What is Naturopathic Medicine and what does a Naturopathic Doctor or Physician do?

Naturopathic Doctors practice holistic and preventive patient care. With a comprehensive approach NDs don’t just focus on treating the symptom, but instead work to discover and attend to the underlying cause of imbalance.

A thorough consultation is given regarding a client’s medical history, lifestyle, stress, diets, habits, current medications, supplements, herbs and health goals. After which, a tailored health plan is recommended that uses a variety of natural options to assist the body with its own innate healing ability. Many clients feel empowered by this ability and new found connection to their bodies, enabling them to create lasting life changes toward great health and happiness.

Naturopathic physicians combine traditional and eclectic practices with modern scientific findings, to create all natural therapy plans capable of curing and alleviating a wide variety of chronic diseases and acute illnesses. An NDs tool box may include: homeopathy, acupuncture, craniosacral, massage, medicinal herbs and tinctures, botanical medicine, psychology, spirituality, nutritional medicine, and prescription medications when necessary. They may recommend yoga, tai chi, meditation, or other physical activity known to alleviate certain conditions.


An ND follows a four or five year curriculum at an accredited naturopathic medical school that confers a Doctorate in Naturopathy (ND). The class load and subject matter for the first two years consists of anatomy, biochemistry and diagnostic sciences, and is identical to that of a medical doctor. In the third year, NDs clinical training includes counseling, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical exams and case management. In order to practice in licensed states after graduating, ND’s must pass a rigorous professional board exam.

There are SIX underlying principles of naturopathic medicine:

1. The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae

Naturopathic medicine recognizes and honors the inherent self-healing ability in people. By identifying and eliminating obstacles to healing and recovery, the natural order, balance and innate intelligence of the body can return. This facilitates healing from the inside out.

2. First Do No Harm – primum non nocere

There are three guidelines that naturopathic physicians follow to avoid harming the patient:

– Use the least intrusive means necessary to diagnose. Begin by utilizing treatments and remedies which minimize the risk of harmful side effects

– Avoid, if possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms

– Recognize, support, and respect, the individuals’ self-healing process.

3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam

Traditional or Western medicine tends to heal from the outside in, by treating only the symptom, the root cause of the problem does not always heal. A naturopathic doctor’s goal is to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness.

4. Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum

Naturopathic physicians understand that every patient is unique. An individuals total picture must be looked at including their genetic, physical, mental, emotional, and environmental influences. Naturopathic physicians understand the importance of spiritual and emotional health. This may be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan.

5. The Physician is a Teacher – docere

Self- Empowerment is absolute! An ND works to educate their clients, connecting them back to their body and their intrinsic healing ability. This therapeutic doctor-patient relationship has allowed patients to develop a self-responsibility toward a more sustainable and healthy life.

6. Prevention is the best “cure” – praevenire

Lifestyle, heredity and genes, and environment play a part in disease. Naturopathic physicians work with the patient to make appropriate adjustments that can prevent illness and optimize health and well-being.

This holistic approach combined with a vast medical education, allows naturopathic physicians to cure conditions that have sometimes stumped western medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a gentle but profound approach to total mind, body and spirit wellness. Please do the appropriate research to find a certified ND in your area.

Dr Chandy Lopes ND practices in Maui, Hawaii. To discover more about Dr Lopes visit her homepage.

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