Naturopathic medicine has been around for centuries and this field of medicine has experienced a resurgence in the last several decades.
It’s now considered a viable form of healthcare in many parts of the country.
Although this form of medicine has been around for some time, it’s a new option in healthcare for many people who have not heard about it and should be highly taken into consideration.
Many seek out integrative medicine for prevention and illness that are better treated through changing key components of diet, daily habits and overall lifestyle. Some see a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) as their primary health care provider in various states and some see NDs as part of their overall health care team.
I currently practice in the licensed state of California as an ND and want to address some common misconceptions and myths that prevent people from reaching out to Naturopathic doctors.
The first is that Naturopathic doctors are NOT against standard conventional medicine. This is definitely quite the opposite. Conventional medical doctors, which include your medical family physician and specialists save lives on a daily basis and can effectively treat symptoms and improve your overall general health.
ND’s are not at all against medicines or pharmaceuticals. In fact, we’re licensed to prescribe them when necessary or will work closely with your medical provider to help create the best plan for your needs.
So what is Naturopathic medicine, and is it the right fit for you?
Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on prevention and treating the entire patient as a whole.
Diagnosis is based on identifying the underlying causes of disease, utilizing necessary laboratory tests and physical exam. Natural treatments and therapies with the lowest side effects are the preferred first option and are pulled from peer reviewed journals across many fields including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, and other evidence based disciplines.
Generally, NDs treat using a combination of nutrients, herbal medicine, clinical nutrition, hormones, homeopathy, and pharmaceuticals if necessary.
Currently, Naturopathic medicine is licensed in 17 states. Naturopathic doctors practicing in licensed states have attended four-year post graduate doctorate programs, undergone board testing for licensure, have passed, and maintained all requirements by the state.
Licensed NDs are often considered primary care doctors and have diagnostic and prescription rights. It’s crucial that you ask for credentialing and do your research prior to working with an ND in states that are not regulated and licensed. In unlicensed states, anyone can claim to be an ND, but they’re not always doctors and do not have the 8 or more years of schooling you should expect from your provider.
Naturopathic doctors place an emphasis on lifestyle and a whole person approach
Often it’s the activities that we engage in on daily basis that add up to habits that create either health or disease. Taking a deeper look at how simple changes can affect overall health is the first step.
For example, most people who need or want to lose weight have tried and failed, or lost the weight only to regain it. It’s frustrating! It could be as easy as a nutrition makeover and reducing certain foods that contain hidden sugar to be enough to shift the numbers on the scale.
But if there’s more to the equation, NDs can adjust hormone balance, blood sugar, and other parameters that affect your metabolism that will bring that weight loss goal to fruition.
Naturopathic medicine has many treatment choices for symptoms that remain even when conventional treatments are put in place and can offer the correct guidance for nutrient depletions related to certain necessary medications.
NDs can test for flora imbalance, food intolerances, digestive function, and other labs that are reflective of the body state of health.
Naturopathic medicine is a growing field, and one that can be a useful adjunct to your healthcare in prevention, symptoms relief, and overall healing. Its availability is expanding every year, and once you establish care with a licensed and knowledgeable doctor, I think you’ll agree that Naturopathic medicine is a necessary component for your health care needs.