Find A Naturopath
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The essence of naturopathic medicine is an approach to illness using tools provided by nature without significant reliance on the tools made by man such as pharmaceuticals. In this way it is very similar to nutritional medicine and holistic medicine. The inherent healing capabilities of the organism under treatment are considered to be of primary importance. Naturopathy conceives of a "vital force" and the enhancement of that vital force, by whatever means, is thought to hold the key to lasting health. Nature is thought to possess a natural healing force, a medicatrix naturae, and the objective is to remove obstacles to the expression of that healing force.
Naturopathy also strives to take into account the multifactorial nature of illness and when possible to treat all factors. In this way it is similar to holistic medicine, addressing physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. Naturopaths see their role as not only healer, but educator. The key to long term health, in their view, is education of the patient and inspiration of the patient to assume responsibility for his or her long term health. The physician makes a commitment to his or her personal and spiritual development in order to be a good teacher and in this way to fulfill the meaning of the word "doctor" which comes from the Latin docere: to teach. In naturopathy, the ultimate goal in treating illness is to prevent future illness, and thus it incorporates preventive medicine. The naturopath does not wait for illness to strike before treating the person to achieve health. Absence of illness and health are not considered to necessarily be the same thing and the emphasis is placed on building health rather than on fighting disease. The scope of naturopathic practice includes nutritional, botanical, homeopathic, physical, oriental, and psychological approaches. Some naturopaths practice minor surgery and others deal with obstetrics.
Naturopathic physicians often use diet, natural hygiene, colon therapy, fasting, and nutritional supplementation in practice as well as many plant substances. Where single chemically-derived drugs may only address a single problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. Because they are organic in nature, botanical are compatible with the body’s own chemistry, therefore they can be effective with few toxic side effects. Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of "like cures like." It works on a subtle yet powerful electromagnetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body’s healing and immune response. Naturopathic medicine also has its own methods of therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and spine. Naturopaths also use ultrasound, diathermy, exercise, massage, water, heat and cold, air, and gentle electrical pulses. The notion of meridians and the use of acupuncture and acupressure are borrowed from oriental medicine and made use of in the practice of naturopathy.
Some naturopathic physicians provide natural childbirth care in an out-of-hospital setting. They offer prenatal and postnatal care using modern diagnostic techniques. The naturopathic approach strengthens healthy body functions so that complications associated with pregnancy may be prevented. As general practitioners, naturopaths do in-office minor surgery including repair of superficial wounds, removal of foreign bodies, cysts, and other superficial masses. Mental attitudes and emotional states are taken into account in naturopathy in the recognition that these not only influence, but may also cause illness. Counseling, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and other therapies are used to help patients heal on the psychological level.