Castanet welcomes our a new columnist, Dr. Doug Lobay, a Kelowna naturopathic physician whose weekly column will focus on health issues.
I am frequently asked the question, what is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct and separate branch of medicine, based on the following principles according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:
The healing power of nature
The inherent healing power acts powerfully through biochemical mechanisms in the body and mind to maintain and restore health. Naturopathic physicians work to restore and support these inherent healing systems when they have broken down but using methods, methods and techniques that are in harmony with natural processes.
First do no harm
Naturopathic physicians prefer non-invasive treatments which minimize the risk of harmful side effects. They are trained to know which patients they can treat safely and which patients they need to refer to other health care practitioners.
Find the cause
Every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of diet, lifestyle or other habits of the individual. A naturopathic physician is trained to find and remove the underlying cause of a disease.
Treat the whole person
Health or disease comes from a complex interaction of physical, emotional, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle and other factors. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person, taking these factors into account.
The naturopathic approach to health can prevent minor illnesses from developing into more serious and chronic and degenerative diseases. Patients are taught the principles with which to live a healthy life and by following these principles they can prevent most major illnesses.
Naturopathic physician’s are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. They are trained in the conventional medical sciences, but they are not allopathic medical doctors. Naturopathic physicians treat disease and restore by using therapies from the sciences of clinical nutrition, botanical or herbal medicine, vitamins and mineral supplementation, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and physical medicine, exercise therapy, counselling and stress management, acupuncture and oriental medicine, midwifery and minor surgical procedures. They tailor their approaches to the needs of the individual patient.
Naturopathic medicine is effective in treating most health problems, whether acute or chronic. Naturopathic physicians cooperate with all other branches of medical sciences, referring to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate. In practice, naturopathic physicians perform physical exams, laboratory testing, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, allergy testing and other modern and non-conventional diagnostic tests. They are the only primary health care practitioners trained as experts in natural therapeutics. They are also trained to meet the needs of the individual based on a philosophy that acknowledges the patient as a participant in their own health care.
The naturopathic physician had a doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from a four-year post-graduate degree program, taught at an accredited college or university. They are licensed and regulated in many provinces and U.S. states by a college or board responsible to the governing body, whose mandate it is to protect the public. They must pass rigorous board examinations and their actions are subject to review by a board of examiners.
In B.C., naturopathic physicians are licensed through the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and are responsible to government oversight and regulation.
Naturopathic physicians practice as general practitioners and in B.C. have a wide scope of practice that includes modern lab testing and the ability to write prescriptions for most prescription drugs like common antibiotics, various hormones, pain killers and anti-inflammatories, blood pressure and heart medicines when appropriate.
Naturopathic medicine is an integral part of healthcare paradigm in British Columbia. With widespread doctor shortages naturopathic physicians can fill the gap and help reduce the burden on the current medical system.
Naturopathic medicine can also offer alternatives, adjunctive and integrative medicine options when appropriate. Unfortunately, many of the services offered by naturopathic physicians are not covered by B.C.’s Medical Services Plan payments and the burden is often passed on to the patient.
While the quality of care may be high, there is a cost to the patient and most extended health care plans offer some coverage.
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest their patients in the care of the human frame, in proper diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical advice. All information and content are for general information purposes only.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.