The Canadian Naturopathic Foundation

Guiding Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

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Guiding Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
 

Naturopathic doctors are guided by six principles. This set of principles, emphasized throughout a naturopathic doctor’s training, outlines the naturopathic approach to health and healing and forms the foundation of this distinct form of health care.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:

  1. Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects;
  2. Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms;
  3. Acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness. 

Your naturopathic doctor chooses remedies and therapies that are safe and effective, to increase your health and decrease harmful side effects.

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Your naturopathic doctor works to restore and support the powerful and inherent healing ability of your body, mind and spirit and to prevent further disease from occurring. Naturopathic doctors identify and remove obstacles to recovery, facilitating and augmenting this ordered and intelligent healing ability.

Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)

The primary goal of your naturopathic doctor is to determine and treat the underlying cause rather than simply managing or suppressing the symptoms. The underlying cause may be due to diet, lifestyle habits, life events, posture or environment.  Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal. 

Treat the Whole Person

Each person is unique and requires individualized care. In treating the cause of any condition, your naturopathic doctor takes into account not only your physical symptoms, but also mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual and other factors. Disease affects the entire person, not just a specific organ or system. Your nutritional status, lifestyle, family history, feelings, environmental stresses, and physical health are all carefully evaluated and addressed.

Doctor as Teacher (Docere)

Your naturopathic doctor will assist you in understanding health and illness. He/she will provide you with an understanding of the factors that affect your health and help you balance and become more capable of maintaining your own health.  Naturopathic doctors also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Your naturopathic doctor applies all of the above principles in a proactive form of disease prevention and health promotion. Naturopathic doctors emphasize healthy daily habits; they assess risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Health is more than just the absence of disease. Health entails daily functioning on the highest possible levels, and is obtained by proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. The capacity for optimal wellness or an improved quality of life is inherent in every body.

Diagnostics and Assessments

Naturopathic doctors use conventional and naturopathic diagnostic tools in assessing health concerns and determining the most appropriate treatment program. The diagnostic tools used include the following:

Thorough Health History

The initial intake with a Naturopathic Doctor is usually about 1½ to 2 hours in length and includes a detailed history. A Naturopathic Doctor will take the time to find out about your family history, your lifestyle, the stressors in your life, past medical history, history of accidents or injuries and the significant events in your life that have affected your health or well being. Often Naturopathic Doctors will use questionnaires to ensure that they are aware of the factors that may be affecting your current health status.

Nutritional Analysis

Understanding your nutritional status, eating habits and patterns and the type of food that you eat on a regular basis is an important part of the naturopathic assessment. Naturopathic Doctors will take the time to assess the impact diet is having on your health and your body’s ability to handle the food that you are eating.

Physical Examinations

Naturopathic Doctors are trained to do complete physical exams and use them as a standard part of an assessment. As your health changes or as acute situations arise, Naturopathic Doctors will use aspects of the physical exam to aid in diagnosis and assessment of your health concerns. Having a complete physical exam on a yearly basis is an essential part of preventative health care. Naturopathic Doctors take the time to ensure that the ‘small’ symptoms are identified and addressed before they become a ‘bigger’ problem.          

Chinese Tongue and Pulse Diagnosis

Traditional Chinese Medicine provides additional insight and information about an individual’s health status. Through tongue and pulse diagnosis, a Naturopathic Doctor is able to understand a person’s health status on many different levels.

Comprehensive Laboratory Testing

Laboratory testing, including urine analysis, blood work and saliva testing, is an essential aspect of a complete medical assessment. Naturopathic Doctors will use standard laboratory testing to provide them with further information for a complete assessment.

Previous Medical Reports and Diagnostic Testing

All medical reports, such as MRIs, X-rays or scans are valuable assets that a naturopathic doctor will use during their assessment of your health concerns. Naturopathic Doctors refer to other medical health professionals when appropriate to ensure that patients receive the best quality health care possible and that all required information is available in order to fully understand the root causes of a patient’s health concerns.

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