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History of Naturopathic Medicine

Licensed in the state of California since January 2004, Naturopathic Doctors (ND's) are licensed Primary Care Doctors who are medically trained in conventional as well as alternative medicines.

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 (visit http://www.naturopathic.org/ for more information).

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 naturopathic practitioners focus on the individual rather than treating based on the generality of symptoms.

Naturopathic doctors work to discover the underlying cause of pathology and then use natural therapies to promote the body’s innate natural healing process. ND's may utilize a variety of modalities including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical manipulation, counseling, and hydrotherapy among others. These approaches have proven successful in safely treating a wide variety of both acute and chronic conditions.  Because Naturopathic Medicine works to stimulate the body's own healing system, there is no dis-ease that cannot benefit from this medicine.

Naturopathic medicine is defined by six philosophical principles:

Although Naturopathic doctors utilize natural treatment approaches to promote health, what truly defines this medicine are its treatment principles.

First Do No Harm – Primum non nocere: Safe and effective therapies are utilized to promote health.

The Healing Power of Nature - Vis medicatrix naturae: The body has an inherent ability to restore health through nature’s healing properties.

Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect -Tolle causam: Naturopathic physicians seek to discover and address the underlying cause of a disease.

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.  Naturopathic medicine recognizes the inherent connection between mind and body.

The Physician is a Teacher – Docere: Doctor means Teacher in Sanskrit.  Naturopathic Doctors partner with their patients to educate and empower them so that they can learn to take responsibility for their own health.

Prevention is the Best Cure: In addition to treating acute and chronic illnesses, a Naturopathic Doctor will assess your individual risk factors for disease and work to appropriately prevent disease before it begins, as opposed to waiting until you are in a diseased state.   In other words, we take a proactive approach to health care.

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, in addition to pharmacology.

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 national clinical examinations (NPLEX) after completing their 4 years 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.

Is "Naturopathic Medicine" the same as "Naturopathy"?

No.  In the state of California, anyone can call themselves a "Naturopath" or say that they practice "Naturopathy".  Only a graduate from an accredited medical institution can legally call themselves a "Naturopathic Doctor".

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.

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 phyto-medicines, which are scientifically researched and formulated.  Dr. Fleck formulates specific botanical combinations for the specific needs of her patients.

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 effectively help conditions that have not responded well to other therapies.  See the page on Homeopathy for a more extensive overview.

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.

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.