NDs and MDs are alike in many ways. Both attend a four-year medical school after completing pre-med classes and a bachelor’s degree. In Washington State, both NDs and MDs are required to pass rigorous professional board exams and to maintain a medical license that demands accountability and ongoing medical education. Both are recognized as Primary Care Physicians (PCP). In clinical practice, both NDs and MDs evaluate a patient using diagnostic interviews, physical exams and lab tests. Both then treat disease, decrease risk factors and prolong lives.
The primary difference lies in the focus of their training and their treatment approaches.
An MD’s training is focused more on treating illness by controlling the disease process with more aggressive pharmaceutical and surgical strategies. These treatments can be necessary and life saving. But from the Naturopathic perspective, many health conditions can be resolved and more aggressive treatments avoided by using more conservative natural therapies. As well, with a naturopathic approach, patients can often avoid the undesirable side effects commonly associated with conventional medical care.
An ND’s training is focused on treating and eventually preventing illness by strengthening and stimulating the body’s natural defense and repair systems. This allows your body to do what comes natural–heal itself. NDs draw from a variety of health disciplines when creating personalized treatment plans. Therapies may include diet therapy, nutritional supplementation, plant medicine (herbal and homeopathic) and physical therapy (especially hot/cold spa therapies).
At Our Practice
Here at the Holistic Health Clinic, we take an integrated approach to healthcare. Our patients receive the most advanced therapies for regaining and maintaining optimum health. However, should a patient’s condition require more specialized care, they are referred to other practitioners including MDs, chiropractors, acupuncturists, counselors, etc. Likewise, it is becoming more common for MDs to refer patients to NDs. Open-minded MDs are seeing the effectiveness of our naturopathic care as a complement to their work, including strategies that decrease side effects, improve the effectiveness of conventional treatments, and help speed up your recovery.
Education & Certifications of an ND
A Licensed Naturopathic Physician (ND) attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school after completing a standard pre-med program and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree. The curriculum includes the same basic sciences found in a conventional medical school*, yet with additional studies in holistic and nontoxic natural therapies. A strong emphasis is placed on optimal wellness as well as disease prevention. The naturopathic physician is also required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, physical medicine, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, acupuncture, psychology and counseling.
To be licensed as a primary-care physician, graduates are required to pass rigorous professional board exams. All naturopathic physicians at the Holistic Health Clinic have passed these exams and are licensed in the state of Washington.
*Graduates of accredited naturopathic medical colleges are required to have more hours of study in basic sciences and clinical sciences than graduates of Yale or Stanford medical schools. They also receive more formal training in therapeutic nutrition than MDs, osteopathic physicians and registered dietitians. And unlike MDs, Naturopaths draw from a wide variety of health disciplines including: European spa therapy, traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, and Ayurvedic medicine to name a few.
How your health problems are treated is another major difference between Naturopathic and Conventional approaches. The naturopathic approach is to look at all the possible causes for your temporary or recurring health condition starting with your physical, mental and emotional status and your genetic and personal health history–including your diet and exercise habits, your home and work environments, and how much stress you’re under.
We start with a thorough evaluation, which can include: medical history, physical exam, standard labs, and specialized labs.
Using the information we gain from this evaluation, a treatment plan is developed specifically and uniquely for you. We often begin with natural and pharmaceutical medicines that provide rapid symptom relief. Then, relying on science-based natural therapies, we work with you to cleanse your body of toxins and strengthen your immune and recovery functions, so your body is able to heal itself–something it does very well when it is working properly.
Along with wanting a natural approach that supports the body’s ability to heal itself, many of the people that turn to naturopathic medicine are looking for ways to play an active roll in their own health. The more you are able to take charge of your health with the help and guidance of a qualified ND, the better you’ll feel all around and the more likely you’ll be able to break the never-ending cycle of treating symptoms and recurring disease. That’s the real beauty of taking back control and living a pro-active healthy lifestyle.
A Sampling of Our Naturopathic Treatments
- Nutrition – whole foods education and individualized diet plans including allergy-free diets and weight-loss programs
- Nutritional and Metabolic (your body’s chemical interactions) Therapies – oral and injectable nutrient supplementation, including adjunctive cancer treatment
- Herbal/homeopathic medicines and gland extracts
- Natural (Bio-identical) Hormone Replacement Therapies
- Metabolic Cleansing Plans – cleansing diets and supportive natural medicines, liver and bowel cleansing, modified fasting, environmental medicine (identifying and removing the toxic chemicals that cause illness)
- Pharmaceutical medications
- Physiotherapy / Muscle and Joint Rehab – strain and sprain restoration with physical therapy, exercise instruction, posture analysis/correction and custom arch supports
- Hydrotherapy / Lung Therapy – heat therapies to help resolve chronic/debilitating illness as well as acute illness, like pneumonia
- Cervical Dysplasia (abnormal Pap) Therapy – a non-surgical approach
- Health and lifestyle counseling – strategies that help you to identify and change behaviors that are roadblocks to health recovery and a healthy life
- Environmental strategies – water and air filtration products
The relationship between you and the doctor is a difference most patients really appreciate. Walking into our office is very much like visiting a conventional doctor’s office. It’s when you start your visit that you will start to notice the difference.
One of the keys to success in Naturopathic Medicine is the collaboration between you and your doctor. This is essential to any naturopathic practice, but here at Holistic Health Clinic, we place an extra emphasis on this vital relationship. You can count on our doctors to take the time needed to listen, answer questions and educate you on the source of your health problems, the purpose of the health plan they have prescribed for you, and what you can do to make it successful.
The doctor starts this process by working closely with you and using the results of your evaluation to determine your unique body type and health issues. This step helps both you and the doctor. It helps the doctor to develop a restorative and preventative natural medicine, nutrition and lifestyle plan suited to your needs. It also helps you to understand your own body and why it’s not experiencing optimum health. Understanding your unique body make-up is the basis for a sound diagnosis and greatly improves the effectiveness of your healthcare.
Getting to Know You
An equally important step in building this doctor/patient relationship is getting to know who you are including: what you do each day, how you take care of yourself, and how you motivate/animate yourself to get things done. By knowing as much as possible about you, the doctor gains a better understanding of the physical, mental and emotional stresses that impact your health. This knowledge is the foundation for a natural therapeutic and preventative approach to your healthcare.
By understanding what impacts your health, the doctor can help you to make the nutritional and lifestyle choices that are the key to getting you healthy and keeping you that way. Likewise, the more you know about our approach and the way your body works, the better chance you have of successfully taking control of your own health and creating a healthier future. Which is exactly why we take our relationship and communication with you so seriously. Our goal is to guide you through the process of understanding your own nutritional and physical needs so that you can stay as close as possible to the experience of feeling great from the time you wake up till you go to bed each and every day.
Schedule an appointment!
Give us a call at (253) 752-2558