As licensed Naturopathic Physicians in the State of Washington, we act as both a primary care physician and a specialist. That means that we can act as your main doctor, providing general health services, such as annual exams (including pap smears), well child exams, blood work, sports physicals, etc. If you have a doctor whom you like working with, then we can provide you with specialized care, addressing a specific or series of complaints that are not being “fixed” by your doctor. We are happy to communicate and work with your medical provider. As a licensed doctor in Washington State, we do have full prescriptive rights and are able to prescribe medications when needed. This is the beauty of having a Naturopath as your primary doctor, as we can start with the lower intervention treatments, but can access modern medicine when needed.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct method of primary health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness. Naturopathic physicians seek to restore and maintain optimum health in their patients by emphasizing nature’s inherent self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae. This is accomplished through education and the rational use of natural therapeutics.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by six principles on which its practice is based:
- The healing power of nature: Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process that is ordered and intelligent. Obstacles to healing and recovery are removed to facilitate this self-healing process.
- Identify and treat the causes, rather than eliminate or suppress them. The cause can be as unique as the person themself.
- First do no harm: Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) follow guidelines to avoid harming the patient. This involves methods and substances that minimize the risk of harmful side-effects, using the gentlest methods to diagnose and to treat.
- Doctor as teacher: The word “doctor” has as its root the Latin word “docere”, meaning “to teach”. This principle is taken very seriously by naturopathic doctors.
- Treat the whole person: Allopathic (conventional) medicine tends to treat only specific symptoms. In naturopathic medicine, the individual’s physical, mental, emotional and hereditary factors are extremely important and are always taken into consideration.
- Prevention: Prevention is an extremely important part of health care that is often largely ignored. The aim of naturopathic medicine is not to simply treat a problem once it has started; naturopathic doctors strive to prevent problems from starting in the first place. With naturopathic medicine, a person who has recovered from an illness also has the knowledge to prevent the problem from recurring.
Naturopathic doctors are trained to not just prescribe supplements for a pathology. We focus on the determinants of health and not those of disease. While many systems of medicine and healing arts that are in existence today can help people feel better, naturopathic medicine is unique in that it recognizes that restoration of health is not equivalent to treatment of disease. Naturopathic medicine regards disease as a dynamic process and not a pathologic entity. From the perspective of pathology, a number of disease entities have no identifiable cause and curative treatment. However, if approached from the perspective of wellness, every illness has an underlying process that is disturbing health and causing physical or emotional imbalance. Naturopathic doctors understand the hierarchy of healing that begins with reestablishing conditions for health and restoring balance.
Hierarchy of Healing in Naturopathic Medicine Through Therapeutic Order
- Establish the conditions for health
- Stimulate self-healing mechanisms
- Support weakened or damaged systems or organs
- Address structural integrity
- Address pathology using specific natural substances, modalities or interventions
- Address pathology using pharmacologic or synthetic substances
- Suppress pathology
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
– Thomas Edison