What Does A Naturopathic Doctor Do?
When scientific medical approaches are merged with natural and traditional methods of treating disease, the practice is called naturopathy. Practitioners who specialize in naturopathy are called naturopathic doctors. They are primary health care providers who are able to practice the profession after obtaining a medical doctor degree and then devoting more years of study to specialize in naturopathy. Others also become naturopathic physicians by obtaining a four-year Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree and then taking postgraduate studies for an additional two years in specialty fields like acupuncture or chelation therapy.
Naturopathic doctors treat illnesses by combining conventional medical practice with knowledge of alternative therapies. They aim to treat the cause of the sickness while at the same time encouraging the body to heal itself. They believe that the body has the inherent power to restore itself and maintain an excellent state of health for as long as all the ideal factors are in place. They help the body recover and stay healthy by facilitating an internal and external environment that is conducive to the promotion of optimal health.
Complementary medicine practitioners use a holistic approach in treating the sickness. Even if they do prescribe medicines for certain conditions, they also prefer to cure patients using natural methods and remedies. These naturalistic approaches include homeopathy, oriental medicines like acupuncture, massage therapy, diet changes to include more nutritious foods and regular exercise.
Naturopathic physicians impress on patients that they have to be responsible for their own health and well-being. They don’t just look at one particular organ but diagnose the entire person. They look at how the physiological, psychological, environmental, social and spiritual areas have contributed to the development of a particular condition. For instance, they look at how chemicals and other environmental impurities, stress and inadequate nutrition could have played a role in a patient’s sickness. They also examine whether a person’s sleeping habits and other lifestyle factors could have led to or worsened his condition.
Patients often go to naturopathic physicians to treat chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, allergies cardiac disease, digestive problems, obesity, hormonal problems, fibromyalgia, menopause, respiratory ailments, adrenal fatigue and cancer. They don’t normally put people under the knife but they may close superficial wounds and take out cysts. Naturopathic doctors often emphasize to patients the importance of preventing disease and encouraging them to observe lifestyles that promote health and wellness.
Naturopathic doctors thoroughly get patients’ medical histories on their first visit. They ask about the foods they eat, whether they drink or smoke, what their stress levels are, the reason for their visit and what their health goals are. They will examine the patient and if necessary to comprehensively understand the condition, run some diagnostic tests.
The initial visit can take anywhere from one to two hours which is quite longer than succeeding visits which only last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. In case naturopathic doctors feel that a patient will be better cared for by another medical specialist, they would refer the patients to the appropriate doctors. Just like other doctors, they carefully record their patients’ health issues and track their progress.
Naturopathic physicians also keep themselves updated on the latest research in the field of conventional and alternative medicine. Some naturopathic doctors also do other work in addition to seeing and treating patients.
For example, they can work as consultants for various healthcare companies or teach students aspiring to become naturopathic physicians in universities or colleges. Naturopathic doctors who run their own practice also have to take care of some administrative tasks, such as marketing and advertising their business to get more patients.
They also take care of or supervise the accounting, holding an inventory and ordering supplies needed for the practice. It is also part of their work to hire and train new employees that will assist them in performing day-to-day tasks.