article: no "magic" involved in naturopathic medicine

11.29.2009

article: no "magic" involved in naturopathic medicine

I came across this article which does a fairly good job of explaining the current state of Naturopathic Medicine in Canada...

Authors: Meghan Walker practises in Toronto. Tara Gignac practises in Collingwood. Both are board members of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

Progress often faces resistance. Even with the substantial challenges facing health care in Ontario, the province’s recent decision to award prescribing authority to naturopathic doctors has its critics, as evidenced by Scott Gavura’s op-ed piece in Nov. 24th’s National Post (“A Prescription for Quackery”).

Ontario’s decision is a step forward in improving patient care by allowing naturopathic doctors to use their training to help address the substantial health challenges facing Ontario.

While it would be easy to dismiss Mr. Gavura’s opinions as alarmist, there’s something to be learned from it: Many Canadians aren’t aware of how safe, scientific and effective naturopathic medicine is.

Naturopathic medicine is based on the scientific assertion that the body, when given the appropriate support, has the potential to heal itself. This isn’t a “magical and transcendent anomaly of physics.” It’s how the body works — and we’ve known it for centuries. Each time you heal from a cut, a cold or a broken bone, you’re seeing vis mediatrix naturae, or “the healing power of nature” at work. It’s not magic, just good science. And this naturopathic approach has been regulated in Ontario for 85 years.

Of course, healing a broken bone is not much help if you keep breaking it. As naturopathic doctors (NDs), our focus is on finding and treating the cause of a chronic problem, not just managing the symptoms. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2005, 89% of deaths and almost half of our health care dollars were attributed to chronic disease. Often, patients seek the care of NDs because they have run out of options using conventional therapies.

Some patients first come to NDs because they are looking for options to conventional medications or are interested in a more natural approach to health. Others want to be able to take better charge of their health and focus on prevention, or want help managing the side effects from medications or intensive medical therapies. As well, many patients have not had success with conventional options to address chronic or unresolved conditions.

Naturopathic doctors are likely to undertake additional diagnostic testing to understand what else might be going on, and take the time to talk to patients about lifestyle and environmental factors, all in the interest of identifying the potential underlying causes of a patient’s complaints. Most referrals to NDs come from other patients who have been helped, and from practitioners who understand for themselves how NDs practice.

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