Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) or naturopathic medical doctors (N.M.D.s) strive to find the cause of disease by understanding the body, mind, and spirit of the person. Most naturopathic doctors use a variety of therapies and techniques (such as nutrition, behavior change, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and acupuncture).
There are 2 areas of focus in naturopathy:
- one is supporting the body’s own healing abilities,
- the other is empowering people to make lifestyle changes necessary for the best possible health. While naturopathic doctors treat both short bouts of illness and chronic conditions, their emphasis is on preventing disease and educating patients.
Because naturopaths combine so many therapies, it is difficult to single out specific illnesses that respond well to naturopathy. Naturopaths’ treat both acute and chronic conditions from arthritis to ear infections (otitis media), from HIV to asthma, from congestive heart failure to hepatitis. N.D.s treat the whole person, rather than only treating a disease or its symptoms, aiming to help their patients maintain a balanced state of good health. Because of this holistic approach, naturopathy may be especially suited for treating chronic illnesses.
A visit to a naturopathic doctor, or N.D., will be similar to a visit to your family doctor. The doctor will take a very thorough history, asking about your diet, lifestyle, stress, and environmental exposures. Next, the N.D. will do a physical examination, which may require laboratory tests. In addition to conventional tests, N.D.s may use unique techniques, such as the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA), Indican urine testing, iridology, or live blood analysis to name a few.