What is it?
AANMC states that The Therapeutic Order of Naturopathic Medicine is to “completely resolve the patient’s symptoms and address the underlying cause while using the least force necessary”
According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) naturopathic medicine “combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science”. Naturopathic doctors undergo a primary care practitioner training, with focus on treating patients through mind, body, and spirit utilizing natural medicine. Naturopathic medicine philosophy is to treat the whole person by allowing and supporting the innate body’s ability to heal itself, and by identifying the root cause of illness while treating it as naturally and gently as possible. They encourage patient learning, and utilize a broad range of therapies including nutrition, lifestyle counseling, supplements and at times pharmaceuticals and surgery if needed.
Naturopathic medicine dates back to European doctors in the 1600s to 1700s who practiced medicine with herbs and traditional therapies. Modern naturopathic medicine was founded by Dr. Benedict Lust who created the American School of Naturopathy in New York in 1902 where the practice grew into the 1920s across North America. After WWII, with pharmaceutical and surgical therapies on the rise, the demand for naturopathic medicine declined until the 1970s where a resurgence and interest in the profession began again and continues to grow today.
Does it work?
Unlike conventional treatments that test single treatments, it’s difficult to apply naturopathic medicine in an evidence-based medicine (EBM) golden standard randomized control trial because of its multifactorial nature. Naturopathic medicine is considered personalized medicine that utilizes more than one treatment based on a person’s need.Therefore, in order to assess the effectiveness of naturopathic medicine, studies need to consider the multi-modality of this approach. A report from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine attempted to do just this by compiling 33 studies that assessed naturopathic medicine’s holistic and personalized approach. The report concluded that naturopathic medicine is effective in treating common conditions and diseases such as chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
Who is it for?
Those who have shown to be sensitive, who have had severe negative reactions to most pharmaceuticals, or those who prefer a more gentle and natural approach to treatment would appreciate naturopathic medicine. Those who have a chronic condition and want a practitioner to help them find the root cause, as well as guide them back to balance using the least invasive methods should consider working with a naturopathic doctor.