In Honor of Naturopathic Medicine Week

Root Whole Body Front Page, healing + injury prevention, natural remedies


Naturopathic medicine is one of the few branches of medicine that values ancient healing techniques and wisdom, such as herbal medicine, as well as modern techniques and therapies such as conventional lab work, imaging, and medicine when appropriate. Naturopaths are able to balance and understand these two worlds because of their understanding of naturopathic philosophy as well as their training.

The philosophy of Naturopathic medicine is based on six principles:

  1. The healing power of nature – this tenet asserts that our bodies have an innate ability to heal itself provided the right set of circumstances, such as the correct diet, the proper sleep and movement, and the right set of nutrients. If a patient’s body is in a disease state it is up to the physician to ascertain what the obstacles to cure are and what can be done to bring them back in line with nature and a state of health.
  2. Identify and treat the cause – In order to achieve true health and healing it is the physician’s job to discover the cause of a person’s disease and not simply mask symptoms. At times it is appropriate to assist in the relief of symptoms, however, the ultimate goal is to discover the underlying reason behind an illness.
  3. First do no harm – Naturopathic medicine strives to find ways to guide the body back into alignment and a state of health. When we palliate to relieve symptoms through the use of both synthetic and natural substances this may drive disease states deeper and harm the patient. This is why treating the cause of disease is of high importance to a naturopath.
  4. Treat the whole person – Many forces are at work that affect overall health. These include not only physical, but also mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and genetic components. It is important to take all of these into account when treating a patient. When any of these are left out it could lead to inability to attain optimal health and wellness.
  5. The physician as teacher – Naturopathic medicine relies heavily on lifestyle changes and personal responsibility. It is the role of the physician to take the time to educate patients on the importance of these lifestyle changes and be a source of inspiration, support, and encouragement.
  6. Prevention -Many diseases are multifactorial and these factors cannot always be controlled, such as genetics. However, naturopathic physicians take the time to learn the best ways to not only treat, but also prevent diseases from manifesting in the first place. When you see a naturopath they will do their best to address all of a patients concerns, but they are also thinking about prevention and what might happen down the line to the patient’s health if certain factors are not addressed.

Naturopathic physicians attend 4 year accredited medical schools. The first 2 years of training look very similar to their conventional colleagues in that it focuses on human physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and the basic medical sciences. Further training focuses on learning a wide range of natural healing modalities such as clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, mind/body medicine, pharmacology and others. In addition, the last two years of school are spent in clinical training where they practice primary care under the advisement of attending physicians.

Naturopathic medicine has been present as a distinct system of healing in this country for over 100 years. There were once naturopathic medical schools throughout the United States and thousands of naturopathic physicians. However, the rise in popularity of surgery and drugs in mainstream medicine lead to the decline of these schools. At one point there was only one naturopathic medical school left, the National College of Natural Medicine, which was founded in Portland Oregon in 1956. Fortunately, the past several years has lead to an increase in awareness and need for this type of medicine and the profession is growing. People are recognizing the value in therapies that are safer, have fewer side effects, are cheaper, and are aimed at keeping people out of hospitals and off of pharmaceuticals. Naturopaths are well positioned for a health care revolution focused not on disease management, but on promoting optimal wellness and health.

Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with one of Root’s naturopathic doctors to begin your journey toward a healthier and happier you. Give the front desk a call at 503-288-7668 and they’ll be happy to set you up.