What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine utilizes natural therapies to prevent and treat disease. The philosophy guiding naturopathic medicine is composed of six principles:

Primum no nocere-“First, do no harm” The primary objective of any healer should be to first ensure that one’s treatment (or avoidance of treatment) does not harm the patient. This means avoiding treatment modalities that cause harm to the patient or further mask or suppress the bodies’ own attempts to heal.

“The healing power of nature” Naturopathic physicians believe that the human body possesses innate healing mechanisms, and that if supported sufficiently, these mechanisms can lead the patient to cure. Naturopathic physicians maximize the body’s innate capacity to heal by stimulating physiological processes and using natural substances, such as botanical and nutritional medicines to support the return to full functioning.

Photo credit: Forest Service Northern Region

Photo credit: Forest Service Northern Region

Tolle causum-“Identify and treat the cause” Naturopathic physicians focus their treatment on identifying and removing the root cause of illness. This means that the naturopathic physician does much more than just manage their patient’s symptoms; they search for the underlying cause of these symptoms and work to treat this cause to resolve their symptoms.

“Treat the whole person” Naturopathic physicians treat each patient as an individual with specific needs, considerations and expectations. In other words, NDs recognize that all patients with a given condition are not the same and that these individuals require individualized treatment to return to health.

Docere-“The doctor as teacher” One of the major duties of the physician is to teach ways to maximize health and prevent illness. This involves teaching patients about their individual condition(s) and the ways in which their treatment works to treat these conditions.

“Prevention” The Naturopathic physician truly believes that prevention is the best medicine. Much of their treatment focuses on maximizing health by preventing illness through lifestyle counseling and nutritional treatments.