Naturopathic Medicine

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Giselle Girault, MD
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“I admire the Naturopathic Medicine approach of nutrition and behavior modification and I recommend it to my patients… ”



History of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathy has been around since ancient times. Hippocrates, a physician who lived about 2400 years ago, formulated one of the main principles of naturopathic medicine, vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power of nature.

For thousands of years, healers have been utilizing herbs, food, water, touch, and fasting to spur the innate ability of the body to heal itself. Naturopathy was still popular in the United States well into the early part of the 20th century. However, the discovery of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals and the popularity of more institutionalized large scale “scientific medicine” contributed to the decline of naturopathic medicine by mid-century and the emergence of today’s mainstream medicine, termed allopathic medicine.

Critics of this more conventional medical model soon began to see prominent downsides. Sky rocketing costs, clinical limitations, and side effects of drugs all contributed to Americans once again beginning to turn to more “alternative and complimentary” options in the later part of the 20th century. Today, licensed naturopathic doctors serve as primary care physicians in states that have licensing laws for naturopathic medicine.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is based on a holistic approach combining safe and effective traditional therapies along with modern scientific approaches in medicine. One of the key differences between traditional (allopathic) medicine and naturopathic medicine is that naturopathy focuses on the individual rather than treating based on the generality of symptoms.

Naturopathic doctors try to discover the underlying cause of pathology and then use natural therapies to promote the body’s natural healing process. Naturopaths may utilize a variety of modalities including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical manipulation, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, counseling, and hydrotherapy among others. These approaches have proven successful in safely treating a variety of both acute and chronic conditions.

Naturopathic medicine is based on six philosophical principles:

  1. First Do No Harm – primum non nocere: Safe and effective therapies are utilized to promote health.
  2. The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae: The body has an inherent ability to restore health through nature’s healing properties.
  3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam: Naturopathic physicians seek to discover and address the underlying cause of a disease.
  4. Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum: A holistic approach is utilized by considering multiple factors of health and disease, and then formulating a treatment plan specific to the individual’s needs.
  5. The Physician is a Teacher – docere: The naturopathic doctor’s role is to educate and empower patients to take responsibility for their own health.
  6. Prevention is the best “cure”: Assessing risk factors and then appropriately modifying lifestyle along with education is one of the best methods to reduce susceptibility to disease.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor’s training?

Licensed naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) have attended a rigorous four-year graduate level medical program at an accredited institution. During the first two years of the program they are trained in the same basic science and clinical applications that traditional medical students are educated in.

After passing national science boards, they progress through the second two years of the program where they intern under other doctors in a clinical setting as well as receiving extensive training in natural modalities. In order to obtain a professional license, students must pass challenging national clinical examinations (NPLEX) after completing the program of study.

Students from online programs or mail-order organizations are not eligible to sit for these tests. Physicians are responsible for people’s health and as such must meet the highest standards of training.

Naturopathic Modalities

Clinical Nutrition

Naturopathic doctors receive extensive training in clinical nutrition. They understand that proper nutrition is the basis of health, and may utilize supplements, specific diets, or fasting as a means to safely address many acute and chronic diseases. In addition, they can educate the patient to select healthier dietary choices as preventative measures. Carolinas Natural Health Center offers a very effective weight loss program geared towards whole foods as well as tools and structure to keep the weight off permanently.

Botanical Medicine

Plants have been used medicinally for thousands of years for their healing properties, and are the origins of many pharmaceutical drugs. They may be utilized in their traditional forms or as phytomedicines, which are scientifically researched and formulated.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like. Homeopathic medicines are diluted thousands of times and when given astutely can gently stimulate the body to heal itself. They can help some conditions that have not responded well to other therapies.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water for healing and to maintain health. Water may be applied locally or to the entire body, also known as constitutional hydrotherapy.

Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into the skin to treat disease, normalize physiological body functions, modify pain perception, and promote health. This may be used alone or in conjunction with Chinese herbs, acupressure, and cupping, depending upon a patient’s needs.

Lifestyle Counseling

Naturopathic physicians are well trained to educate their patients on aspects of lifestyle including exercise, sleep, environmental exposures, and stress management. They can formulate plans for more optimal health while empowering the patient to take responsibility for their own health.

Naturopathic Licensure Status in North Carolina

Naturopathic doctors in this state that have graduated from an accredited four-year medical program are actively pursuing licensure for the state of North Carolina. Our goal is to achieve licensure for the state, thereby assuring the public that a person claiming to be a naturopathic doctor really graduated from an accredited naturopathic medical program with training as a primary care physician.

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