About Naturopathic Medicine
What is naturopathic medicine?
What are the principles of naturopathic medicine?
The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
How are naturopathic doctor’s trained, educated, and licensed?
Accredited naturopathic medical schools are four-year, in-residence, hands-on medical programs consisting of a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training. During naturopathic medical school, students are educated in the biomedical sciences as well as the latest advances in science in combination with natural approaches to therapy. They also study disease prevention and clinical techniques. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, schools require their graduates to complete four years of training in disciplines such as clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, and counseling. For at least the final two years of their medical program, naturopathic medical students intern in clinical settings under the close supervision of licensed professionals. Given the importance of hands-on, clinical experience for naturopathic medical students, the accrediting body for naturopathic medical colleges does not recognize degrees from online programs of study.
Is naturopathic medicine safe?
Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve health outcomes. As a health care consumer evaluating whether naturopathic medicine is safe, you should be aware of the following facts:
1.) Numerous research studies of naturopathic treatments for common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic low back pain, and anxiety have shown that naturopathic medicine is both safe and effective. Significant research shows that lifestyle-change programs that focus on nutritional interventions, exercise, and emotional well-being can sometimes reverse the progression of chronic disease safely and effectively. Naturopathic medical treatment plans focus on these and other therapies, such as botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, and counseling to name just a few.
2.) Licensed naturopathic doctors complete a rigorous, four-year, in residence, science-based, post-graduate medical education consisting of 4,100 hours of coursework and clinical training at an accredited naturopathic medical school. During naturopathic medical school, students are educated in the biomedical sciences as well as the latest advances in science in
combination with natural approaches to therapy. They also study disease prevention. Accredited schools require graduates to complete four years of training and cover disciplines including: a standard medical curriculum, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, and counseling. For at least the last two years of their medical program, naturopathic medical students intern in clinical settings under the close supervision of licensed doctors. To be licensed, naturopathic medical students must pass two sets of board exams. Educating competent, well-trained clinicians is how naturopathic medicine maintains its excellent safety record.
3.) Medical malpractice insurance rates for naturopathic doctors are among the lowest of any medical services provider. The average annual medical malpractice insurance rate for naturopathic doctors was $3,802 annually as of January 2017, according to NNMIC, the largest malpractice insurer for naturopathic doctors. By comparison, the average annual rate for conventionally
trained MDs was $18,646. A number of factors go into determining malpractice rates for a medical
professional. Most important are whether there is the potential for a severe claim based on the nature of typical injuries or damage, and whether prior claims have been filed against a doctor. Malpractice rates for naturopathic doctors are almost five times lower than those for conventionally trained medical doctors because insuring an MD is riskier for an insurance company than insuring a naturopathic doctor.
4.) Few medical treatments are 100% safe, but some are safer than others. Few medical therapies are safe for everyone, in every situation in which they are used. For example, there are 2.7 million serious adverse reactions to legally prescribed prescription drugs each year, resulting in 128,000 deaths. Having said that, naturopathic medicine is known for its unique Therapeutic Order, a set of guidelines naturopathic doctors use in clinical decision making to provide the greatest benefit to the patient with the least potential for damage. The Therapeutic Order begins by offering minimally invasive therapies aimed at supporting the body and ends in more invasive procedures such as chemical therapies and surgery. Naturopathic doctors will help patients achieve optimal health by first removing obstacles such as poor diet and lifestyle behaviors; stimulating self-healing mechanisms, strengthening weakened systems, and correcting structural integrity with minimally invasive therapies; and using natural substances to restore health.