Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care system that address a wide range of health problems across all age groups using natural methods. Naturopathic doctors focus on finding the root cause of the health problem and treating that rather than treating symptoms.
Watch as Dr. Michael Nowazek, BSc, ND
explains the naturopathic approach to treating patients
What Training do Naturopathic Doctors Receive?
Naturopathic doctors receive extensive training. We are university graduates with degrees in various pre-med subjects such as chemistry, biology, different branches of mathematics, physics, and related subjects.
We then attend a 4-year naturopathic medical training program at an accredited school (some are colleges, some are universities) of naturopathic medicine. During that training we learn the medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and histology (the study of the microscopic structure of tissues).
Also during the four-year naturopathic medical program we learn natural healing methods such as diet and nutrition therapies, vitamin therapies, botanical medicine and herbal medicine.
After successful completion of the four-year naturopathic medicine program, we then take a five-day licensing exam administered by an international agency in the U.S. When we pass that exam, we are eligible to be licensed in whichever province or state they wish to practice in.
Some naturopathic doctors also receive training in advanced naturopathic therapies.
What Makes Naturopathic Medicine Different?
One thing that makes naturopathic medicine stand out is that we use natural therapies to treat health conditions. This does not mean that we insist that our patients stop taking pharmaceutical medications that have been prescribed to them. We are happy to work with medical doctors and in harmony with conventional medical treatment. It does mean that any products we recommend will be natural and non-pharmaceutical and we will make sure they will not interfere with your medications.
Rather than just using natural treatments to “manage” the symptoms, we use natural treatments to treat what is causing the problem.
What is Involved in Naturopathic Treatment?
When a patient comes to us, the first thing we do is listen and ask a ton of questions. We want to understand the patient’s health history, the current concerns, and where they’d like their health to be.
Then we determine what is likely causing the health problems. Having a thorough understanding of biology and chemistry and having the experience to know how those interact in the body allows us to narrow down the causes. Sometimes we confirm the diagnosis with lab tests. Testing is used for confirmation of the diagnosis; it is not the first step in developing it.
Once we have found the core cause of the problem, we design a treatment plan with the patient. It’s important that the patient participate in designing the plan because it has to suit the patient’s life and schedule. A plan that is too complicated or that conflicts with the patient’s life isn’t going to work. It has to be something that the person can actually do, something that’s manageable for them and doesn’t make their life more difficult.
Sometimes a patient’s plan could involve a number of steps. Trying to cure everything all at once just doesn’t work. It has to be addressed in stages. We prioritize the steps and tailor them to the patient’s life.
Each patient has different needs, so each plan is individual and designed for that patient.
We do not put patients on complicated, impossible diets and we don’t send them away with a shopping bag full of supplements in a shotgun approach. We prescribe only what the patient actually needs, and nothing more.
We don’t confuse patients with complicated jargon. We help patients understand their health conditions and how they can affect them, and what the treatments will do and how they will help, and we do that in simple, everyday terms that people can understand.
We work in partnership with patients to resolve their health issues and help them to reach their health goals, naturally.
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