What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) artfully combine modern scientific knowledge, traditional healing medicine, and the wisdom of nature. NDs are unique in that they treat each patient as an individual and use methods that facilitate the body’s innate ability to heal itself. With a proactive, preventive, and comprehensive approach naturopathic physicians are able to minimize the risk of harm while treating a person holistically. Naturopathic medicine focuses on identifying the underlying cause of disease and then removing all barriers to creating optimal health.
Naturopathic doctors undergo rigorous education before becoming licensed. After receiving a bachelor’s degree, a prospective licensed naturopathic doctor is required to attend medical school for four years (just like MDs or DOs) at an accredited school for naturopathic medicine. During the four years students learn all the same basic sciences as those who attend MD or DO school. In addition the naturopathic medicine curriculum includes much more extensive education in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, counseling, physical medicine, and psychology. To receive a license by the state a naturopathic doctor is required to pass two sets of national standardized exams. Licensed NDs can be found working in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. Just like MDs, naturopathic physicians keep themselves up-to-date on the latest scientific research and incorporate this evidence into their treatments.
NDs are trained as primary care doctors, so they treat all medical conditions and all ages. The most common conditions that are seen by a naturopathic doctor are menstruation issues, hormonal imbalances, fertility problems, menopause, andropause, thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, allergies, chronic fatigue, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, headaches/migraines, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and fibromyalgia. Although Naturopathic doctors’ emphasis is on the use of natural healing agents, they are trained in the use of and will prescribe traditional medicine as needed.
What to expect on your first visit:
Naturopathic doctors take enough time to learn everything they can about each patient, his/her family and lifestyle. During your first appointment there will be a comprehensive intake which includes your past medical history, your current health history, and a focused or full physical exam. You should expect questions about your diet, stress level, sleep habits, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and any of your current health concerns. General recommendations are given at this time. When necessary, diagnostic & specialized testing will be ordered. A referral to another health-care provider such as an MD, a surgeon, or another specialist will be done if needed. During the follow-up visit, your ND will review the results of any diagnostic tests that were ordered and tailor a customized health plan for you based on your own individual needs.