Key advantages to naturopathic medicine
By Dr. Martin Gleixner, MSc, ND
As incoming President of the Naturopathic Association of New Brunswick (NBAND), I would like to take this timely opportunity to highlight the advantages of naturopathic medicine. The word is already out; NBAND’s team of naturopathic doctors is providing professional and effective health care in New Brunswick. Patient’s who are being treated by naturopathic doctors already know that their care has been brought to an entirely new level.
Both naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine have their strengths. The debate is no longer whether it’s one or the other, but rather moving forward with the integration of both. Patient care can only benefit from combining the strengths of each form of medicine.
Our present health care system is experiencing difficulties.
Every province in Canada, including New Brunswick, is faced with spiraling health-care costs. New technologies are becoming more expensive, baby-boomer retirements create increased health care needs, and rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune disease and cancer are on the rise. The reasons for higher health-care costs appear endless.
Many citizens in the Greater Moncton Area are without a family physician (MD). An orphan list has been created with a present wait time of between two to three years.
For many patients with serious chronic disease, referral to specialists is paramount. However, long wait times, anywhere from months to years, force patients to remain untreated while their disease progresses.
Citizens lacking MDs are using emergency rooms to address their non-emergency health concerns, further clogging the outpatients' area at our local hospitals.
We rely on the government and advances in scientific research to help us understand and overcome these challenges. Progress is slow but necessary. To help guide doctors and government reforms and innovative changes in health care, we can start now by recognizing and utilizing the strengths of different forms of medicines.
In four previous columns, I wrote about improving health care in New Brunswick as well as for all Canadians. I proposed an integrated approach that includes: 1) family physicians (MDs) and licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) working side-by-side; 2) the adoption of six guiding principles for all doctors and health professionals; 3) a new health paradigm that aims to determine and address the true cause of one’s medical concerns; and 4) an overview of integrating naturopathic medicine into health care.
With permission from the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), the following excerpt provides an excellent summary of the top 8 advantages of naturopathic medicine:
The focus of naturopathic medicine is health promotion and the understanding that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. By identifying and removing obstacles to cure, the body is able to heal and move toward optimal health. The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body's own healing abilities.
Disease prevention and preventing the progression of disease are principles inherent to naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic doctors work with patients to identify the root causes of disease and to address all the factors that are affecting a patient's health.
For a more in-depth explanation of this topic, please visit www.monctonnaturopathic.com for Dr. Gleixner's previous column entitled "Address underlying problems, not just symptoms".
Conditions and illnesses treated
Naturopathic doctors are primary care practitioners. They are trained to treat all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people: 1) patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion, 2) patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis and 3) patients with chronic and severe illnesses.
Naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Each patient has a unique story, history, genetics, dietary habits, lifestyle and associated health concerns. A naturopathic doctor will work to determine the underlying cause(s) and create an individualized treatment plan to stimulate a person's innate healing ability. Patients are also involved in their health program and learn to make effective, educated, self-care decisions that can prevent future health problems.
Working with conventional medicine
Naturopathic doctors can and do work with conventional medical doctors. NDs are trained to refer patients to other health care practitioners, where appropriate. Most naturopathic doctors cross-refer extensively to other health care practitioners.
Safe and effective treatment
The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body's own healing abilities. Therefore, naturopathic doctors must focus their efforts on understanding the unique needs of each patient. Naturopathic doctors assist the body's healing powers by using safe, effective approaches with patients.
As a result naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Patients are involved in their treatment programs and learn to make effective, educated self-care decisions, which can prevent future health problems.
Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine (as known as herbal medicine), pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality.
Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes and assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing naturopathic doctors. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic doctors.
Naturopathic medicine can contribute to resolving the costly epidemic of chronic disease. The cost-effectiveness of naturopathic medicine is currently being researched in Canada. Research conducted in the United States on the cost-effectiveness of naturopathic medicine has demonstrated the significant savings to be realized by individuals, insurance companies and the health care system in general.
Many naturopathic therapies developed out of a rich history of use and have been validated by scientific research. For example, many herbs have been used effectively for centuries by various indigenous cultures. Much current research supports the direct link between many health conditions and diet and stress. The research supporting naturopathic medicine continues to grow and incorporate new scientific findings.
I hope this discussion about the advantages of naturopathic medicine has created a paradigm shift in the way that you view medicine. Your health is top priority and therefore requires the best care from the integration of both conventional and naturopathic medicine.
If you should have any questions related to naturopathic medicine, I would be pleased as President of the Naturopathic Association of New Brunswick (NBAND) to provide this service.
Published by Dr. Gleixner on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 in Times & Transcript.
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