Back to Basics
Today, Naturopathic Medicine is considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine, when in reality it has been foundational to all modern medicine. As a new graduate from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, the fundamentals are at the forefront of my mind. In school, we discussed in detail the principles of our medicine as the basis for how we treat. It has become clear to me over my undergraduate degree and the 4-year naturopathic doctorate (ND) that many people, including patients, are unfamiliar with the following 6 principles which guide our practice:
1. First, Do No Harm Primum non nocere
Any therapy should work synergistically with the natural healing process to avoid suppression of symptoms to not cause further harm.
2. The Healing Power of Nature Vis medicatrix naturae
The body has an innate ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. Naturopathic treatment should support this inherent process by rebalancing the internal and external environments.
3. Treat the Cause Tolle causam
Identify the underlying cause of disease, remove obstacles blocking health and treat the root cause, not just the symptoms
4. Treat the Whole Person Tolle totum
Health and disease are conditions of an entire being, treatment must address the biochemical, physical, and mental/emotional layers of a person to restore healthy balance
5. Doctor as Teacher Docere
A positive trust based doctor-patient relationship that not only treats, but also teaches can empower patients to be responsible for their own health and healing
6. Prevention is key Prevention
Fortifying health is more effective than fighting disease; Naturopathic medicine supports this through patient education and promotion of healthy living and assessment of individual risk factors.
Based on these principles, naturopathic medicine is patient-centred primary care with a focus on prevention. It is based on the simple concept of the healing power of nature, which integrates modern medicine with traditional techniques to stimulate the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. By addressing the underlying cause of dysfunction and acknowledging the body as a whole system, functional states of health can be restored and maintained.
I will be bringing these 6 principles into all my patient visits, and as the naturopathic resident at INMC look forward to incorporating these as much as possible into the Integrative Community Assistance Program (ICAP) as well.