Naturopathic doctors combine and tailor these treatments to the needs of the individual in a way that acknowledges the patient as a participant.
Naturopathic doctors (N.D.’s) are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. In a licensed state, naturopathic doctors perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and allergy testing. They may order x-ray, ultrasounds, other imaging procedures, and other diagnostic tests.
Nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods are a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine. The naturopathic approach to diet and nutrition has been validated in many scientifically based professional journals on nutrition and dietary sciences. Many medical conditions can be treated as effectively with foods and nutritional supplements as with other means, with fewer complications and side effects. While most medical doctors receive fewer than 20 classroom hours in clinical nutrition, naturopathic doctors receive more than 140 hours. Naturopathic doctors understand that diet is the basis for health. Adopting a healthy diet is often the first step towards correcting health problems. Naturopathic doctors may use specific individual diets, detoxification, fasting, and nutritional supplements with their patients.
Plants have powerful healing properties. Many pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in plant substances. Naturopathic doctors use plant substances for their healing effects and nutritional value. Many plant substances are highly effective in the right dosage and when used correctly with other herbs and treatments. Herbs can be prepared in many forms – teas, tinctures, and capsules. Naturopathic doctors are trained in both the art and science of botanical medicine.
This powerful system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is widely accepted in many countries. Homeopathy is based on the principle that Like cures Like. Homeopathic medicines are very small doses of natural substances that can stimulate the body’s self-healing response. Homeopathic medicines, when properly prescribed, affect the body’s “vital force” and strengthen its innate ability to heal. Homeopathic remedies function on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects. Some conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine respond effectively to homeopathy.
Physical medicine treats musculoskeletal concerns. Treatments can include soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage), spinal manipulation, crainiosacral therapy, physiotherapy using heat and cold, gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy, hydrotherapy, and exercise therapy.
Naturopathic doctors are trained in the fundamentals of oriental medicine and diagnosis. They may use acupressure and Chinese herbal medicine to promote healing.
Naturopathic doctors, with additional specialty training in some licensed jurisdictions, provide natural childbirth care in an out-of-hospital setting. They offer prenatal and postnatal care using appropriate diagnostic techniques.
In some licensed jurisdictions, naturopathic doctors perform in-office minor surgery including repair of superficial wounds and removal of foreign bodies, warts, and cysts with local anesthesia.
Lifestyle Counseling and Stress Management
Mental attitudes and emotional states are important elements in healing and disease. Naturopathic doctors are trained in various techniques that include short-term situational counseling, couples counseling and mind-body techniques, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback. They also attend to environmental and lifestyle factors that affect their patients’ health.