Holistic Medicine: Its Benefits and Dangers
Holistic medicine can be a beneficial avenue of healthcare for many people with varied health issues and desired outcomes, but it also has a reputation of being riskier than conventional medicine. When practiced by licensed naturopathic doctors – the risk to natural therapies is typically far lower than conventional treatment. Here is a brief guide to holistic medicine with information on its benefits and how to ensure that you are following safe advice from a licensed healthcare professional.
The Benefits of Holistic Medicine - Why is it Popular?
Naturopathic medicine has been gaining more and more popularity as a beneficial route to better health, either on its own or as a complement to traditional healthcare. There are a number of advantages of naturopathic medicine that make it appealing to many different people.
Naturopathic medicine focuses heavily on prevention. This means that a naturopathic doctor (ND) will work with patients to determine the healthiest diets and lifestyle choices for each person’s individual health concerns and conditions.
The relationship between a naturopathic doctor and their patient is one of collaboration and learning. Naturopathic doctors not only treat their patients, they also teach their patients about how treatment and prevention work in order to empower patients to take more initiative and control when it comes to their own health.
Naturopathic medicine follows the principle of “first, do no harm,” which means that naturopathic approaches to health issues prioritize a lack of invasiveness. Many naturopathic treatments involve dietary and lifestyle changes, herbal supplementation, and other gentle therapies that are safe to use by themselves or in tandem with more conventional medical approaches. It is imperative to follow the guidance of a licensed naturopathic doctor to ensure the treatment plan is best for you.
Because naturopathic medicine often employs a gentle approach to health and wellness, it can usually be safely used in tandem with medication and other forms of conventional medicine. Many people like having options for treatment approaches that they can use in unison, and naturopathic medicine is an excellent way to do this safely and effectively when guided by a licensed provider. While many natural products are safe, there are interactions to medications and therapies that patients should be aware of. Additionally, if you are pregnant, nursing or have an underlying health condition it is best to connect with a licensed doctor
If you are new to naturopathic medicine, your first appointment will be longer than most visits you are used to, and you will spend much of that time answering questions about your diet and lifestyle, health history, and what changes you would like to see.
Dangers of Holistic Medicine - What are the Risks?
Many people who have not tried holistic medicine before are concerned about whether it may be dangerous. It is important to understand that taking medical advice from an unlicensed naturopathic practitioner does come with a high risk and we do not recommend it, just as we would never recommend going to an unlicensed dentist or other healthcare professional. You should always make sure that you are consulting a fully licensed naturopathic doctor who has undergone the appropriate education in order to be qualified as a healthcare provider. Interested in becoming an ND?
Sometimes, people wonder if they should take health advice from anyone who is not a medical doctor (MD). It is crucial to understand that the level of education that a licensed naturopathic doctor has is very similar to that of an MD, they simply specialize in different aspects of medicine.
In order to become a licensed naturopathic doctor, a person must complete a Bachelor’s degree (4 years), a Doctorate (4 years), andan optional residency (1 to 3 years). Licensed NDs have completed a total of 8-11 years of education that includes supervised clinical practice, coursework, research, and laboratory experience.
The Risks of Going to an Unlicensed Naturopath
Some people practice as unlicensed naturopaths, which means that they do not have the same level of training and education as a licensed naturopathic health practitioner and do not have the same level of expertise. It is never recommended to take advice from an unlicensed healthcare provider because there are far more risks involved. Unregulated education is not held to uniform standards, and there is a lack of oversight by regulatory agencies and testing bodies. When choosing a naturopathic doctor or other holistic healthcare practitioner, always ask about their education, training, licensing, and experience.
Interested in Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor?
If you are interested in a career in holistic medicine, becoming a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) ensures that you have all of the skills and certification required to professionally and responsibly practice natural medicine. AANMC schools are located across North America and provide respected ND-degree programs with practical laboratory work and research opportunities as well as course-based learning.