Explaining Naturopathic Medicine - The Okanagan Naturopath

Castanet welcomes our new columnist, Dr. Doug Lobay, a Kelowna naturopathic physician whose weekly column will focus on health issues.

I am often asked the question, what is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct and separate branch of medicine based on the following principles according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:

The healing power of nature

The intrinsic healing power works powerfully through biochemical mechanisms in the body and mind to maintain and restore health. Naturopathic doctors work to restore and support these inherent healing systems when they have broken down, but using methods, methods and techniques that are in harmony with natural processes.

Do no harm first

Naturopathic doctors prefer non-invasive treatments that minimize the risk of harmful side effects. They are trained to know which patients they can safely treat and which patients they should refer to other healthcare professionals.

Find the cause

Every disease has an underlying cause, often in aspects of the individual’s diet, lifestyle, or other habits. A naturopathic doctor is trained to find and remove the underlying cause of an illness.

Treat the whole person

Health or disease results from a complex interaction of physical, emotional, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle and other factors. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, taking these factors into account.

Preventive medicine

The naturopathic approach to health can prevent minor illnesses from turning into more serious, chronic and degenerative illnesses. Patients are taught the principles by which to live a healthy life and by following these principles they can prevent most major diseases.

Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. They are trained in conventional medical sciences, but they are not allopathic doctors. Naturopathic physicians treat disease and restore using therapies from the sciences of clinical nutrition, botanical or herbal medicine, vitamin and mineral supplements, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and physical medicine, physical therapy, stress counseling and management, acupuncture and oriental medicine, obstetrics and small surgery procedures. They tailor their approaches to the needs of the individual patient.

Naturopathic medicine is effective in treating most health problems, both acute and chronic. Naturopathic physicians collaborate with all other branches of the medical sciences, referring other professionals for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate. In practice, naturopathic doctors perform physical exams, laboratory tests, nutritional and dietary evaluations, metabolic analyzes, allergy tests and other modern and unconventional diagnostic tests. They are the only primary health care providers trained as experts in natural therapies. They are also trained to meet the needs of the individual based on a philosophy that recognizes the patient as a participant in their health care.

The naturopathic physician had a BA in naturopathic medicine from a four-year postgraduate degree program taught at an accredited college or university. They are licensed and regulated in many US provinces and states by a college or board accountable to the governing body, whose mandate is to protect the public. They must pass rigorous board examinations and their actions are subject to review by an examining board.

In BC, naturopathic physicians are licensed by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and are responsible for government oversight and regulation.

Naturopathic doctors practice as general practitioners and in BC have a broad scope of practice which includes modern lab testing and the ability to write prescriptions for most prescription medications such as common antibiotics, various hormones, pain and anti-inflammatories, blood pressure and heart medications when appropriate.

Naturopathic medicine is an integral part of the healthcare paradigm in British Columbia. With the widespread shortage of physicians, naturopathic physicians can fill the void and help lessen the burden on the current medical system.

Naturopathic medicine can also offer alternative, adjunctive and integrative medicine options when appropriate. Unfortunately, many of the services offered by naturopathic physicians are not covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan payments, and the burden is often shifted to the patient.

While the quality of care can be high, there is a cost to the patient and most comprehensive health care plans offer some coverage.

The doctor of the future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of the human structure, proper nutrition, and the cause and prevention of diseases.

Thomas Edison

The information provided in this article does not and is not intended to constitute medical advice. All information and content is for general informational purposes only.

This article was written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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