Naturopathic Medicine & The 6 Principles
There are 6 principles of Naturopathic Medicine that are shared amongst the ND profession. They are at the core of our education and clinical practice. I hope reading and learning about these 6 principles provides you with insight into the field of Naturopathic Medicine.
1. First Do No Harm
As healthcare providers our duty is to not only provide the best care that we can, but to also prevent any type of harm. Here’s how:
We ought to provide a positive experience for our patients to establish trust, and to ensure healthcare is something a patient willingly seeks instead of avoids
We ought to know when to refer a patient out for more suitable health, whether that be to a specialist or emergent care
We ought to be highly educated in our treatments and in the field of research to be able to provide the highest quality of care
We ought to listen to our patients and their beliefs and values to ensure they feel comfortable and confident with their health plan
2. Identify and treat the root cause
So much of modern medicine focuses on eliminating symptoms. But why is this symptom occurring? Where is it stemming from? What is the actual cause? This is what we need to focus on in order to allow for true healing in the body. This is something ND's strive for and when achieved, it can be truly remarkable.
3. Treat the whole person
This includes physically, mentally AND emotionally. If any of these three are affected it can create an imbalance in our health. We identify this using something we call the "healing triangle" in which each corner is either physical, mental or emotional health. Our goal is to identify where the imbalance is in the triangle and to bring the body back to the centre, where optimal health occurs.
4. Doctor as Teacher
This is arguably my favourite principle. Education leads to empowerment and it allows us to take accountability for our health. I believe that every visit the patient should leave feeling educated on what is going on in their body in terms of health and why they are given each specific treatment. By doing so, it is much easier for us to comply to our treatment plans and make changes to improve our health.
Doctor as teacher isn't limited to the office, it can also occur online via webinars, at seminars via presentations, and so much more. This is something I am passionate about incorporating into my future practice.
As you may be familiar with, most times people go to the doctor when something is already wrong. But what if we were proactive instead of reactive? With the goal of strengthening our current health and ultimately preventing what we can before it happens. When we put it this way it sounds pretty straightforward, right?
This principle includes:
supporting the body to establish optimal health
identifying potential triggers and risk factors that may affect our health down the road
providing health support and treatment to prevent or avoid future health imbalance
This is a powerful aspect of medicine that should be practiced widespread.
6. Healing power of nature
If you don’t already know, nature is pretty darn powerful. This includes: hydration, nutrition, breathe, exercise, mindfulness, meditation and of course, botanical medicine. I think most people know how important hydration and nutrition are to health. We are also making great strides in the importance of breath, mindfulness and exercise. Building up these foundations of health is critical to achieve optimal health.
It is important to recognize that natural can still be evidence-based. So when possible, why not rely on natural treatments first and let them do the work. Then when needed we can open up our toolkit a little more.