“Naturopathic medicine (sometimes called “naturopathy”) is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process with the use of natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (ND/ NMD) blend centuries-old knowledge and a philosophy that nature is the most effective healer with current research on health and human systems.
The therapeutic modalities used in naturopathic medicine (including physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy and hydrotherapy) integrate conventional, scientific and empirical methodology with the ancient laws of nature. The underpinnings of naturopathic medical practice are outlined in six principles:
1. First Do No Harm – primum non nocere
2. The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae
3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam
4. Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum
5. The Physician is a Teacher – docere
6. Prevention is the best “cure” – praevenire”
My love affair with Naturopathic Medicine began in college when I was studying for MCATs (medical school entrance exams), and my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Growing up in allopathic (traditional) medicine, I had no idea that there was a field of medicine called Naturopathy. My classmates and I were in the school library looking up medical schools to apply to when one of my classmates jokingly said you should apply to Naturopathic School, and he began to read out loud what would one day change my entire life.
In my senior year of pre-med, on a well women exam, the school physician doing my exam literally freaked out after doing my breast exam when she read my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor told me I needed a biopsy. I looked at her calmly and said, “why do I need a biopsy, I am in my early 20’s”. You would have thought I had 3 heads the way she looked at me. In my mind’s eye I felt her say, how dare she ask why! She said because my breasts were highly lumpy, and my mother had breast cancer.
At a very early age I was already biohacking, using thought processes, why and what is the root cause…. I asked my doctor, “What causes lumpy breasts?” Now she was not really happy because I was backing up her schedule. She then stated, (remember this was 30+ years ago) “fibrocystic breast may have a link to coffee”. I told her, “So if someone drinks 2 pots of coffee every day, it would be a good thing to stop?”, and she said, “Who drinks that much coffee?”. I said, “A pre-med student, president of her class taking 25 credits, working at Shock Trauma every weekend overnight shift, and tutoring foreign students”.
So I made her a deal, that I would stop coffee for a few months and come back and let her check my breasts. If my breasts were “still lumpy” I would let her do the biopsy. On the day of my repeat breast exam with a suppressed looked on her face, she said, “you don’t need a biopsy all the lumps are gone”. I told her I hope you learned something from this experience. First to take the time and ask questions, and second not to jump to biopsy. Today we now know there is a potential issue with spreading cancer when a biopsy is performed. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam. I love being a Naturopathic Physician!
Naturopathic Doctors were born from an area of medicine once called Eclectic Medicine. Eclectic Doctors use many different tools in treating people such as: herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, hydrotherapy… As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use various treatments because some patients respond better to certain treatments. For example, patients with lots of environmental allergies may not respond to herbs; instead, I may recommend homeopathy or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops).