The term Naturopathic Medicine refers to a distinct system of primary health care that utilizes natural methods and substances to support and stimulate the body’s inherent self-healing process.
As Hippocrates once stated:
“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”
Naturopathic doctors name this inherent “healing force”, vis medatrix. It is through honouring this unseen force that naturopathic medicine diverges from allopathic medicine, the main medical system in North America.
Naturopathic doctors blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural approaches to restore health and prevent illness and disease.
Primary Care Examination
1. First, do no harm. Naturopathic doctors follow three precepts to ensure their patients’ safety:
2. Let nature heal. Our bodies have a powerful, innate instinct for self-healing. By finding and removing the barriers to this self-healing, such as toxicity, structural imbalances, trauma, dysbiosis, poor diet or unhealthy habits, naturopathic doctor can effectively support the body’s ability to heal.
3. Identify and treat causes. Naturopathic doctors understand that symptoms will return when the root of an illness is not addressed. Naturopathic doctor seek to find and treat the cause of symptoms and illness occurring in the body.
4. Treat the whole person. Each person has an unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. The naturopathic doctor knows that all these factors affect our health and are also the potential opportunities to wellness. As such they create treatments to best suit an individual and harness their uniqueness.
5. Educate patients. Naturopathic doctor encourage self-sustainability by teaching their patients best health practices, such as, how to eat healthy, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
6. Prevent illness. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery and lives. Naturopathic doctor evaluate risk heredity and vulnerability to disease and offer a commitment to healthy living that encourages longevity and good health for future years.
Naturopathic Doctors practicing in Ontario have completed a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education, including three years of undergraduate coursework, and a four-year, accredited, naturopathic education. Prior to registration as a Naturopathic Doctor in Ontario, they must successfully demonstrate competence in 14 rigorous entry-to-practice board exams. To maintain their registration to practice they are required to maintain their competency throughout their career by completing at least 70 hours of accredited continuing education courses every three years. Naturopathic education involves learning basic and diagnostic sciences, including anatomy, clinical physiology, biochemistry, pathology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, and imaging and laboratory diagnosis. In addition to conventional and naturopathic approaches to improving and maintaining patients’ health including nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Asian medicine, acupuncture, lifestyle counselling, physical medicine therapy and manipulations.
Naturopathic Medicine Schooling Overview
Total Hours in the Degree: 4748
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine Institute
Naturopathic doctors use a unique combination of treatment tools and assessment in their practice.
Naturopaths utilize food and diet to return health and vitality to the body.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need” (– Ayurvedic proverb)
Following this wisdom is important to ensure health is returned and maintained.
Over the last century, a lot has changed about our food; science now has the ability to insert new genes into seeds, industrial farming practices and pesticide use, the uprise of ‘fast foods’, and children's understanding of where food comes from, ie.“the grocery store”.
Nutritional counselling and assessment offers a return to the innate wisdom which has been lost amongst these changes. Ultimately, food has the power to nourish, heal and energize our bodies.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” (-Hippocrates)
The Four Simple Food Rules
Naturopathy follows Four Food Rules as an over arching principle and further refines food choices and ways of eating to meet an individuals needs and philosophies.
Four simple food rules:
Throughout the entirety of human history, herbal medicine has been used by all cultures worldwide to treat illness and to assist bodily functions. Botanical or herbal medicine, uses plants and their extracts to be eaten, taken internally or applied topically to skin to return health to the being. The evolution of pharmaceutical medicine largely originated from extracting naturally occurring compounds in plants to be replicated synthetically in laboratories and prescribed by physicians.
Food or Medicine?
Herbal medicine blurs the line between foods and medicines. Plants are food! Many societies today have lost the wisdom that food is medicine. Using herbs and spices that have disease-preventive effect in foods is one of the best ways to take advantage of their healing power. For example, studies are finding daily use of the spice turmeric in curry dishes is correlating to the elderly people in India having one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.
Medicinal plants contain a wide array of chemical compounds, which gives them versatile therapeutic powers. For example, for Andean Indians, whole coca leaf is the number one medicinal plant. They use it to treat gastrointestinal disturbances for both diarrhea and constipation. Its ability to treat two opposite disease states springs from the fact that coca contains 14 bioactive alkaloids, some of which stimulate the gut, while others inhibit gut activity. When the whole mixture enters the body, receptors in the gut’s tissues bind to the alkaloids that are needed for the body to return it to equilibrium.
Plants are more than chemical compounds, they are friends that have a consciousness to share. Each plant is an example of health, successfully surviving and thriving in an ever changing environment. Their medicines help us to evolve and dispel disease through their personal experience. Experience found in the form of the ‘chemical compounds’ they create and their ‘consciousness' of how to be well and enjoy the lessons and growth life has to offer
Drying Botanicals/ Plant Medicines
Chinese Medicine is a complete system of healing that has been practiced for over 5000 years. It is based on the belief that the laws of nature can be used to understand the inner workings of the body. Your health, like the universe at large, is subject to excesses and deficiencies. In the Chinese Five Rhythm representation of nature, an imbalance between any of these forces, (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood) can cause a blockage in the flow of your Qi (or vital energy) traveling through your body along pathways known as meridians.
Twelve major meridians run through the body, and it is over this network that Qi travels, sending messages to the entire body and its organs. Keeping the Meridian system clear is imperative for the body’s self-regulating action to occur. The use of herbs, diet and lifestyle from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective and the use of Qi gong/Tai Chi practices and Acupuncture help unblock Qi and bring the body back into harmony and wellness.
Clinical Studies Catching Up with 5000 Year Old Eastern System
Clinical studies, have shown that Chinese medicine works by triggering the release of endorphins, our natural pain-killers. Study after study, treatment with acupuncture has been shown to be extremely successful in dealing with pain in the body. Other studies continue to validate Chinese medicines’ success in helping with nausea, digestive disorders, infertility, menopausal symptoms, neurological conditions and much more.
Chinese Medicine Herbs and Acupuncture Needles
Homeopathy was first developed by the German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, over 200 years ago. Today it has established itself worldwide as a safe, gentle and effective complementary approach that seeks to stimulate the body’s own healing ability. Similar to a software update for our electronic devices, homeopathy provides our cells and physiologic systems with the information needed to overcome an illness or blockage in the body (physical, mental, or emotional). The body takes this information and begins to function differently, changing the inner environment for improved or complete re-instatement of health.
The Pro’s of Homeopathy
Homeopathy is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world. Its growth in popularity in the North America has been around 25 to 50 percent a year throughout the last decade. This success is due to several factors:
Hydrotherapy, also called "water cure", uses water for treatment of symptoms, pain relief and well being. Hydrotherpay has evolved to encompasses a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that take advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.
Various therapies used in the present-day hydrotherapy include water jets, underwater massage, saunas, mineral baths, castor oil packs, constitutional treatments with sine wave technology, warming socks, flushing body cavities and organs such as colon hydrotherapy and much more. The use of these methods quickly re-vitalizes the immune system, lymphatics and the overall energy and spirit of a person.
Water Cure Journal