According to a study published in Medicina titled, Naturopathy as a Model of Prevention-Oriented, Patient-Centered Primary Care: A Disruptive Innovation in Health Care in Sep 2019, the fact that Naturopathy de-emphasizes prescription drug and surgical interventions in favor of nonpharmacological health promotion and self-care is presenting a worthy disruption to our current healthcare system.1 Its patient-centered orientation combined with an emphasis on preventive behaviors and popular complementary and integrative health services like natural products, mind and body therapies, and other therapies are not easily offered in today’s traditional healthcare system.
Naturopathy differs from traditional allopathic medicine in that it emphasizes lifestyle-oriented self-care, prevention, nutrition, physical activity, and stress-management and clinical nutrition found in herbal medicine or homeopathy before any suggestion of pharmaceuticals.
Naturopathic medicine represents an effort to improve patient outcomes and redirect the course of chronic diseases with its patient-centered approach - longer patient visits, self-care recommendations, non-drug/non-surgical options, and a strong consideration of patient preferences in care. Who wouldn’t prefer that type of healthcare?
When was the last time your conventional doctor asked about your physical activity history, or your diet, stress, social determinants of health, or any relevant environmental exposures at work and at home. Fundamentally, the goal of many naturopathic care visits is to identify behaviors, self-care strategies, that could include modifying the environment to improve their health and potentially lessen reliance on unnecessary drugs.
So how might a visit with a naturopath improve your health?
The goal of a naturopathic doctor is to create health plans based on obstacles to health to actually change and improve the terrain in which disease develops.
Trained as primary care physicians, naturopathic doctors emphasize wellness and self-healing. By following the approach of the Therapeutic Order they can identify how best to apply therapies that gain the greatest benefit with the least amount of harm. Naturopathic doctors dive deep into the root cause of illness or pain to understand best how to:
Supporting the body’s natural ability to heal itself is the ultimate goal of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Kim Howes, a Naturopathic Doctor at OWM Integrative Wellness in Buffalo NY said, “I believe that educating a patient is the first step towards achieving health goals.” It is not surprising, she added, that once patients better understand that personal choices can contribute to poor health, they feel empowered to choose healthier options.
For the patient seeking answers to the long unsolved health issue, naturopathic medicine provides an opportunity to collect a comprehensive biological, psychological and social history, that traditional medicine appointments leave little time for.
The therapeutic modalities used in naturopathic medicine (including physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy and hydrotherapy) integrate conventional, scientific and empirical methodology with the ancient laws of nature. Selected therapies are supported by research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology, and spirituality.
Naturopathic doctors have the ability to perform physical exams, assess nutrition, and conduct metabolic analyses and treat patients suffering from a wide array of health concerns including autoimmune conditions, Lyme disease, Gastrointestinal disorders, environmental illness, endocrine and hormone Imbalances, skin conditions and chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, Neuropathy.
Naturopathic doctors’ emphasis on disease prevention means they will assess risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate intervention to prevent illness, not just treat it. Knowing wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance, naturopathic medicine may not only improve health but perhaps help humanity to thrive.
1. Bradley R, Harnett J, Cooley K, McIntyre E, Goldenberg J, Adams J. Naturopathy as a Model of Prevention-Oriented, Patient-Centered Primary Care: A Disruptive Innovation in Health Care. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Sep 18;55(9):603. doi: 10.3390/medicina55090603. PMID: 31540415; PMCID: PMC6780388.