You may have heard of naturopathic doctors before, but you might have questions about what they do. Do they just treat with herbs? What types of problems do they address? How do they differ from other types of doctors? Some of the answers might surprise you!
Licensed naturopathic physicians (NDs or NMDs) enjoy a wide scope of practice in Arizona. They can prescribe medications and treat a range of health issues that can include hormone balancing, thyroid and diabetes management, weight loss, and much more.
NDs attend a four-year, graduate level naturopathic medical school. They’re educated in the same basic sciences as an MD, but also study holistic and natural approaches to therapy. These include clinical nutrition, compounded medications, acupuncture, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and other therapies. Some guiding principles of naturopathy include the following:
Treat the Whole Person
Humans are complex creatures and it’s important to consider the emotional, mental, and spiritual state of a patient as well as the physical symptoms. To achieve that, it’s necessary to establish a relationship based on trust and understanding between the doctor and patient. Your naturopathic doctor will spend time with you to get to know you and your history as part of the process.
Discover and Treat the Root Causes
One goal of naturopathic medicine is to find and eliminate the root cause of a patient’s health concerns. If we just treat the symptoms without finding what’s causing those symptoms, your problems are sure to return.
For example, if you are having difficulty sleeping, your ND could simply prescribe a sedative. If we look deeper, though, we may find that you have a hormonal imbalance that’s causing the insomnia. Correcting that imbalance will eliminate the insomnia and probably other problematic symptoms, as well.
How do we get to the root causes? First, your naturopathic doctor will spend time listening to you because you know yourself better than anyone else. Then, through physical assessments and lab screening she’ll design a protocol specifically for you.
Empower the Patient
Another of the principles of naturopathic medicine is “the doctor as teacher.” The better you understand your body, the better you’ll be able to overcome your health challenges.
A comment NDs often hear is, “No doctor has ever explained this to me!” One goal of naturopathic medicine is to teach you how your body operates so you can help yourself heal. In doing this, you and your doctor become partners in your healing journey. The body is intelligent and will usually tell you when something isn’t right. As you learn the signs to watch for and become more in touch with your body, you will be able to recognize and address symptoms in their early stages.
Dr. Marcantel explains much more on the subject of the patient/doctor relationship and getting to the root causes of problems in her series of videos and articles on Understanding the Naturopathic Approach.
You can also learn more about the naturopathic medical profession by visiting the following web sites:
- American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
- Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association
- Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona
- State of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board