Naturopathic medicine is a form of health care that strives to use natural cures as well as the body’s own healing energies for optimal health. The goal is a holistic approach that balances the body, mind and spirit. The use of natural supplements, vitamins, herbs and other natural health products is favored over sythesized and manufactured drugs and other more intrusive measures.
Drawing From Time-Honored Traditions
Naturopathic medicine has its origins in other time-tested natural health care traditions such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. These practices were used for thousands of years with success in these cultures. Critics of modern Westernized healthcare lament the departure from methods that are much more in touch with natural solution. Many naturopaths believe that modern medicine does not respect and harness the body’s own innate wisdom and healing properties as it could for better results.
Unfortunately, due to the connections of naturopathic medicine with older traditions, a common question about these practitioners is, “Are naturopathic doctors quacks?” However, this often comes out of mistrust and misinformation spread about these practitioners and their methods.
Are Naturopathic Doctors Quacks? Not By Nature
While there can be dishonest or fraudulent persons in any profession, the ethos and intention of naturopathic medicine is to provide a high quality of life to patients through diet, nutrition, lifestyle advice, preventative measures and the use of natural supplements and vitamins for optimal health.
Naturopathic doctors receive the most scrutiny because they prescribe natural supplements to their patients. Often times it is a supplement that they have either customized themselves. The other instance would be if a naturopathic doctor had his/her own line of private label natural supplements.
Today’s naturopathic doctor has access to the best of modern, scientific advances in favoring their private label nutraceuticals. Naturopathic medicine draws from six guiding principles that inform the actions of all of its qualified, ethical practitioners:
1. Putting Nature’s Healing Power First
Naturopathic practitioners pledge to put nature first in all of their decisions and dealing with clients. The practice recognizes and respects the inherent, powerful self-healing properties of the natural world. This applies to both the human body and the cures that exist all around us that come directly from nature. The interventions used in naturopathic medicine are kept close to this source with the least amount of processing possible.
Naturopathic medicine recognizes and strives to partner with the intelligent, ordered and inherent self-healing process within every person. The main goal is to remove any obstacles in the way of this natural movement toward recovery and healing.
2. Identify Causes of Dis-Ease and Address Them
Instead of just dealing with symptoms, naturopathic medicine strives to find and treat the root causes of every issue.
3. First and Foremost in Treatment, Always Do No Harm
Just as Western doctors do, naturopathic practitioners pledge to do no harm to their clients. To this end, they use only methods and cures that minimize risk of all kinds. The least-invasive course of effective action is always favored, and each person’s natural healing process is respected.
4. The Doctor is Also a Teacher
Naturopathic physicians are also committed to educating their patients. All clients are encouraged to take responsibility for their own health as much as possible through healthy lifestyle choices.
5. Treating the Whole Person
In addition to physical health, naturopathic physicians also take into account each individual’s mental, emotional, social, environmental, genetic and other factors. Naturopathic physicians may also encourage personal spiritual development to foster a well-rounded individual who approaches health, well being and quality of life from all possible positive directions.
6. Favor Disease Prevention
Whenever possible, naturopathic physicians strive to prevent disease before it even has a chance to begin. This is done by proactively assessing risk factors, vulernabilities to disease, heredity and more. The practitioner then makes informed, appropriate interventions in collaboration with the patient.
Naturopathic medicine can include clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, nutritional medicine including prescribing specific vitamins and supplements, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, counseling, naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth) and in some cases minor surgery. However, naturopathic practitioners may also employ prescription medication, injection therapy, intravenous treatments and other Western methods.
So, Are Naturopathic Doctors Quacks?
In circling back around to our original question, you can see that it can’t be given the same answer for all cases.
Just as in the modern medicine and other professions, there can be quacks or charlatans anywhere; however, you would not generalize this term to the entire profession.
While there may be some unscrupulous or unskilled naturopathic practitioners, this doesn’t mean that all naturopathic doctors are quacks.
The healing power of nature and the human body is very real and very powerful. It is drastically understated and underestimated in Western medicine. The goal of many pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations is to disempower the public as much as possible while keeping them dependent upon the medical system for their well being. Somewhere along the way, this profits-based system became more focused on profits rather than acting in the best interests of its clients.
The top naturopathic doctors draw from the best of both natural cures and today’s modern innovations. It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation; however, naturopathic doctors strive to implement natural processes first and instead of more invasive measures whenever possible. Persons looking for an organic, holistic approach to their diet, lifestyle and healthcare choices are often drawn to naturopathic practitioners for all of these reasons.
Demand for Naturopaths and Natural Supplements On the Rise
Today, naturopathic doctors are pushing actively for more respect and recognition in the U.S., Canada and many other Western countries. Homeopathy, Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practitioners are some of the offshoots of naturopathic medicine.
Naturopaths participate in educational programs to reflect their desired specialty and area of focus. Traditional naturopaths in the U.S. are represented by the American Naturopathic Association (ANA) and the American Naturopathic Medical Association (ANMA). The practice of naturopathic medicine is legal in all American states except two: Tennessee and Florida.
As you can see, the answer to the question “Are naturopathic doctors quacks?” is: “Not usually, but there can be bad apples in any bunch.” As with any decision, it is up to the consumer to be discerning. Naturopathic doctors favor the use of natural supplements, vitamins, cures and minimally invasive treatments. With the growing public interest in self-care, empowerment, organic diet and living as naturally and holistically as possible, the demand for naturopathic doctors is likely to keep rising.