Happy Naturopathic Medicine Week! It is amazing to be able to be a part of this profession and be recognized for it for an entire week. I hope you are able to learn a little bit about what Naturopathic Medicine is, and how it might be the right choice for you. Keep an eye out for posts this week about different aspects of Naturopathic Medicine!
Today’s Topic: Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine uses a natural approach to prevent diseases from occurring, and doing this with the least invasive medicine possible. We want to identify what the root cause of your concern is and then treat this root cause, rather than suppressing that one symptom. While doing this, we work with you and educate you on WHY we are doing this, and what benefits you are going to get from treatment.
When I first heard about Naturopathic Medicine, it sounded perfect. It incorporated a healthy lifestyle, with a counselling aspect, a physical medicine aspect, as well as a medical aspect. Going through the 4 years of school it required was not perfect. But it was worth it. As a practicing ND, I have had the opportunity to lead patients in the right direction of a better life. Yes, sometimes Naturopathic Medicine can be costly, but why shouldn’t we invest in our health? Our health is the most important part of life, if we don’t have our health, we don’t have quality of life.
Naturopathic Doctors are medical healthcare providers. We are trained professionals who are able to clinically treat patients but with a natural approach! As an ND, we need to complete a 4-year undergraduate degree followed by completing the four years of Naturopathic medicine school at an approved school! There are only two in Canada, in Vancouver and in Toronto. Aside from the 4 years of school, we also have to endure two very intense exams, NPLEXI and NPLEXII.
The first two years of Naturopathic Medicine school includes learning your basic sciences, and the medical side of health, and learning about pharmacology as well. Mixed in are our Naturopathic Modalities, such as Botanical Medicine, Asian Medicine, Homeopathic Medicine and Naturopathic Foundations to name a few. So, in all, we learn the medical side of things but we focus on the natural approach to treatment, and how both are used and how they interact.
NDs are trained to diagnose! We are able to do annual checkups, review or order lab tests, refer to other practitioners the needed and prescribe the appropriate supplements, or refer for pharmaceuticals when needed. We allow for the best of both worlds, where these worlds should be complementary!
We are medical professionals with a natural approach! Naturopathic Medicine actually dates back to 2,400 years ago, to Hippocrates who used nature to stimulate the body’s natural healing power. In todays world, we blend the scientific knowledge with traditional and natural medicine!
So those are the facts about us, but here is some more personal information about this profession and what exactly we do!
Many people come to an appointment, thinking we are just going to discuss their main concern, and then get a prescription for a supplement. What many don’t realize, is that the first appointment is a full hour (or more), talking about every detail of your life! We talk about your main concern, we ask about your digestion (we love talking about poop), your sleep, your energy levels, your diet, your family and personal medical history, your mood, stress levels and so much more. We want to get to know YOU, not your symptoms. This is my absolute favourite part of my job, is learning about my patients and understanding who they are and what their passions and goals are for life and their health. We also do physical exams with you. Sometimes solely related to your concerns, but also sometimes a full screening physical exam.
When it comes to treatment, yes there are supplements. And yes, supplements are necessary sometimes. But that is not all that we offer. Naturopathic Doctors are well versed in health psychology (we take it for all 4 years of school), and with myself having a psychology background from my undergrad, mental health is one of the most important pieces to my treatment plans. You can almost always guess that I’m going to tell you to meditate, or maybe journal, or at least find one hobby or interest that makes you happy – and tell you to start doing this. We live in a society where we are constantly thinking about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow. When do we live in the now? Finding something that allows you to be present, and focus on that one thing can be so powerful for our mental health. It connects our mind and body and we can learn so much about ourselves from it.
Naturopathic Doctors can also offer acupuncture for many different concerns. Used for physical ailments, but also used for digestion, stress, anxiety, smoking cessation, infertility, period problems, hormonal imbalances and more! We help figure out what is going on in your body and how we can increase the energy of the acupuncture meridians to guide to healing. Cupping is another use for this as well. Cupping can help treat migraines, muscle pain, stress, anxiety, headaches, help detoxify and more. These are just a few different treatments we might use! You can explore here about some other options available.
I think when it all boils down, Naturopathic Medicine is truly about treating the whole person and not just a symptom. It’s not about telling you to eliminate every food you love, or spend all of your savings on supplements. It’s about working with you and finding your path to a better, healthier life. So that you can have quality of life for the rest of your life, and not just for the time being. The body knows how to heal itself, it just needs a little help along the way! And that’s why we are here, we want to be that extra support to HEAL your body. Love your body, and start investing in your health!