Naturopathic healthcare is one of many paradigms of healing. I personally believe there is no one single healing paradigm for every person and every situation. It is hopeful to know that if one paradigm can't explain "what's wrong" that other paradigms may offer answers and effective approaches to healing.
The naturopathic paradigm originates from the beliefs that (1) nature (fresh air, clean food, light, hydrotherapy, exercise, rest) is healing, and (2) we each are endowed with a vital, healing force that works well when obstacles (i.e. excesses of the diet, lack of sleep, emotional stress) are removed. Think about the chronic illnesses that have become more prevalent in industrialized countries--type II diabetes, heart disease, allergies, gastric reflux, hormonal irregularities. These types of illnesses are often secondary to changes in our culture's diet, lifestyle and environment. These chronic illnesses that come from industrialized living often respond well to naturopathic care, because we seek to remove the underlying cause (or obstacle) that got in the way of optimal health.
The history of naturopathic care is intertwined with the European Water Cure movement which used hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is the use of water in healing. When I mention hydrotherapy, most people envision enemas, colonics, or maybe a hot tub. While it might include enemas and colonics in some naturopathic clinics, hydrotherapy includes a diverse array of water applications. Instead of the hot tubs of America, this tradition relied more heavily on cold water applications because it stimulates the body's blood flow. Healthy blood flow supports nutrients being delivered to the tissues and waste products being carried away, thus supporting the health of the body.
Over time, other healing modalities were practiced by naturopathic doctors. When I attended naturopathic medical school, I had the privilege to be exposed to many different paradigms in my training, which also included herbal/botanical medicines, homeopathy, classical Chinese medicine, physical medicine, environmental medicine, nutrition, massage, pharmacology, and mind-body medicine. Did you know the some naturopathic doctors of the past didn't believe in using herbs because they considered them them "drug therapy"? In the 1850s, much of the US Pharmacopeia consisted of herbal medicines as "drug therapy" and naturopaths of that time were considered "drugless doctors." Naturopathic healthcare has changed considerably over the years. Naturopathic doctors now days have several modalities to choose from, and because of this, care can vary widely between naturopathic clinics. One clinic may focus on specialty testing, supplements and nutritional IV therapy, while another clinic may offer mainly hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and herbal support.
Visits in my office often address the obstacles to healing and how those obstacles can be minimized or removed. When conventional tests don't explain why a person is not feeling well, then I may recommend specialty tests that look more at the physiology and optimal function of the body. The visit may evolve into discussions of safely integrating natural supplements, individualized selection of herbs and homeopathics, using the mind as a tool in health and healing, and home hydrotherapy techniques. I respect the fact that there are limits to what I can provide, and sometimes a referral to a professional of another paradigm is more appropriate.
I find it is an exciting time to be a naturopathic doctor. Evidence based medicine for natural therapies and research studies are expanding in our field. Our understanding of epigentics (how environment influences genetic expression) is growing. Members of different health professions are working together more often and we are learning from one another. Each day in my professional life is filled with learning in this ever expanding field and puzzling together the pieces of health and healing. I delight in it!
If you would like to explore a naturopathic approach with Dr. Katrina Bogdon, please visit her website at www.ourhealingroots.net to learn about the appointments she offers or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.