Naturopathic primary care encompasses health maintenance, acute illness and chronic disease. Rather than focusing on medications and surgery as treatment, naturopathic primary care emphasizes natural therapeutics. Modalities include life style counseling, therapeutic nutrition, homeopathy, hydrotherapy (water therapy) and botanical (or herbal) medicine. Diagnostic techniques include physical exam, medical history and conventional lab tests. The whole person is always treated in naturopathic primary care, rather than a diagnosis, symptom or disease. When, in rare, instances, natural therapies are not effective, the naturopathic doctor will order prescription medications within her scope of practice. If a medication or service is required that is outside of her scope of practice, an appropriate referral will be made.
The naturopathic doctor uses the healing powers of nature to stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal itself. She employs a variety of therapies which boost the immune system, thereby lowering the susceptibility to disease and effectively harnessing the body’s natural healing abilities.
This innate healing ability is one of the cornerstones of the philosophy of naturopathic medicine. Equally important, the physician is seen as a teacher, which is the original meaning of the word, “doctor”. Naturopaths strive to share information with their patients so that they can make informed decisions about their own health care. A preventive approach is also fundamental to naturopathic medicine, as is the concept that each person is a unique, whole individual. Mental, emotional and spiritual factors are considered as well as physical ones. Our over-riding guideline is “Primum non nocere”. This means, “Above all, do no harm”, and all of our therapies are selected with this thought in mind.
Naturopathic doctors are graduates of a comprehensive, postgraduate four year program, and are trained as family practitioners. Training includes a firm foundation in basic sciences and Western diagnosis (as well as other approaches to diagnosis). In addition, naturopathic students see patients under supervision of licensed doctors in the school clinic as well as a variety of other in-patient and out-patient settings. National board exams must be taken in both basic and clinical sciences to qualify for licensure.