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I’ve been writing a lot about the philosophy of naturopathic medicine because I want the general public (and especially my own future patients) to understand the vast difference in approach between conventional and naturopathic medicine. This is another reason why I wrote a post on what ND’s are not – naturopathic physicians are not simply doctors who prescribe natural things instead of synthetic ones. Our entire curriculum and practice is centered around a philosophy of treating the whole person, addressing the cause of illness and allowing the body to restore health naturally. It is this fundamental philosophical difference which directs our treatment approach.
So why should you see a naturopathic physician?
To understand the difference between naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine, let’s first look at the conventional medical model:
- Disease is equated to pathology and disability
- Healing is removing pathology, suppressing symptoms and decreasing disability
- Therapies are mostly used AFTER the appearance of symptoms (retroactive care)
Conventional medicine excels at treating patients within this model. In fact, I will unashamedly say that natural treatments are vastly inferior to conventional treatments for suppressing symptoms, and often for removing pathology.
What conventional medicine doesn’t address is health.
Naturopathic physicians recognize that good health is more than a mere absence of symptoms. We also recognize that healing and creating health is a process that goes beyond simply removing pathology. I like to use this diagram of a staircase or ladder to describe the stages of health and illness:
On a gradient of health, most patients come to their doctor when they are at least 2/3rds of the way “down” the ladder – when they reach the point of having symptoms of a problem. The issue with the conventional model is that the treatments are aimed at merely getting patients off of that step, not restoring health. Many patients spend their entire lives at the “dysfunction” stage of ladder, fully medicated in order to suppress their symptoms, but completely unaware that they are only one step away from symptoms and disease progression.
Similarly, most patients not aware of the potential for restoration! I have seen countless patients now, who after months of naturopathic treatment proclaimed “I never knew I could feel this good!”
This is why naturopathic medicine has an entirely different approach. Naturopathic physicians are experts in adding health, not removing symptoms. We focus on optimizing the body’s own healing process in order to reach a point of complete restoration.
So why see a naturopathic physician? Please don’t come to see us to remove your disease. Rather, come to see us to regain your life!