Naturopathic Medicine employs therapies that support and promote the body’s natural healing process, such as clinical nutrition, exercise, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and lifestyle counseling.
Naturopathic medicine addresses the underlying cause of disease, not merely managing the symptoms. Most conventional medical treatments today are designed to control symptoms. For example if a person has high blood pressure he or she may take an anti-hypertensive medication or if a person has high cholesterol, a drug is given that stops the liver from producing cholesterol. These treatment options are valuable to us, yet they do not address why the individual is having the symptom in the first place. Naturopathic medicine addresses the underlying problem that has created the symptom. Symptoms are important; they are the way the body talks to us. Naturopathic medicine will palliate (alleviate) symptoms when needed to allay suffering but a Naturopathic doctor is always seeking answers to the question of the underlying cause.
The six principals of naturopathic medicine are:
1. The Healing Power of Nature (The Body has an Inherent Wisdom to Heal)
2. First Do No Harm
3. Identify and Treat the Cause
4. Treat the Whole Person
5. Doctor As Teacher
6. Prevention is Cure
All physical disease has an emotional, mental and spiritual component therefore individualized natural therapies integrate the healing power of the body, mind and spirit. Naturopathic medicine requires a great deal of commitment from both the patient and the practitioner. Naturopathic practitioners teach the patient to take control of their health and challenge them to make a commitment to living a healthful life.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are family practice oriented primary care doctors. Naturopathic training consists of at least four years at an accredited graduate level Naturopathic Medical School. The four existing Naturopathic colleges in the United States are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, a special accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The first two years of schooling mirror those of a conventionally trained Medical Doctor, the majority of classes consisting of basic sciences. The additional two to four years consists of specialized academic courses (cardiology, EENT, gynecology, dermatology, etc) as well as courses in Naturopathic therapeutics such as clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, body work, and lifestyle counseling.
After graduation, ND’s must pass a national board examination, the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX), and attain a state license where available. Dr. Finger has between 1100 and 1800 hours in teaching clinics and over 600 patient visits prior to receiving her doctorate. In private practice, she has personally seen over 1000 patients.
In licensed states Naturopathic Doctors practice as primary care physicians, with the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, and order laboratory testing. In unlicensed states, like Pennsylvania, Naturopathic Doctors are not able to provide all of the services they are trained to provide. Naturopathic doctors in unlicensed states act as health and wellness consultants and do not replace care with a primary care physician.
Naturopathic medicine focuses on the whole person and not just on their specific illness. A holistic perspective in some way can help everyone by creating balance in one’s life and increasing vitality of the body. The following is a list of some common conditions for which patients often present with:
- Chronic Fatigue,
- Lyme Disease,
- Musculoskelatal pain,
- Cohn’s disease,
- Thyroid Disease,
- Heart Disease,
- High Cholesterol,
- Ovarian Cysts,
- Yeast Infections,
- Weight Control,
- Autoimmune conditions such as Lupus.