A Naturopathic Doctor, also known as a Naturopath or an ND, is a medical practitioner that uses a whole array of natural techniques and therapies to help their patients recover from illness and disease. Naturopathy is a holistic form of medical treatment that does not use synthetic drugs and instead focuses on natural healing methods that do not have harmful or dangerous side effects.
A naturopath uses techniques as varied as, but not limited to:
- Supervised Fasting
- Herbal Medicines and Remedies
- Colon Hydrotherapy
Avoiding the use of surgeries or drugs, naturopathy is a holistic form of medicine that uses the natural elements of life, such as good diet, water and nutrition, as well as fostering the body’s own ability to heal itself under the right conditions.
Holistic medicine takes the view that the body is a unified whole and for the best results it needs to be treated as one and not, as in allopathic medicine, as separate symptoms and problems.
The Origins of Naturopathy
Naturopathy has its roots in the Ancient Greek Hippocratic School of Medicine, founded by the famous Greek philosopher and medical practitioner, Hippocrates in around 400BCE. (1) Hippocrates practiced holistic medicine and believed that using the natural elements of the earth was the best approach to healing and removing disease from the body.
It is from the Hippocratic School of Medicine in Ancient Greece that the modern ‘Hippocratic Oath’ is derived, the first and most important principle of which is shortened in the modern to the simple law which can be stated as ‘First of all, do no harm’. (2)
Even today, all medical doctors must swear this oath before they can practice, however, many non-holistic doctors, despite their good intentions, have strayed a long way from this principle in administering drugs that have harmful side effects which goes in direct violation to this oath!
More and more people are realizing that much of modern medicine is not as effective as it could or should be, so they are seeking out alternative methods such as naturopathy to help them overcome diseases and other medical complaints.
What is a Naturopathic Doctor and how much training do they have?
A naturopathic doctor usually works in a freelance capacity, but they are highly trained medical professionals. All licensed naturopathic doctors must complete a 4-year, graduate level medical program of over 4,000 hours of classroom and clinical training time.
The 4-year course covers all the same fundamental sciences that are covered in a normal medical doctor’s program, but it also includes studying holistic therapies and other nontoxic treatments.
Naturopathic doctors work in a wide range of settings including hospitals, clinics, spas, healthcare facilities, retail establishments and many more in a freelance context.
Will Naturopathy work for my condition and how does it work?
When you first go to see a naturopathic doctor, you will have an appointment of about an hour. During this time the naturopathic doctor will ask you some questions and assess your physical health conditions. They often begin by checking your eyes (iridology), tongue and nails, allowing them to begin building a full picture of your body’s health. Depending on why you are there they may also take some other samples, including hair, stool and blood.
Following an analysis of your condition and potential health needs the naturopathic doctor will run through various treatment options with you, probably at a second consultation if they have taken samples that needed to be examined. They may suggest dietary changes, exercises or other noninvasive, non-harmful treatments.
As a holistic doctor they will work closely with you to achieve the optimal results together.
Naturopathy can help with most medical conditions, particularly those that need longer term treatments. However, don’t feel that it needs to be a choice between naturopathy and allopathic (modern medicine that uses medicines and surgery) treatment because you can incorporate both into your life.
Who can use naturopathic medicine?
Anyone can use naturopathic medicine either in a preventative way or as a treatment for disease. For a medical situation such as a broken leg then you will be better off going to the hospital for a cast, however for many other conditions, particularly more long-term ones, then naturopathy can be highly effective in their treatment.
Naturopathic doctors are experts at treating conditions such as:
- Chronic, long term pain
- Heart Disease and complaints
- Hormonal Imbalances and other related issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Respiratory complaints and conditions
- Post-surgery recovery
- Muscle, joint and sports injuries
What are the risks?
Naturopathic treatments are far less risky than modern, allopathic medicine, however some of the herbal remedies may have side effects or have a reaction with other medication that you may be taking. Always ask you naturopathic doctor about this if you are already taking other medications and they will make sure that you only take remedies that will not react badly with the medicines you are already taking.
However, generally speaking there are far fewer risks associated with naturopathic medicine than allopathic medicine, and because your treatment with a naturopathic doctor will be highly personalized you should not experience negative side effects. It is advised that you always consult your regular doctor before you start new treatments though just to be on the safe side.
How to find a naturopathic doctor near you
There are more than 6000 registered, fully licensed naturopathic doctors in the United States, but you may not know how to find one. The internet is a great resource that you can use, and sites such as the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Search Tool is a great place to start. Simply type in your location and find out how many naturopathic doctors are in your area.
Alternatively, you can ask your regular doctor if there are any practicing naturopathic doctors near you and they should be able to help you.
Conclusion: Naturopathy is a great way to treat a wide range of conditions
Naturopathic medicine is being used to treat a whole range of conditions and has been successfully used to help people recover after injuries, surgeries and from chronic health conditions. More and more people are turning to alternative medical therapies to avoid the potentially harmful side effects of modern drugs and to approach their own health in a rounded, holistic manner.
- College of Naturopathic Medicine, URL : https://www.naturopathy-uk.com/home/home-what-is-naturopathy/
- National Library of Medicine, Greek Medicine, URL : https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html
- Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels