What is the Difference Between a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Medical Doctor (MD)?
Both NDs and MDs are highly educated healthcare professionals that undergo a rigorous training program before being able to practice. Some have a perception of naturopathic doctors as an alternative to medical doctors, but they are truly just healthcare professionals that are trained in a comprehensive and holistic way of approaching medicine that centers on the patient and prevention. 1 Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine are complementary and can be extremely beneficial when used in conjunction with one another.
Like medical doctors, naturopathic doctors are licensed primary healthcare providers that are qualified to diagnose and treat illnesses. 2
What are the Core Values of Naturopathic Medicine?
Prevention: naturopathic physicians are committed to helping their patients prevent health problems before they begin, where possible, by focusing on diet, lifestyle, and potential risk factors related to genetics, lifestyle, and environment.
First Do No Harm: the Therapeutic Order guides NDs in addressing patient issues with gentle, natural solutions that are not overly invasive. The focus is to address the root cause, not simply avoid the suppression of symptoms when possible. 3
Doctor as Teacher: the word “doctor” is actually derived from a word that means “teacher,” and in naturopathic medical practice, there is a focus on educating patients on their own health, nutrition, and risk factors. This empowers the patient to gain greater control over their own health.
The Healing Power of Nature: naturopathic doctors work to facilitate natural healing processes by removing obstacles to healing and helping to create a healthy environment that supports healing, both internally and externally.
Identify and Treat the Causes: naturopathic medicine operates by not just managing symptoms, but by identifying and treating the cause of the symptoms. 4
What Types of Illnesses Can Naturopathic Medicine Treat?
Naturopathic medicine helps patients with a myriad of health issues and can be safely used in conjunction with conventional medical intervention. 5 Naturopathic medicine is often beneficial to those experiencing chronic fatigue, diabetes, digestive problems, chronic pain issues, heart disease, asthma and other respiratory conditions, fertility issues, menopause, and more.
Visiting a naturopathic doctor can also be beneficial even if you are not experiencing health issues, because an ND will help you to form healthy habits and focus on the prevention of future health problems, particularly those you may be more at risk for. 6
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