What does a Naturopath do?

What is a Naturopath?

Naturopathy, (also known as naturopathic medicine or natural medicine) is an alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body's natural ability to heal and maintain itself.

Naturopathic Medicine is:

a certain system of primary health care that looks at the root causes of illness, and promotes health and healing using natural therapies. It supports your body’s own healing ability using a multi-faceted approach to disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention that includes:

  • Acupuncture/Asian Medicine
  • Botanical Medicine
  • Physical Medicine (Massage, Hydrotherapy, etc.)
  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Homeopathic Medicine
  • Lifestyle Counseling

The term "Naturopathy" is derived from Greek and Latin translated as "nature disease". Naturopathic philosophy favours a holistic approach and minimal use of surgery and drugs.

Naturopaths strive to find the cause of disease by understanding the body, mind and spirit of the person.

There are two main areas of focus in naturopathy. One is supporting the body’s own healing abilities, and the other is empowering people to make necessary lifestyle changes for an individual’s best possible health.

Short bouts of illness as well as chronic conditions are treated, but the main focus is on educating patients in order to prevent disease.

What does a Naturopath do?

Naturopathic treatment is all about good health and wellness. The main thought behind naturopathic practice is the belief that the body has a natural ability to strive for health. The doctor’s role is to work with a person to promote the natural healing of the body. Health is believed to be more than just the absence of disease, and the naturopathic doctor works on strengthening the body’s natural defences.

Naturopathic doctors will see the symptoms of a disease as the body’s defence mechanism trying to bring the person back to a state of health. Rather than suppress the symptoms, the doctor will work with this process. A path of treatment will be designed that will meet the patient’s needs.

In order to nourish and cleanse the body, the naturopathic doctor may suggest dietary changes. Avoiding certain foods or eating certain foods will be discussed, as well as perhaps looking into taking supplements.

A diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains are often the basis to getting a healthy body, but the patient may first be put on a cleanse to rid the body of toxins. Lifestyle changes may also be discussed, such as incorporating relaxation techniques and exercise into the patient’s life.

Common ailments that Naturopathic Doctors treat:

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Digestive Complaints
  • Menopause
  • Menstrual Problems
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Migraines
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Constipation
  • Back Pain
  • Depression
  • Arthritis

How compatible are you with this career?

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How to become a Naturopath

Naturopathic applicants must possess internal qualities such as motivation, concern for others, integrity and a belief in the process and application of natural medicine.

There are six primary principles of naturopathic medicine, and they are adhered to by naturopathic doctors, similar to the Hippocratic Oath. They are:

1 - The Healing Power Of Nature: Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself.

2 - Identify And Treat The Causes: Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.

3 - First, Do No Harm: Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.

4 - Doctor As Teacher: Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.

5 - Treat the Whole Person: View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.

6 - Prevention: Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.

If you are considering a career as a naturopathic doctor, it will take a long-term commitment both for school and post graduation. In addition to the same basic training in the sciences as medical doctors, naturopathic schools introduce courses in clinical nutrition, psychological counseling and natural and holistic approaches to heal the body. Naturopathic schools provide a curriculum that will prepare the naturopathic doctor to view patients as individuals, taking into consideration both physical symptoms as well as other things in their lives that may be affecting their health.

While a specific major isn’t required for admission, students need to have completed courses in english, humanities, math, physics and psychology. A strong emphasis on biology and chemistry is necessary. It would help prepare the student for naturopathic study if courses like anatomy, biochemistry, botany, physiology and developmental psychology are taken.

Most naturopathic medicine programs are four-year programs, but it is not unusual for students to take up to five years to complete their training. This would be in addition to their undergraduate degree.

Graduates of doctor of naturopathic medicine programs must pass standardized licensing exams. They must also register with appropriate provincial or state licensing boards.

What is the workplace of a Naturopath like?

Most naturopathic doctors work in private clinics and set their own hours. They may work evenings and weekends to accommodate their patients. They are either sitting at a desk talking to patients, doing paperwork, or they are on their feet examining and treating their patients.