than just treating an individual’s symptoms through naturopathic therapies then sending them on their way, they look for underlying imbalances and the root causes of conditions. Then they have the ability to identify what is truly needed to support and re-balance the body’s natural healing process.
Healing methods for naturopathic doctors can consist of nutrition counseling, botanical medicine, homeopathic therapy, hydrotherapy and minor surgery.
A naturopathic doctor is a kind of primary care provider that focuses on natural, whole-patient healing. When it comes to treatment, naturopathic doctors take a holistic approach and look at the entire person– body, mind, spirit, and emotions– to find the root cause of ailment. If you’re interested in exploring naturopathic medicine as part of your health care journey, make an appointment with America’s natural doctor.