An N.D. is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, which is a field of medicine far broader than the practice of diagnosing health conditions and prescribing natural therapies for symptom management. In fact, Naturopathy is an entirely different model of health, based on the belief that our bodies can heal themselves — as long as we provide the right conditions.
When our basic needs (clean air, pure water, restful sleep, a nutritious and balanced diet, and proper body alignment, to name just a few) are met, our innate healing ability will flourish.
In the absence of any one of these variables, our bodies must adapt to overcome the handicap. The more “foundations of health” that are out of balance, the more handicapped we become. Slowly, we develop health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, allergies, migraines, and insomnia.
Naturopathic Doctors see both health and disease as a dynamic process. Disease progresses in a logical and linear manner, and is the result of our bodies adapting to stress without enough support. This stress could come from a poor diet or dehydration or a virus, but the end result is the same – we develop illness.
Instead of treating a headache as an isolated symptom, which can be covered up by popping a pain killer, we go deeper to find and understand which need is not being met. Is it dehydration? Do you have a hidden food allergy or sensitivity? Are you deficient in vitamin C or magnesium? Once we find the stressor — the actual cause of the symptom – we can correct that imbalance, facilitating true recovery and restored health.
Just as disease is a process that occurs linearly over time, the restoration of health is a process that comes as a result of the systematic uncoiling of the disease process, and the establishment of a health-promoting lifestyle.
Another thing that sets Naturopathic Medicine apart is that it is based on the individual. The underlying cause of disease may vary significantly from person to person, even between two people diagnosed with the same illness. One person’s eczema may be caused by a dairy allergy; another person’s may be the results of low omega-3 fatty acid intake. You can’t prescribe the right treatment without knowing the cause.
What can I expect to be different in a Naturopathic Appointment?
There are several things you may notice that differentiate a naturopathic appointment from a visit with your conventional doctor. First of all, they’re nearly five times longer than the standard 10 minute visit! Naturopathic Doctor’s take time to get to know you as an individual. We will want to know about any health issues you are currently facing, but will also ask about your sleep, your digestion, your diet, your stress levels, your social support, and the parts of your life that bring you joy. It is from the understanding of these key facets that we can provide the best care for you, and understand which factors are contributing to, or detracting from, optimal health.
We will address both current health concerns (any illnesses, pain, complaints) while also addressing the foundations of your health. It is not uncommon to walk away with a treatment for your current ailment in addition to advice and guidelines meant to strengthen your system so that it can better respond to stressors the next time around.
We use a broad spectrum of interventions ranging from botanical medicine, homeopathy, counseling, and nutritional therapy, to what we consider higher force interventions such as prescription medications (including antibiotics, bio-identical hormones, thyroid medications, and diuretics). We use the absolute lowest force intervention necessary to restore health.
The Naturopathic Principles
Naturopathic Medicine is governed by a set of important principles which guide us as physicians in the pursuit of your health and wellness.
- Vis Medicatrix Naturae — The Healing Power of Nature
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process that is both ordered and intelligent. Our bodies have many highly effective mechanisms of restoring and maintaining health, which we have all seen in action when we watch small cuts and scrapes repair themselves with nothing more than time. Poor health results from impairment of these intelligent mechanisms. Vitality results when we provide our bodies with the foundations necessary for our healing mechanisms to function optimally.
- Primum Non Nocere — First Do No Harm
Naturopathic Physicians use good judgment and compassion to ensure the treatment prescribed will not cause the patient additional harm. It is common in today’s medical world to walk away from a doctor’s appointment with a drug whose side effect list contains worse health problems than the patient walked in with. We take extra precautions to work in a positive direction that leaves the whole system more healthy and vital.
- Docere — Doctor as Teacher
Remember when I said that a Naturopathic appointment would be longer than you may be used to in a conventional medical setting? Part of the reason for that is that Naturopaths take their role as educator very seriously. A significant portion of your visit will be spent explaining why we think your health condition occurred, and what we expect our treatment to do to fix it. We welcome questions, and the opportunity to teach you how to help your body thrive!
- Tolle Totem — Treat the Whole Person
Naturopaths know that it is important to treat not only illness, but the person who has the illness. Our focus on the individual is what sets our healing profession apart from the conventional medical model.
You’re well now. So what can we do to keep you that way? Naturopaths believe that the best medicine is a healthy, balanced, joyful life that provides the foundations of heath. A nutritious diet, adequate hydration, exercise, restful sleep, and the pursuit of activities that bring us joy all set the precedent for optimum wellness.
If you are struggling with your health and want to find safe, effective, natural ways to support your body and reach your wellness goals, we would love to hear from you. We know that choosing a health care provider is an important and personal decision. Schedule your free 15 minute consultation and see if we’re a good match for you!