What is a naturopathic doctor or naturopath? As the name states, it is a doctor who uses more natural healing processes and ideals than a traditional doctor. One of the biggest differences between a naturopathic doctor vs. a traditional medical doctor is that the naturopath focuses on a proactive/ preventative action plan with the promotion of overall wellness. Their hope is that by emphasizing this preventative lifestyle and by improving the overall health of the patient, there will be no need to treat a disease.
EDUCATION OF A NATUROPATH
Contrary to what some critics of naturopathy may think, naturopaths, do go through a rigorous course of study. They aren’t simply educated by nature since they must attend a certified naturopathic medical college. They have to undergo 4 years of graduate level naturopathic medical school. These specialists are schooled in the same essential sciences as a traditional doctor and in addition, learn about holistic and nontoxic methods and therapies. Disease prevention with a focus on wellness is stressed in the naturopathic curriculum. This includes nutrition, homeopathic & botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling. When all this rigorous schooling is complete, a naturopath needs to pass the board exams so that they can obtain a license in their state or area as a primary care or general practitioner.
A VISIT WITH A NATUROPATH
What might a visit to a naturopath’s office look like? One of the things you will notice is that they really take the time to get to know you: your habits, your emotional state, what physical issues you may have, or the questions that you may have. They aren’t there to push the next pharmaceutical on you. They want to get to know the WHOLE person and that is YOU. A naturopath will do a thorough examination and can order tests similar to a traditional doctor. The difference is that they will help you to correct any issues you may have using natural healing methods. Your first visit may last somewhere between 1 to 2 hours because they really want to get to know you and want to come up with a plan that is best for your individual needs. When test results are returned, the follow-up visit will be about 30-45 minutes. That is what I call custom-made service.
CAN A NATUROPATH DEAL WITH ALL MEDICAL PROBLEMS?
You would consult with your naturopath just as you would with your primary care physician, but you wouldn’t go to your PCP for all your medical problems because they aren’t specialists in all types of health issues. It’s basically the same thing with your naturopath. A naturopath can prescribe medications, although he or she will look for the most natural healing method first. As for their specialty, they often deal with allergies, ongoing pain issues, digestive matters, hormone discrepancies, unhealthy weight, respiratory circumstances, heart disease, fertility, menopause, adrenal exhaustion, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Naturopaths can perform some minor surgeries like cyst removal or wound stitching and will refer patients to other health care providers if they see the need for it.
GOAL OF A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR
First and foremost, as with all medical professionals, a naturopath’s goal is to do no harm. They want to prevent any type of discomfort or suffering, so they make sure that their patients are equipped on a healthy, balanced, and optimal lifestyle. Next, these specialists may not be moneyed since they lack sponsorship from big pharmaceutical companies, but it does make them genuine and supportive of natural healing. Lastly, naturopaths should be commended for their noble deeds – they only want to promote the most natural way of treatment on a very personalized level. Just the fact that they will meet with a patient for 1-2 hours and then, follow up with a 30-45 minute visit, puts them at the top of the list for exceptional “medical” service.