Cathy A. Picard ND
Licensed Naturopathic Physician
What Is Naturopathic Medicine?
These principles stand as the distinguishing marks of the profession:
The healing power of nature --
Identify and treat the cause --
First do no harm --
Treat the whole person --
The physician as teacher --
The physician must work to create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with the patient. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for his or her own health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates or accomplishes healing. The physician must strive to inspire hope as well as understanding. T
Some practitioners in Europe and America, however, perceived that valuable, empirically proven natural therapies were being lost, and struggled to retain the practice of promoting health through stimulation of the vital force and the rational use of natural agents.
A committee of Kneipp practitioners met in 1900 and determined that the practice should be expanded to incorporate all natural methods of healing, including botanical medicines, nutritional therapy, physiotherapy, psychology (mind-body connection), homeopathy and the manipulative therapies. They called their profession “Naturopathy.”
The first school of naturopathy was founded by Dr. Lust in New York City and graduated its first class in 1902. During the same period, Dr. Foster founded a similar institution in Idaho that trained the early naturopathic pioneers responsible for establishing licensing laws in Oregon and Washington states.
Naturopathic medical conventions in the 1920s attracted more than 10,000 naturopathic physicians. There were more than 20 naturopathic medical colleges, and N.D.s were licensed in a majority of states. Naturopathic medicine experienced a decline in the 1940s and ’50s with the rise of pharmaceutical drugs, technological medicine, and the idea that drugs could eliminate all disease. As one after another N.D. degree program closed down, National College of Naturopathic Medicine was founded to keep the medicine alive. The drop-off in popularity was so steep that during its first 20 years, National College of Naturopathic Medicine graduated only 70 students. From its founding in 1956 until 1979, when three of its alumni founded John Bastyr College (now Bastyr University) in Seattle, it was the only naturopathic college in the U.S.
Since the late 1970s, three more naturopathic colleges have opened, and National College of Natural Medicine’s enrollment has quadrupled. This growth is in direct response to the changing needs of our society; not only is the public demanding a medical model in which the individual plays a more active role in her/his health and healing process, but doctors also want a medical model that is more patient-centered and holistic.
The naturopathic physician is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as:
one who “diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that bases its treatment of all physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing the body, utilizes physiological, psychological and mechanical methods, such as air, water, heat, earth, phytotherapy (treatment by use of plants), electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and all natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural foods, herbs, and natural remedies. Practice excludes major surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and prescribing of drugs, except those assimilable substances containing elements or compounds which are compounds of body tissues and are physiologically compatible to body processes for maintenance of life.”
The therapeutic modalities used by N.D.s are described below.
Botanical Medicine: Many plant substances are powerful medicines. Where isolated chemically derived drugs may address only a single problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. When properly utilized, most botanical medicines can be applied effectively with minimal likelihood of side effects.
Clinical Nutrition: Food is the best medicine and is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Many medical conditions can be treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than they can by other means, with fewer complications and side effects. N.D.s use diet, natural hygiene, fasting, and nutritional supplementation in their practices.
Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of “like cures like.” Clinical observation indicates that it works on a subtle, yet powerful, energetic level, gently acting to promote healing on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels.
Mind/Body Medicine: Mental attitudes and emotional states may influence, or even cause, physical illness. Counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and other therapies are used to help patients heal psychologically.
“Scope of practice” is specifically defined by the legislation in the various states and provinces that license or regulate naturopathic medicine, and practice varies significantly among states, provinces, and countries.
Second year focuses on the study of disease and diagnosis with the beginning of the botanical, therapeutic manipulation, clinical nutrition, and homeopathic medicine sequences. To enter into the clinical training of the third year, students must pass all basic sciences and diagnostic courses as well as a clinic entrance examination.
Third year continues with focus on the botanical, manipulation, clinical nutrition, and homeopathic medicine sequences, begins the organ systems courses (which emphasize case management), and gives major emphasis to clinical training. Students must pass a clinical primary status exam to proceed in the clinic.
Fourth year continues the organ systems courses. The major focus of the fourth year is practical clinical training, working side by side with licensed physicians caring for patients. A clinic proficiency exam ensures clinical competency prior to graduation.
For a comparison of curricula of MD and ND education, see the following:
More Information about N.D. education is available at the following websites:
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