The focus of naturopathic medicine is health promotion and the understanding that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. By identifying and removing obstacles to cure, the body is able to heal and move toward optimal health. The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body's own healing abilities.
Disease prevention and preventing the progression of disease are principles inherent to naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic doctors work with patients to identify the root causes of disease and to address all the factors that are affecting a patient's health.
Conditions and illnesses treated
Naturopathic doctors are primary health care practitioners. They are trained to treat virtually all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people: 1) patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion, 2) patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis and 3) patients with chronic and severe illnesses.
Naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Each patient has a unique story, history, genetics, dietary habits, lifestyle and associated health concerns. A naturopathic doctor will work to determine the underlying cause(s) and create an individualized treatment plan to stimulate a person's innate healing ability. Patients are also involved in their health program and learn to make effective, educated, self-care decisions that can prevent future health problems.
Working with conventional medicine
Naturopathic doctors can and do work with conventional medical doctors. NDs are trained to refer patients to other health care practitioners, where appropriate. Most naturopathic doctors corss-refer extensively to other health care practitioners.
Safe and effective treatment
The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body's own healing abilities. Therefore, naturopathic doctors must focus their efforts on understanding the unique needs of each patient. Naturopathic doctors assist the body's healing powers by using safe, effective non-pharmaceutical approaches with patients.
As a result naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Patients are involved in their treatment programs and learn to make effective, educated self-care decisions, which can prevent future health problems.
Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality.
Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes and assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing naturopathic doctors. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic doctors.
Naturopathic medicine can contribute to resolving the costly epidemic of chronic disease. The cost-effectiveness of naturopathic medicine is currently being researched in Canada. Research conducted in the United States on the cost-effectiveness of naturopathic medicine has demonstrated the significant savings to be realized by individuals, insurance companies and the health care system in general.
Many naturopathic therapies developed out of a rich history of use and have been validated by scientific research. For example, many herbs have been used effectively for centuries by various indigenous cultures. Much current research supports the direct link between many health conditions and diet and stress. The research supporting naturopathic medicine continues to grow and incorporate new scientific findings.
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM - www.ccnm.edu) continues to conduct state-of-the-art research that is regularly published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The naturopathic profession supports research into the efficacy of the products and therapies used by NDs with their patients. The CCNM is currently involved in a number of research projects in collaboration with other naturopathic institutions and conventional medical schools around the world.