What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a unique doctoral profession built upon the premise of using nature as a healing modality.  Moving away from pharmaceutical therapies and intent on ‘first doing no harm’, naturopathic physicians use an age-old principle called the “Vis Medicatrix Naturae” or, ‘the healing power of nature’, to stimulate the body’s innate healing capacities. Naturopathic medicine is natural medicine, using non-toxic and systemically supportive medicines. Not only do naturopathic methods not cause problems down the road after years of use, as with many drug therapies in use today, our approach is restorative and healing.

In fact, naturopathic medicine was created in 1901 as a direct response to the overuse of chemical drug therapies. Over the previous century the use of mercury, also known as ‘calomel’, was in widespread use, mirroring the current pharmaceutical industry. A group of “drugless doctors”, European “Nature Cure” practitioners, homeopaths and herbal therapists, also known as the “Eclectics”, morphed into a distinct and evolving profession after being dismayed at the impact of toxic treatments on patients*. 

Given the various holistic therapies employed by thousands of naturopathic doctors (NDs) across the country, working with one ND can be very different from working with another.  Here at Options Naturopathic Clinic, we strive to match the needs of the patient with their capacity and ability to do what is needed to get well. We understand it is hard to envision what the experience of working with us would be like until you have done it, so we offer a free-10 min consult to help explain and determine if we are the right practice for you.

*The actual term ‘naturopath’ was coined by Benedict Lust, a hydrotherapist immigrant from Germany.

More on Naturopathic Philosophy & ND Training

Historically, naturopathic principles have been in use for centuries. Hippocrates, the famous physician of the fifth century who originally defined the concept of temperament, also authored the idea that there is a vital force inherent in all living beings. This vital force, which naturopathic doctors call the ‘Vis’ (short for Vis Medicatrix Naturae) is that capacity within each living being that promotes self-healing. The word ‘physician’ itself was taken from the Greek root physis, meaning ‘nature’.

Naturopathic Training is a comprehensive, four-year medical program, which requires a prerequisite bachelor’s degree upon entry. The first two years cover the basic sciences, including Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Clinical and Physical Diagnosis and Laboratory Diagnosis. The following two years cover the clinical sciences, while incorporating several approaches to natural medicine such as Botanical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, and Homeopathy. Courses combine the knowledge of Western science with the art of natural healing. See more at www.aanmc.org, the official website of all seven accredited naturopathic medical colleges in North America. To get an idea of the core curriculum Drs. Erin and Laura completed at the National University of Natural Medicine.

In Europe, naturopathic medicine has been very popular and continues to be highly accepted and recognized. Natural medicine, in the form of homeopathy and other techniques, is also highly regarded in Canada, India, South America, New Zealand as well as many other countries around the world. Today, various forms of natural medicine are growing in acceptance and recognition in the United States.

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