Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

By Chad Krier N.D., D.C.

Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off  and combat disease.

Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but to also restore health. Naturopaths are versed in a set of philosophical principles that guide their therapeutic strategies (see below).

The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae), also known as “the Vis” by naturopaths, is the inherent self organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains,
and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent.

It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate, and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment. Illness does not occur without cause, and it is the job of the naturopathic physician to identify and treat the cause (tolle causam). Causes may originate in many areas. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body’s attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease.

The naturopathic physician seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

Naturopathic physicians apply a strategy known as Primum Non Nocere (first do no harm) by utilizing methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.

Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided; as suppression generally interferes with the healing process. Naturopathic physicians practice Docere (doctor as teacher). This is the original meaning of the word doctor is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health.

Naturopathic physicians also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship, therefore the patient is viewed as a co-learner.

It is important to treat the whole person. Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, spiritual, environmental, social (and other) factors. Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health.

The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person, taking all of these factors into account.

Naturopaths also believe in prevention. Naturopathic medical colleges emphasize the study of health as well as disease.

The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living.

Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.

Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and, therefore, promotes hygienic practices, organic practices, and environmentally friendly practices.

Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. It is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought , and action.

Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what disease(s) is/are being experienced. If wellness is really recognized and experienced by an individual, it will more quickly heal a given disease than direct treatment of the disease alone.

These principles guide the practice of Naturopathic Medicine and lay the groundwork for the therapeutic order. “What is the therapeutic order?”

Therapeutic order is the basic approach that naturopathic physicians use to guide their patients to wellness. They begin with least force and move to more invasive measures as necessary. Therapeutic order allows the physician to re-establish the basis for health by removing obstacles to cure. This is achievable by establishing a healthy regimen (i.e. healthy diet specific for the individual, weight bearing exercise, flexibility exercises, aerobic exercise and proper breathing techniques).

The next step is to stimulate the healing power of nature (stimulate the vis) by using various health promoting systems to gently, yet, powerfully stimulate the body such as nutrition, low dose botanicals, homeopathy, and constitutional hydrotherapy.

After the healing power of nature is stimulated, the physician must tonify the weakened systems by using modalities to strengthen the immune system, decrease toxicity, normalize inflammatory function, optimize metabolic function, balance regulatory systems, and enhance regeneration.

The naturopathic physician must also correct structural integrity by involving the patient in therapeutic exercise, spinal manipulation, massage, myofascial release, electrical modalities, and hydrotherapy in order for him/her to return to optimal structural condition.

By prescribing specific natural substances for pathology the physician uses vitamins, minerals, and herbs to promote health.

Sometimes the use of pharmacological substances is necessary for pathology. A naturopathic physician may prescribe pharmaceutical drugs on a limited basis to promote a return to health.

Naturopathic doctors receive a broad medical education that includes training in both conventional and natural medicine. The licensed Naturopathic physician receives over 630 hours of training in botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, naturopathic philosophy and advanced naturopathic therapeutics. The average MD counterpart receives less than 10 hours of training in the above. Therapeutic Nutrition is a cornerstone of Naturopathic medicine.

The licensed Naturopathic physician receives over 130 course hours of therapeutic nutrition. The average MD receives less than 6 hours of nutritional course work.

The Riordan Clinic Doctors employ a naturopathic approach with all co-learners that come through our door. The whole person is assessed as an individual which enables the development of a treatment plan that is unique to them.

Become a patient at the Riordan Clinic today and reap the benefits of our progressive natural approach to medicine.