Back to Basics
Working with different patient populations in the Integrative Community Assistance Program (ICAP), it is apparent that many people are unsure of what a naturopathic doctor (ND) is and what we can do. Based on this, and as a recent graduate, I have a vested interest in continuing to expand the general understanding of how our medicine can help. To start, the 4-year post-graduate doctorate program that all licensed ND’s must complete covers a similar curriculum as conventional medical schools with regards to basic sciences including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, microbiology, pharmacology and laboratory diagnostics. Where the medical education differs is how we actually learn to treat the human body both preventatively and in the case of illness, disease, or dysfunction.
The 6 main naturopathic therapeutic modalities are:
- Nutrition: Focusing on how to modulate and manage physiology, metabolism, nutrient requirements, diet and food sensitivities/intolerances to treat different states of health and disease.
- Counselling: Creating a safe, trust-based, doctor-patient relationship allows us to address mental/emotional matters, integrate the mind/body connection, and help support our patients in achieving their health goals.
- Botanical Medicine: Clinical use of whole plants, extracts, and formulations/combinations of medicinal plants based on their specific actions and indications as evinced by current research and historical use.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine: Originating over 2500 years ago, one of the oldest forms of medicine incorporating acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle to balance the body’s energy or life force known as “qi”
- Physical Medicine: Orthopaedic assessments, exercise and rehabilitation, soft tissue mobilization, spinal manipulations/adjustments, and injection therapies to address pain and musculoskeletal issues.
- Homeopathy: Based on the principle of “like cures like” or the idea that any substance which can produce symptoms in a healthy person can, in a diluted form, treat similar symptoms in a dysfunctional state by bringing the body’s awareness to the problem and stimulating an internal healing response.
Following the Integrative Model, we look at the biochemical, physical, and mental/emotional elements of a person, from multiple perspectives, which results in individualized treatment that combines a variety of these therapeutic modalities.