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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Naturopathic Medicine Week

The United States Senate declared October 6th through 12th to be Naturopathic Medicine Week as a way to recognize "the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care" and the role that naturopathic doctors play in "preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions."

Why do we need naturopathic doctors? 

In the words of the US senators who unanimously passed SR-420:

  • "Naturopathic physicians can help address the shortage of primary care providers in the United States."
  • "In the United States, more than 75 percent of health care costs are due to preventable chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, which affects 88 million people, and diabetes, which affects 26 million people."
  • "Nearly two-thirds of adults in the US are overweight or obese and consequently at risk for serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and depression."
  • "70 percent of people in the US experience symptoms of stress, and stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and diabetes." These chronic health conditions "are among the most common, costly, and preventable health conditions."
  • "Naturopathic medicine focuses on patient-centered care, the prevention of chronic illnesses, and early intervention in the treatment of chronic illnesses." 
  • "Naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care."

What's a naturopathic doctor?

Licensed naturopathic doctors are trained as primary ​care physicians and experts in holistic ​and integrative medicine. Patients consult ​with NDs for the ​prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all ​acute and chronic illnesses. Unlike other medical paradigms that focus on symptomatic treatment, naturopathic medicine addresses underlying causes of disease, treats each person as an individual, focuses on comprehensive treatment using the least invasive options, works to proactively prevent illness, and promotes wellness in body and mind.​​​

In the United States, licensed naturopathic doctors attend accredited four-year naturopathic medical schools with admission requirements and coursework comparable to those of conventional medical schools. NDs are educated in the same basic and clinical sciences common to all medical education, from biochemistry and pharmacology to cardiology and oncology. NDs also study natural therapies including botanical (plant-based) medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, hydrotherapy (the therapeutic use of hot and cold water), exercise therapy, psychology, counseling, and stress management. Some pursue additional studies to practice Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and/or natural childbirth.​

Naturopathic doctors work with patients in clinics and hospitals (the scope of practice varies by state) but they also act as experts on advisory boards. NDs serve on the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee. They're also researchers and members of the advisory board for the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

To learn more about naturopathic medicine and find a licensed naturopathic doctor near you, visit the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.​

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