What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct medical profession that offers both primary and specialized medical care. Naturopathic medicine can best be described by the education of a naturopathic doctor, modalities used, and approach to treatment.
Licensed Naturopathic Doctors (ND/NMD) have attended a 4-year post graduate accredited medical school, taken standardized national board exams in the medical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry) and naturopathic modalities (see below). Once in practice, NDs are licensed and regulated by state naturopathic medical boards.
Naturopathic doctors are trained in a set of treatment modalities that focus on getting to the root of the patient’s condition. See list at right. Because of the significant impact of diet on health, naturopaths often use clinical nutrition as a starting point of treatment. From there, naturopaths can use a variety of the other modalities according to their medical judgment and preferences of the patient. Of particular interest to patients with auto-immune conditions is environmental medicine. This modality recognizes the impact of the environment on health in general and the immune system in particular. In treating an environmentally sensitive patient, naturopaths will work to reduce toxic exposure through diet and lifestyle changes, assess toxic body burden, and use treatments that improve the body’s own detoxification function (e.g., GI status, liver function, chelation therapy). Naturopaths also use conventional as well as specialized laboratory testing and are trained in the use of pharmacology and minor surgery when appropriate. Click Here to learn more. Naturopathic Approach to Treatment. The most significant difference between naturopathic and conventional medicine is in the philosophy of treatment. To a naturopath, the body has an innate ability to heal. The prevalence of most chronic disease is thought therefore to be due to dietary and lifestyle habits and often suppressive drug therapies that prevent normal healing mechanisms in the body. The role of the naturopath is to uncover obstacles that prevent these curative bodily mechanisms. As part of this process, naturopaths recognize the significant impact the patient has on their own health and spends time educating the patient as to why treatments are done and how the patient can become actively involved in their own health.
Naturopathic Medicine at Arthritis Health
Arthritis Health has two naturopathic doctors, Drs. Leslie Axelrod and Keith Wilkinson, on staff. To see what naturopathic medicine can offer you, schedule an appointment today.
Modalities of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine is based on a holistic approach to care that combines some of the best of conventional modern medicine with traditional, safe, and highly effective naturopathic treatment modalities. Naturopathic treatment modalities include:
Clinical Nutrition – Naturopathic doctors believe food is the foundation of good health and will therefore work with the patient to assure their diet is one that supports health. Foods and supplementation can than be used to assist specific metabolic pathways to further guide the body toward health.
Botanical Medicine – The plant kingdom provides an endless sources of natural therapies. Botanical medicines are typically provided in liquid tinctures or dried botanicals in capsule form. In addition to being generally safer alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs, many botanical medicines can be used to stimulate and restore function to numerous body systems.
Physical Medicine – This modality recognizes the importance of skeletal and soft tissue structure for health. By using spinal and joint manipulation techniques similar to a chiropractor, the naturopath can help restore normal joint function.
Acupuncture – This is a 2000 year old form of traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the belief that disease develops when energy (chi) that flows through the body in distinct pathways called meridians becomes blocked. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, chi can be unblocked and the body will return to health. See more on our Acupuncture service page, here.
Environmental Medicine – Regardless of occupation, locality, or personal habits, everyone is exposed to environmental toxins from air, water, and food. The body has mechanisms to eliminate toxins, however in many chronic disease conditions, the body’s elimination pathways have been compromised. Environmental medicine is a modality that recognizes this imbalance and focuses on eliminating further exposure as well as restoring the body’s detoxification pathways through diet, specific supplementation, chelation, depuration, IV Therapy, etc.
Lab Analysis – Naturopathic doctors are trained to use all standard lab analysis testing (e.g. blood chemistry, chemistry panel, cholesterol profiles, auto-immunity panels, hormone testing, etc.) However, because of their different approach to care, naturopaths will also use specialized testing such as Food Allergy IgG Panels, Urine Toxic Metals, Organic Acid Testing, Nutritional Profiles, Comprehensive Stool Analysis, Neurotransmitter testing, etc.
Pharmacology – Naturopathic doctors are trained in standard pharmacology and proper use of pharmaceutical agents. Nevertheless, because of their underlying belief concerning the body’s ability to heal when the “obstacles to cure” have been removed, naturopaths will typically use the modalities above before resorting to drug therapy. If the patient is already taking pharmaceuticals, the naturopathic doctor’s goal is to understand the patient’s current health condition and how to use naturopathic care to safely reduce the patient’s drug list.Schedule a Naturopathy appointment today!