1. Remove Obstacles to Health
Naturopathic initial visits typically are between 60-90 minutes so that your naturopath can review all your concerns, diet, lifestyle, and go through a review of body systems with you. This helps to assess for any factors that might interfere with the efficacy of any naturopathic treatment that is initiated. Once these factors are identified, your naturopath will help you identify steps to remove them. Some examples of obstacles to health include a stressful lifestyle; improper dietary habits such as skipping meals or eating on-the-go; inability to exercise; smoking. Removing any factors that are negatively affecting your health will only make naturopathic treatments work more effectively.
2. Stimulate the VIS
This is also one of six naturopathic principles and simply means to stimulate the body’s own healing potential. This is done through implementing a healthy diet individualized to you through identifying any potential food sensitivities, providing necessary nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathy, and acupuncture to ensure all the physiological process in our body can function optimally.
3. Strengthen Weakened Systems
Sometimes simply stimulating the body’s own healing potential is not enough, particularly if the disease state has progressed significantly. This is when supplements and other therapeutics are recommended in therapeutic doses to help revive weakened or diseased systems. This is a common stage at which people will seek out naturopathic doctors when they have already been diagnosed with a condition.
4. Correct Structural Integrity
Often, it helps to work on the outside of the body as well as the inside of the body by correcting any structural subluxations and weaknesses. Spinal adjustments can help improve nerve function which can help improve the function of other organs. Naturopaths are trained in spinal manipulation, massage, and physical medicine to help with improving any structural weaknesses. Your ND may also recommend you go see an osteopath or chiropractor to help with this.
I would like to point out that even though this is #4, it could also be addressed earlier on in the therapeutic order because correcting structural integrity can help with stimulating the body’s healing potential.
5. Use Natural Substances to Restore Health and Address Symptoms
Unfortunately, when some conditions have progressed too far making it hard to stimulate the body’s own healing potential or revive the weakened system back to health, natural therapies like acupuncture, homeopathy, and nutritional supplements are used to palliate and reduce the symptoms so that one can perform activities of daily living, go to work, and be able to function from day to day.
6. Use Pharmaceuticals to Suppress or Halt Pathology
While naturopathic medicine can address and treat many conditions, there are some conditions where pharmaceuticals are necessary to suppress or halt pathology. This is especially true when there isn’t effective or well-researched natural treatment options for the condition or when a condition has become very severe.
In Alberta, naturopathic doctors are currently not allowed to prescribe any pharmaceuticals and will recommend you see your medical doctor.
7. Use Invasive Modalities: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation
The goal is to avoid getting to this step in the therapeutic order but if #7 is needed, it is typically outside of the scope of a naturopathic doctor’s practice and requires the naturopath to recommend you go see your medical doctor.
When both the use of naturopathic treatments and pharmaceuticals cannot improve a person’s health, sadly the last resort involves more invasive treatment like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. This could be certain cardiac conditions, invasive cancers, or other conditions such as musculoskeletal ones that require surgery to manipulate joints or fix broken bones.