What Makes Naturopathic Medicine Different?
NDs are Primary Care Physicians with a twist
Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) are trained as primary care physicians at one of seven naturopathic medical schools in North America. These are four-year accredited doctoral programs certified by the United States Department of Education and accredited by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges. NDs are educated in the same biomedical sciences, clinical diagnostic methods, and therapeutic interventions as MDs and DOs. NDs also study clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, and counseling, and are required to take rigorous board exams. They have a holistic approach to healthcare with an emphasis on disease prevention and health optimization, and they can work in cooperation with your primary care physician.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
1. Primum Non Nocere (First, Do No Harm) – Utilize the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies
2. Vis Medicatrix Naturae (The Healing Power of Nature) – The body has an inherent wisdom and can heal itself
3. Tolle Causam (Identify and Treat the Cause) – Look beyond symptoms; heal the root cause of the dysfunction
4. Tolle Totem (Treat the Whole Person) – View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions
5. Docere (Doctor as Teacher) – Educate patients how to achieve and maintain vibrant health
6. Praeventia (Prevention) – Focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention
The Therapeutic Order
(Re)establish the Foundation for Optimal Health
Remove obstacles/habits that disrupt health (toxic exposure, poor diet)
Install healthier habits (nutritious food, a healthy routine, adequate hydration, plenty of vitamin R, supportive relationships)
- Ensure adequate detoxification (support the liver, ensure effective elimination of waste)
Stimulate Self-Healing Mechanisms (aka "Stim the Vis")
The body evolved to correct imbalances and ward off external invasions; sometimes it needs a little push to be able to do its job
Tools for this include acupuncture, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy
Support & Restore Weakened Systems
May involve the use of low-force/high therapeutic index botanical remedies and nutraceuticals
Address Physical Alignment/Restore Structural Integrity
Using massage, acupuncture, physical manipulations
Natural Symptom Control/Address Pathology
Sometimes the body cannot overcome an invader on its own; this is when higher-force intervention is appropriate.
Involves powerful botanicals that may be toxic if taken inappropriately
Synthetic Symptom Relief/Address Pathology
Involves the use of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and treat pathology
May suppress pathology, or physically repair injuries or dysfunction
Includes interventions like surgery and the use of low-therapeutic index pharmaceuticals
Limitations of Naturopathic Medicine and Naturopathic Coaching
Wisconsin does not currently license Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine. Therefore, NDs cannot practice medicine in Wisconsin – they cannot diagnose illness, write prescriptions, order lab tests or imaging, perform physical examinations, or bill insurance.
There are no quick fixes or magic pills, period. Naturopathy is powerful, but it is gentle; it may take a while to get results with naturopathic coaching, even if you follow the recommendations perfectly.
Patients must be active participants in their healing. Your ND can only make recommendations – it's up to YOU to follow the treatment plan. Basically, naturopathy is only as effective as you are compliant.