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What is a Naturopathic Physician?

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by Dr. Karen Purcell, M.M., N.D, C.N.

What is a Naturopathic Physician?

I often am asked, “What is a Naturopath” or Naturopathic Physician?  Well, here is a brief history.  Dr. Benedict Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York City and graduated its first class in 1902.  By the mid 1930’s there were more than twenty naturopathic colleges and over 10,000 practitioners.  The allopathic medical schools began to flourish at this time due to the Rockefellers.  They had enormous wealth and a chemical company with a pharmaceutical branch.  Soon, naturopathic education began to decline and allopathic medicine was the only type that was available.  Eventually, toward the end of the 1960’s interest was renewed in “natural medicine”.  Later, there was a patient – driven movement to bring back this discipline, as people were quite disenchanted with medicine that only espoused drugs and surgery.  Some of the subjects that naturopaths are trained in include:  anatomy, physiology, counseling, dietary evaluations, nutrition, herbalism, acupressure, homeopathy, iridology, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, oxygen therapy, aromatherapy (therapeutic use), and more.  In naturopathic medicine, the cause is central to their healing philosophy.  In allopathic medicine, symptom relief is the main concept of their healing philosophy, as reflected in their charter of 1926.

Naturopathy promotes health through education and non-invasive natural modalities.  A few of the concepts are as follows:  First, do no harm (Primum non nocere) is from the Hippocratic oath and naturopathy embraces only therapies which are designed to enhance healing and produce wellness; Recognize the power of nature (Vis medicatrix naturae).  Naturopathy is a system designed to work in harmony with nature in the restoration and support for the inherent natural healing systems of the body; Identify the cause (Tolle causam).  Find the cause, i.e. the source of the problem.  The correction of the cause is the most plausible way of eliminating symptoms and restoring health to the person.  Yes…the person.  Patients are PEOPLE.  They are not text books, blood tests, machines and theories; Involve the total person.  Naturopaths and holistic professionals have always believed in the Mind/Body connection; Identify the source.  Man has a myriad of ways to heal himself.  Allopathic medicine concentrates on germs.  They are the culprits!  Let’s rid ourselves of germs.  As numerous studies reflect…that is not possible.  It is man’s responsibility to strengthen his body, not continually depend on substances that kill germs…like anti-biotics and anti-bacterial soaps.  The germs, i.e. bacteria and viruses are smarter than we are and they have been here on planet earth a lot longer than we have.  They have figured out how to change and get stronger.  So, naturopaths feel that building strong bodies is more effective than simply killing germs.  We have all seen 2 people exposed to the same germs and only one gets sick.  What does this mean?  The person with the devitalized tissues gets sick.  The strong one does not; Prevent disease…that is the “mantra” of the naturopath.  Naturopathic medicine has a plethora of solutions for doing exactly that!       


Tags: naturopathic doctor allopathic medicine practitioners health wellness

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