Naturopathic doctors are trained in acupuncture and chinese medical concepts, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, spinal and joint manipulations, lifestyle counseling and stress management as well as other physical therapies. Therapies are often combined for their synergistic effects.
I often draw on all the modalities in developing a treatment plan, however, the primary focus of my practice are the therapies listed to the below.
Nutrition is one of the key aspects to living a healthy life. It provides the body with the many nutrients needed for proper function. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrition factors have to be present in the right balance for the bodies biochemical pathways to be effective. A naturopathic doctor can help you identify nutritional factors which may be contributing to your complaints; physical and emotional.
“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” – Hippocrates
The most common form of botanical medicine used by naturopathic doctors are tinctures. These are prepared by taking a concentrated form of the plant and mixing it with alcohol to help extract the medicinal compounds. The herb is soaked for hours or days depending on the plant. The solution is then pressed out, yielding the tincture.
Many of today’s medicines are actually the isolated active constituents of botanical medicines.
An example of this is Digitalis, a heart medication derived from the foxglove plant. Dr. William Withering discovered its use for treating angina, in 1775, while using an old family recipe. So why take botanicals over drugs?
There are two main reasons: fewer side effects and the medicinal effects tend to normalize physiological function. When used most effectively, the mechanism of action of an herb will often correct the underlying cause of a disorder. Drugs usually only deal with symptoms and not the cause. There is also research which has shown that the whole plant is more effective than the isolated constituent.
Many of the botanical medicines you find on the shelves of pharmacies and health food stores do not contain an adequate amount, if any, of the active constituent. To find a quality product and to avoid serious health consequence of self diagnosis and treatment you should seek out the advice of someone trained in the use of botanicals such as a naturopathic doctor.
Acupuncture originated in China over 5 thousand years ago. It is based on balancing the energy or Qi which flows in channels throughout the body. This can be accomplished by stimulating points along the channels, the use of diet and/or the use of herbal formulas (patents).
Acupuncture protocols can be developed in different ways. Some practitioners give treatment protocols in a cookbook fashion. For example, they will use the same points for everyone who comes in complaining of a headache. There are many causes of headaches and treatments should be specific for the individual. The difference in approach is often displayed in the results of the treatment.
Homeopathy is the most frequently used type of medicine in the world and is the medicine of choice of the British Royal Family. It was developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the early 1800’s. Its discovery is explained very well in the book Homeopathic Medicine at Home by Panos and Heimlich.
“It was while translating Lectures on the Materia Medica by William Cullen, a Scottish professor of medicine, that Hahnemann stumbled on the key to curing sick people. In this work, the author claimed that cinchona bark, or quinine, cured intermittent fever (malaria) because of its astringent and bitter qualities. This explanation did not sound plausible to Hahnemann, who know of other substances equally bitter, so he did a daring thing; he tested the medicine on himself.
I took by way of experiment, twice a day, four drachms of good China (quinine). My feet, finger ends, etc. at first became cold; I grew languid and drowsy; then my heart began to palpitate, and my pulse gew hard and small; intolerable anxiety, trembling, prostration throught all 4 limbs; then pulsation, in the head, redness of m cheeks, thirst, and in short, all these symptoms which are ordinarily characteristic of intermittent fever, made their appearance, on after the other, yet without the peculiar chill, chivering rigor. Briefly, even those symptoms which are or regular occurrence and especially characteristic – as the stupidity of mind, the kind of rigidity in all the limbs, but above all the numb, disagreeable sensation, which seems to have its seat in the periosteum, over every bone in the body – all these make their appearance. This paroxysm lasted two or three hours each time and recurred if I repeated this dose, not otherwise; I discontinued it, and was in good health.
This was the first “proving”, a testing of medicine on a healthy person. The symptoms Hahnemann developed corresponded exactly to the symptoms of malaria. Thus Hahnemann reasoned that malaria was cured by quinine, not because of its bitter taste but owing to the fact that the drug produces symptoms of malaria in a healthy person.”
This is the principle on which homeopathy is based, that “like cures like”. Homeopathics are substances, when prepared in a specific way, stimulate the body’s normal healing processes.
The habits and daily living choices we make have an enormous influence on our health. Naturopathic doctors explore the physical, emotional, nutritional and environmental factors that are affecting your health and help you to make effective choices.