Naturopathic doctors seek to heal the whole being. Rather than medical doctors who look at symptoms (pathology) and treat and prescribe the problem to force healing to occur, naturopathic medicine seeks to find natural balances to bring the body back to wholeness with gentle support.
The most basic tenant of naturopathic medicine is that healing is available within.
When we pay attention to our bodies and shift our way of life to support these most natural functions, the body will heal itself. The Earth around us is in harmony and we can use the elements – air, sun, food and herbs – to gain internal symbiosis. Contemplating the totality of the being, psychology and spirit may also play a part. Invasive treatments are the last resort and every effort is offered to support the internal wellness of the human system.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Every ounce as valuable as medical doctors, Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) adhere to a strict code which differentiates them greatly from their pharmaceutical and surgery-seeking counterparts:
- Do no harm
- Treat the whole person
- Prevent disease
- Doctor as teacher
- Support the body
- Treat the cause
Beyond this alternative view of illness and disease is wellness. Health is the perfect state and every effort must be made to bring people back to their optimum alignment. The restoration of health is the goal, not treating symptoms alone.
If we can look at the symptoms – see what the disruption is to health and address those imbalances – we are empowered to restore well-being. Terminal and chronic conditions appear only when this disruption of ideal wellness is prolonged.
A client of mine once had liver cancer. Her prognosis was bleak but she was unwilling to give up alcohol to save her life. From a medical perspective, chemo and radiation were the only way to go. A naturopathic doctor instead may look at the underlying emotions which created this devotion to her addiction. Of course, the patient must be willing to seek help and be ready to address the changes necessary. Free will is key and doctors, no matter what their leanings, cannot save those who do not make their own well-being a priority. For my client, her comfort was more important than fighting for a life that had been filled with strife. Rather than impose our own fears, we can instead provide a space of respectful loving confidence in her decision and ease the end of life process.
The Therapeutic Order
The Therapeutic Order provides guidelines for NDs to make decisions to treat patients that are in alignment with the philosophical considerations of this natural model of care. It represents a hierarchy of elevation to treat in the least invasive and most supportive ways and avoid excessive procedures.
Remove Obstacles to Health
The first consideration is the optimum health of the patient. What are the circumstances or behaviors that are obstructing health and happiness? If we remove the obstacles to health, the body will restore on its own. Such inquires as nutrition, sleep, stress, spiritual practices and time in nature are the first step. When we can sustain happiness in a patient, they are well on their way to health.
Stimulate Life Force Energy
Life force energy is crucial to well-being. Prana must flow to enliven the organism and stimulate the energy centers which sustain life. After prolonged periods of dis-ease, the energy becomes stuck.
Many ancient practices understand the necessity for flowing prana and have sophisticated systems to address stimulation of the life force. These include acupuncture, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, yoga and spiritual endeavors like journaling, prayer and mediation. Any combination of these modalities may be offered to support the return to wellness.
Strengthen the Weakened Systems
While doctors may start treatment at this stage, this is where the body can begin to reveal that which is deeply compromised. NDs instead witness the affects of lesser modalities and the body illuminates where true support is needed. By addressing what is unable to restore itself, vitamins, minerals, fish oils, probiotics and holistic treatments may offer significant benefit.
This is often a desperate space for patients and it is where they begin to seek drastic intervention for the prolonged discomfort. By building upon life force energy and honoring what is working, suggestions are offered to strengthen the true depletion.
Correct Structural Integrity
As the issues at the organic and glandular system are soothed, it is the spinal and muscular system which require attention. Proper alignment brings the body into balance and can be achieved through massage, exercise, chiropractic care and stretching.
A compromised spine will block the flow of prana and affects every system in the body. Spinal Health is a cornerstone of yogic practices and fundamental to support the harmonious integrity of the soul in physical form.
Natural Substances to Control Symptoms
When required, vitamins and minerals may be the next step to restore wellness. Cautious efforts are considered and natural remedies are employed, as to not overtax the recuperating body system.
Use Pharmaceuticals to Control Symptoms
When the foundations of the Therapeutic Order stall, it might be beneficial to consider pharmaceuticals. Note: not all NDs may prescribe and each law varies by state.
Patients will often need to be referred to a medical doctor who can treat them with access to chemical remedies. In many cases, an ND can work with the medical doctor to ensure all aspects of care are being honored.
Use High Force Interventions
At this last stage, all other avenues to natural care have been exhausted and invasive interventions may provide the only relief. Terminal conditions and severe chronic pain are most common when this drastic step is the best outcome.
This resort recognizes the body cannot be wholly restored unless something is removed-- surgery, lasers or chemo-- to kill off the affliction in the sincere hopes that with its removal, wellness can be discovered. Patients can be supported naturopathically as they undergo these treatments and its continuance will contribute to prolonged wellness and self-care.
It is heartening to remember ways to empower our own health and to seek alternatives to the reliance on the current medical model.
Naturopathic doctors are in place to bring us back to these places of well-being with gentle support to heal ourselves. It is up to us to take the steps toward self-love that creates a resonance within for this healing to occur. There is no quick fix or magic pill, as all challenges are those which encourage our Ascension.