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WHAT IS A NATUROPATH?
Naturopathic doctors are trained specialists in a separate and distinct healing art which uses non-invasive natural medicine. They are not orthodox medical doctors (M.D.s). Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) are conventionally trained in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, counseling, dietary evaluations, nutrition, herbology, acupressure, muscle relaxation and structural normalization, homeopathy, iridology, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, oxygen therapy and thermal therapy. Some practitioners are also trained in additional specialties such as acupuncture or natural childbirth.
Naturopathic doctors tailor the healing modality to the needs of the individual with methods which are effective for both chronic and acute problems. Naturopathic doctors cooperate with all branches of medical science, referring individuals to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
In practice, naturopathic doctors perform lifestyle analysis, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis and other evaluative procedures. They are trained to use a wide variety of natural methods which involve the individual in the healing process. Naturopathy is based upon a belief in the body's innate God-given natural ability to heal itself when given an appropriate internal and external healing environment.
Naturopaths are not involved in the practice of medicine and do not use drugs or pharmaceuticals, nor do they perform abortions or surgery (other than minor first aid). They have traditionally been referred to as "drugless doctors." In reality, naturopathy deals with wellness and relief from conditions which are the result of stress whether from mental, nutritional, environmental or physical factors.
Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) have participated in a specialized course of study and received degrees in naturopathy. Some states license naturopaths and regulate the profession. In those states, the naturopaths must also have passed a national or state board examination and their practice is subject to review by a State Board of Examiners. Several naturopathic, professional organizations also require the candidate to pass a proficiency test in naturopathy in order to join their organization or to become certified.
NATUROPATHY: A Brief History
Dr. Benedict Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York City and graduated its first class in 1902. A number of other schools were organized and by the 1930's there were more than twenty naturopathic colleges and over 10,000 practitioners.
The allopathic medical schools, which had the backing of the pharmaceutical industry, flourished with large endowments and the political clout which comes with wealth. Due to lack of funding, naturopathic education began to decline and only recently has the disenchantment with pharmaceutically trained doctors led people to once again begin exploring and embracing natural, God-given, simple, effective remedies found in naturopathy.
Naturopathy promotes health through education and non-invasive natural agents. The Naturopathic Philosophy advocates a number of principles:
1. Do no harm
Primum non nocere is taken from the Hippocratic Oath. Certainly anybody who is sick does not need any therapy or treatment which can harm him/her. Since prescription medication has such a potential to make a well man sick, many wonder how it can be expected to make a sick man well. Traditional naturopathy embraces only therapies or procedures which are designed to enhance healing and produce wellness.
2. Recognize the healing power of nature
Vis medicatrix naturae. The human body is created with the capacity to heal itself and to maintain homeostasis. There is a healing power in nature and this principal is the basis for all of naturopathy. Naturopathy is a system designed to work in harmony with nature in the restoration and support for the inherent natural healing systems of the body.
3. Identify the cause
Tolle causam. In allopathic medicine the name of the disease is actually the name of the symptom in Greek. For example, the term "arthritis" is made up of two Greek roots "arthro" which means having to do with the joint and "itis" meaning pain or inflammation. Allopathic doctors seek to treat the joint pain by reducing the joint pain. This can be done with the use of pain killers, nerve blockers or any number of procedures. Naturopaths are committed to removing the joint pain by finding and removing the cause. Perhaps this may prove to be a calcium and/or mineral deficiency caused by either a primary or secondary nutritional deficiency. Or perhaps the cause could be from an injury, or possibly from an over acid condition in the body. For naturopaths, the correction of the cause is the most plausible way of eliminating the symptoms and restoring health to the person.
4. Involve the total person
Naturopathic doctors are aware that a person can have a physical, spiritual or emotional illness. The chosen therapy is determined by what kind of problem the person is experiencing. You can not be well or healthy if you have a spiritual or mental problem even if you appear perfectly fit. Naturopaths use various counseling, stress management and bio-feedback techniques for those experiencing emotional or spiritual problems. Most naturopathic practitioners are capable of also using Biblical counseling as restorative therapy. Reading the writings of the fathers of naturopathy, you will find they were Godly people who recognized the Creator and gave Him the honor for all healing.
5. Teach rather than treat
Naturopathic philosophy places the responsibility for wellness with the individual. Man is the steward of his body and the doctor is the teacher or advisor to the individual on how to maintain health. One recognizes that a headache is not an aspirin deficiency but rather the result of some imbalance within the body. Some principle of health has been violated and the body is responding with pain. Naturopaths should evaluate the connotation and advise or teach their clients what lifestyle, nutritional, emotional or dietary changes should be made to alleviate the condition. The condition is alleviated by the clients making those changes and not by some outside agency.
6. Identify the source
Man is fearfully and wonderfully made. Other than in trauma-type injuries, seldom does the body have isolated mono-factoral conditions, but rather experiences "dis-ease" as a consequence of a number of health debilitating events. Germs are considered the culprit for many conditions found by allopathic physicians. Naturopaths understand germs are a normal part of the economy of the earth and that they are put here by the Creator to destroy sick, weakened and devitilized tissues. Thus, germs are attracted to the depleted tissues in the body. In order to reverse the disease process, the body needs to have its tissues revitalized. This explains why when two people are exposed to the same germs only one person gets sick (the person with the devitalized tissues.
7. Prevent disease
It is admirable that there is an effective system based on natural restorative methods. However, it is preferable for the body not to experience imbalances and their resulting consequences. Naturopaths are prepared to advise clients on simple disease prevention principles which are designed to produce health and avoid the destructive consequences which occur as the result of violating those principles.
What to Expect
When you consult a naturopathic doctor for counsel, you will find a person committed to the holistic approach to health. The doctor will gather a medical history, inquire about your diet, discuss any stress you are experiencing, give various non-invasive tests designed to evaluate body conditions and advise you concerning your condition. What you will NOT get is a diagnosis! Naturopathic doctors deal in health, not disease, and they do not diagnose disease. They simply look to signs as to how the body is functioning in its normal day to day functions, and offer advice as to how this may be improved through natural means.
A naturopathic doctor never interferes with the advice of a medical doctor. The two can work side by side. They are not the same thing.
With a naturopathic doctor, you will experience techniques which are consistent with traditional naturopathy and its philosophy. These will enable your body to correct problems now and prevent them from occurring in the future.
In a society focused on an allopathic mindset, naturopaths can provide people with more options in the treatment of disease and pain. These options, along with being non-invasive, are all natural and, in actuality, are more historical methods in the pursuit of good health.
There are always choices in nature...Things that can make any situation better than it already is. People say naturopathy doesn't work because it's not always a perfect solution, but sometimes nothing will work. Naturopathy is as simple as breathing in a more efficient manner, eating nourishing foods, hydrating the body with pure clean water, using herbs, flowers and plants to our good, and getting the right exercise...Along with a wee bit of prayer, about the size of a mustard seed.
Have a naturally healthy good day!
Mary Jo Eshelman, ND, CTN, CNHP