The first and most obvious difference between naturopathic physicians and classically-trained western doctors is that western doctors are primarily experts in disease, whereas naturopathic physicians are experts in health and wellness. So if you want to go to someone who knows everything that there is to know about disease and disease symptoms, itís an excellent idea to go visit a conventionally-trained physician. However, if you are interested in knowing how to be healthy and you want to be given a plan that will assist you in your own efforts to become healthy, you need to visit someone who understands the causes of health. Western doctors understand the causes of disease; naturopathic doctors understand the causes of health.
Another important reason to visit naturopathic physicians is because at the office of your N.D., you will be presented with a far wider range of options when it comes to correcting dysfunctions or overcoming diseases or disorders. A western doctor is typically quite limited both in the amount of time she can spend with you and the advice she might offer you. Western medicine is typically limited to prescribing pharmaceuticals, recommending surgical procedures or handing out timid lifestyle advice such as ďeat three balances meals a dayĒ -- advice that's virtually meaningless advice in the world of nutrition.
In contrast, a naturopathic physician will have at his or her disposal a wide variety of treatments and modalities that can help your condition. They might recommend homeopathic remedies, cranial-sacral work, body work, massage therapy, acupuncture, medicinal herbs, nutritional therapy, exercise programs, body strengthening through yoga or Pilates, flexibility training, or even elements from the world of vibrational medicine. So the naturopathic physician has a much larger toolbox, so to speak, from which to choose appropriate therapies and modalities that can offer you the greatest help. For that reason alone, visiting a naturopathic physician is well worth the effort it takes to find one.
But thereís another extremely important reason to visit a naturopathic physician instead of an M.D.: Naturopathic physicians have a very different paradigm when it comes to the doctor-patient relationship and the fundamental causes of healing. In naturopathy, it is widely recognized that the patient is the healer, not the physician. Naturopathy has respect for the human body and its innate healing abilities. It seeks to assist the natural healing wisdom of the human body through natural approaches that never attempt to overtake or compromise the bodyís own healing systems.
Western medicine, on the other hand, has a very different mindset. Western medicine believes that the patient is not in charge; rather, it is the doctor who in control of any healing that takes place. Western medicine attempts to take over the chemistry of the body and override the bodyís natural balance. For example, the use of chemotherapy attempts to override and even destroy the bodyís immune system as an acceptable side effect of attacking cancerous tumors throughout the body. Likewise, prescription drugs such as antidepressants attempt to interfere with and override normal healthy brain chemistry in an effort to create a desired outcome.
These are the paradigms of western medicine. They are, as you can quite readily tell, rather egoistic and arrogant. They believe that man is smarter than nature and that if we can override nature, we can somehow arrive at a greater state of health. But this is now widely recognized as being false. The true pathway to health is not achieved by overriding the bodyís natural healing systems or trying to take control of the body. Helping a patient get healthy requires respecting the bodyís innate healing ability and strengthening the bodyís immune system. It requires respecting the patient as an individual with a body, a mind and a unique spirit. It also requires looking at the big picture of the patient: what else is happening in their life? Are there emotional or energetic influences that may be affecting their physical and biochemical health? Are there postural patterns that would indicate underlying disorders?
Naturopathic physicians will also spend a great deal of time with patients exploring their current lifestyle and diet. They may even ask about your relationships, your life history or any stresses that are currently impacting your life. Western doctors, in contrast, donít usually ask these questions. Theyíre not really interested in what youíve eaten because most of them donít believe that food has any measurable impact on health -- a thought that is so rigid and outmoded that it can only be described as prehistoric.
Western doctors believe in the locality of disease. If your back hurts, they believe there is something physically or structurally wrong with your back. If your sinuses are congested, they think thereís something wrong with your sinuses. But a naturopathic physician believes in a holistic approach -- that all disease and all health is systemic. Back pain may be due to chronic dehydration. Sinus congestion may be due to dietary influences, such as the frequent consumption of cowís milk or dairy products. Any pattern of symptoms or disease may have a number of influencing factors that are not necessarily local. And only a naturopathic physician can put together the pieces of the puzzle and arrive at a big-picture solution that can help you get well.
These are some of the many reasons why I strongly recommend ditching your M.D. and seeking out an N.D. You will receive far better care. You will get far more time with your physician. And, if youíre like most patients, you will get healthier faster and with greater knowledge of the underlying causes of health than if you were to visit a western medical doctor.
Even though there are a few medical doctors (typically the younger ones) who are educating themselves about alternative and complementary therapies, the vast majority of older M.D.s continues to live in the dark ages of medicine. They are unwilling and apparently unable to learn anything new about the underlying causes of health and wellness. And should you put yourself under their care, you are short-changing yourself in a way that could be potentially very damaging to your health. Remember, the 100,000+ Americans who are killed each year by prescription drugs are actually prescribed those drugs by M.D.s.