What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old natural, nontoxic therapies with current advances in evidence-based medicine covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care.
One thing that distinguishes a naturopath from a conventional medical doctor is how health and disease are viewed philosophically. The conventional treatment approach for many of today’s prevalent chronic diseases involves controlling symptoms, and also lab values and physical parameters, such as elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, through prescription medications. While this may be necessary at times, this approach fails to get to the root cause of the problem. Managing symptoms and problems with prescription medicine as the sole treatment often leads to further degeneration of health because the underlying imbalances were never addressed, plus medications often create additional health problems. Most people do not want to be dependent on medication the rest of their life, but instead want to discover why they have certain health issues, and what they can do about it. Naturopathic medicine involves getting to that root cause of your problems, restoring your health, and educating you how to prevent problems in the future.
Naturopathic medicine sees the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person), not simply a clogged artery or an inflamed joint. Thus the course of treatment is individualized so not only do presenting problems get addressed, but they get addressed in the context of treating you as a whole person.
Naturopathic physicians undergo training similar to medical and osteopathic doctors. Naturopathic medical colleges are four-year postgraduate schools with rigorous admissions requirements comparable to other medical schools. The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree is awarded after classroom, clinic and practical study. ND’s are trained in medical sciences including anatomy, physiology, histology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, radiology, minor surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, EENT, psychology, dermatology, and clinical and physical diagnosis. Specialized naturopathic training includes therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, manipulative therapy, bodywork, and counseling.
Naturopathic physicians base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence:
- First do no harm
- The body has an innate ability to heal. When barriers to healing are identified and removed, the healing power inherent within our bodies can act. The skilled naturopathic physician identifies these barriers, assists the patient in their removal, and supports the body’s innate ability to heal.
- Identify and treat causes.Naturopathic physicians understand that symptoms will only return unless the root illness is addressed. Rather than cover up symptoms, they seek to find and treat the cause of these symptoms.
- Educate patients. Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators, as well as physicians. That’s why naturopathic physicians teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility and work closely with each patient.
- Treat the whole person. We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and spiritual makeup. The naturopathic physician knows that all these factors affect our health. That’s why these factors are considered in the development of an individualized treatment plan.
- Prevent illness.Prevention is proactive. This is so important because prevention saves money, pain, misery and lives. That’s why a naturopathic physician will evaluate your risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease. By utilizing preventative strategies, you will be less likely to need treatment for future illness.
What To Expect
Your First Visit:
An initial naturopathic appointment will last about 90 minutes and will include:
- An introduction and welcome.
- Initial review of intake forms and any associated past lab work/radiology reports.
- Thorough intake of presenting complaint(s), medical/surgical history and lifestyle review
- Review of any prescription medication and supplements you are currently taking
- Appropriate physical exams
- Individualized comprehensive treatment plan.
Your first visit will enable your physician to:
- Learn about your health goals
- Start to get to know you as a person
- Learn what obstacles may exist for you that are preventing you from reaching your health goals
- Establish a relationship with you that will serve as a foundation for your continued journey on the path to health and wellness.
Follow-up visits typically last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. During these visits, your physician and you will discuss how the previous treatment plan impacted your health and what changes you observed.
This time may also be used to perform physical exams, review any diagnostic testing results that were obtained, refine the treatment plan as indicated, as well as get to know you better. We all have multiple significant events that have shaped our life and who we are, thus impacting our health. Through ongoing visits, as your story starts to unfold, various connections may be made as clues to solving your particular health issues.
The physicians at Portland Natural Medicine welcome networking with other healthcare providers. If you have a specialist and primary care provider, the team at Portland Natural Medicine will be happy to call them and discuss his approach and treatment if you desire. Portland Natural Medicine believes that open communication among providers is beneficial for the patient and eliminates unnecessary misunderstandings.