Naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention using natural methods in combination with the rigors of modern science. Rather than trying to mask symptoms of a condition with pharmaceuticals, naturopathy tries to find the root cause, remove those barriers to health, and help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal wellbeing.
Naturopathic medicine is based on 6 principles:
First Do No Harm – primum non nocere
The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae
Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect -tolle causam
Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum
The Physician is a Teacher – docere
Prevention is the best “cure” – praevenire
A simple example I like to give to help people understand what naturopathic medicine is to have them imagine a patient coming in with chronic headaches. Almost everyone has experienced a headache at one time or another, but how they respond to the headache varies widely. The common allopathic (aka. conventional medicine) solution to the problem would be to take an Ibuprofen or aspirin. There is nothing wrong with this approach, it takes away the headache usually, and sometimes in that particular moment, that’s what people need. However, if someone using this solution EVERY time they have a headache, they are not looking at the root cause of the problem which may continue to grow to the point where it’s significantly damaging to your health and the Ibuprofen doesn’t help anymore.
The naturopathic approach would be to look deeper at what is causing the headaches, and work on removing those obstacle to cure. It may take longer, but in the end, the patient will no longer suffer from headaches and will not need to use the Ibuprofen as often. The Ibuprofen is simply masking the symptom of the headache, not curing it. What is causing the headache? Perhaps the patient has significant muscle tension in their neck and they need regular bodywork to relieve the tension. Or perhaps the only beverage they drink is coffee and alcohol and they need to add water into the equation. Or perhaps they are majorly stressed at work and need to find better ways to cope with stress. The last one is particularly common. Everyone has some sort of stressor in their life and the added effect of all this stress can manifest itself physically as a wide array of symptoms and/or diseases (some far worse than just headaches). Naturopathic medicine looks to find and treat the cause of these symptoms.