The process that Naturopathic Doctors use when working with patients is surprisingly similar to that of Medical Doctors – in the sense that patients come in with a health concern (or two) and we assess their concern by asking about their health history, perform necessary physical exam, determine the cause and discuss relevant treatment options and their likelihood of success.
However we also work very differently from our MD comrades in our methods of treatment – where Medical Doctors mainly use prescription medications and surgery; whereas Naturopaths use natural forms of medicine. But what makes Naturopathic Medicine unique are the guiding principles that help develop an appropriate treatment plan - this is referred to as The Therapeutic Order.
The Naturopathic prescription is tailored for each individual patient because the Therapeutic Order helps Naturopaths account for all of the factors within and external to the body that may be draining health. The plan will help patients overcome issues that impact health such as improving: diet, nutrition digestion, sleep, exercise, and stress; and avoiding environmental toxins. The method(s) of therapy are discussed with patients prior to treatment and includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and others.
Naturopaths then look towards enhancing is the body’s innate ability to heal itself to restore normal function. This is referred to enhancing the healing power of nature. Okay before you laugh, the goal of this theory is actually very similar to that of what a Medical Doctor will achieve with drug intervention: for example to use medication to suppress inflammation for chronic sinusitis to help a person breathe normally. The goal to reestablish normal function – is the same.
Natural therapies and treatment stimulate pathways in the body to work better. Since we all are all different and our internal biochemical pathways function at varying levels of efficiency –Ever wonder why some people eat donuts for breakfast and never gain weight? Whereas for others, daily donuts are futile! This is why some therapies may be better for some, and not for others. Once this is achieved, we can target focused organ systems to improve health, for example in some cases of insomnia - journaling or meditation can be used to to clear the mind or if organ systems according to Asian Medicine require tonification, then acupuncture, herbal medicine or Qi Gong may be beneficial.
Next, we will look at the body structurally – your posture while working long hours or even exercising inappropriately can lead to misalignment or some discomfort that can be assessed by your naturopath and corrected with acupuncture, massage or physical manipulation.
Finally, as Naturopaths we respect the boundaries of natural medicine. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in primary health care, which means that we can assess when its time to consider medication or further interventions offered by most Medical Doctors. We are not opposed to referrals. We do refer often, and sometimes it’s a difficult decision because our patients may prefer to continue with natural interventions. However, when a patient’s health concern requires these treatments such as pharmaceuticals or perhaps surgical removal due to disease; we can always utilize Naturopathic Medicine to support the body’s own internal healing power as well as help manage symptoms such as side effects due to medications or procedures with the goal of preventing disease recurrence.
So the next time you visit your Naturopath, don’t be surprised by their Naturopathic Prescription for you, as it will include many aspects focused towards improving your body and lifestyle as a whole. Your treatment plan will always be truly unique to you. This is the very reason why you CANNOT consider any natural therapy just because some famous Guy on TV said so. Truly good medicine, no matter which form you choose for yourself, is a blend of art and science and the art of healing with Naturopathic Medicine, is embedded within the Therapeutic Order.
Naturopathic Medicine…its not a one-size-fits-all strategy – it’s a Lifestyle.
Thanks for reading,
Monique Bassan, ND
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