Primary care physicians are not only the first medical contact for a patient who is suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition, but also the provider of continuing medical care for all aspects of health and wellness, from pediatric to geriatric and everything in between. This makes them an incredibly important ally in an individual’s fight to achieve and maintain their optimal health and well-being. That said, there are a wide variety of primary care physicians, practicing a wide variety of medical services to address not only a broad range of medical conditions but also utilizing a broad range of medical therapies.
Naturopathic care originates from the nineteenth-century “nature cure” practiced in Europe where water, fresh air, diet and herbs were used to treat disease. It was in the early twentieth-century that naturopathic care, a combination of nature cure, homeopathy, spinal manipulation and other therapies, first came to the United States and Canada.
Naturopathic physicians are trained as primary care physicians in four-year, accredited doctoral-level naturopathic medical schools. These doctors learn to blend age-old healing traditions with scientific advances and current research in order to deliver the best possible care to their patients. They are guided by unique principles that recognize the body’s capacity to heal itself, and they focus largely on disease prevention by encouraging patients to be responsible for their own optimal health.
Naturopathic physicians take the time to thoroughly understand each patient’s specific symptoms, as they recognize these symptoms as the body’s way to communicate an underlying imbalance which, when set right, can lead to an improved health state. Illness is seen as the result of a disturbance of optimal health through poor nutrition, chronic stress, toxic exposure or other means. A naturopathic physician wants to help the patient restore their optimal health by identifying and reducing or eliminating those things that have disturbed it. Naturopathic treatments focus on addressing the root problem, rather than the surface symptoms, so that the individual can truly experience an improved state of health and well-being.
Naturopathic physicians typically begin treatments with minimal interventions before slowly proceeding into higher level interventions as necessary. They seek to re-establish basic conditions of optimal health by assisting the patient in developing a healthier diet and lifestyle; stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms through various techniques, such as hydrotherapy; supporting weakened or damaged systems through homeopathy, botanical medicines or specific exercises; correcting structural integrity through massage or naturopathic manipulation; and addressing pathology through dietary supplements. Where necessary, a naturopathic physician may help a patient address pathology through pharmaceutical substances or surgical correction. Depending on their training, naturopathic doctors can provide services in the areas of nutrition, botanical medicine, physical medicine, homeopathy, physical and clinical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging, emergency medicine, psychology, pharmacology, minor surgery, acupuncture and Oriental medicine and more.
Naturopathic primary care provides patients with a workable, natural alternative to traditional medicine wherein their bodies’ natural healing capabilities are stimulated and enhanced as necessary and possible so that the individual may experience a better quality of life.