Naturopathic Medicine Week -Treat the Whole person

In honor of Naturopathic Medicine Week, I am trying to post a little bit every day about Naturopathic Medicine… what we do, how we do it, and who we are!

Today during shift, I was reminded how important it is for us as doctors to look at the whole patient and treat the whole person not just their symptom or their disease. I mean hello people, a person is not just a cough or fatigue, there is more to that story. In fact, treating the whole person is one of six Naturopathic Medicine Principles.

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6 Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

How does this look one might ask?

Let’s say a person has stomach pain. There are billion things that stomach pain could be ranging from really acute, scary things to other things that are much more benign. All medical doctors (in theory) should be able to ascertain the type of pain and obtain a history about the symptom, do a physical exam, and ideally diagnose the patient with the disease or condition. But sometimes, often times more than we would like to admit, the pain is just pain and we do not have a great medical explanation behind it.

Now many doctors (including Naturopathic doctors) would just treat the symptom so the person has relief and hope that it resolves on its own. BUT!!! and this is a big but here folks… that does not treat the underlying problem. A Naturopathic doctor is charged with the goal to not only fix symptoms and figure out the condition, but to try to help correct the underlying reason that the person had the symptom or condition in the first place. This often means stepping away from the focus on a symptom and looking at the whole person…

  • What do they eat?
  • How do they sleep?
  • What are their stressors? How do they deal with them?
  • Do they have other symptoms?
  • What is their lifestyle and environment like?

The Naturopathic Physician is allowed the time to look at these underlying lifestyle issues that often cannot be addressed during a quick visit. This allows us to help the person heal themselves and hopefully avoid having to continue treating the symptom over time.

Homework Assignment!!

I am ‘assigning’ homework for anyone who is interested in supporting Naturopathic medicine, learning more about it, or wanting to do something Preventive for your health…

Take a picture of yourself with something that you would consider preventive health. This could be eating an apple, going on a walk, taking a nap, laughing with friends, getting a check up at the doctors, drinking tea, or more… take that picture and post it to your blog or social media with the caption “Naturopathic Medicine Week” or hashtag “#naturopathicmedicineweek”. If you do not participate in social media, but want to participate comment in the comments below your Preventive Health picture. 🙂

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#nmwNUNM2016 #naturopathicmedicineweek Drinking water after a long day

Naturopathic Medicine Week – Establish the Foundation of Health

Hey everyone, it is Naturopathic Medicine week from October 10-16th!

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One of the amazing things about being a Naturopathic Physician is the wide array of modalities (treatment options) that we have to choose from to help our patients become the healthiest versions of themselves. Today I have been spending most of my day on one of our most basic, but arguably the MOST important treatment modalities, NUTRITION!!!

Nutrition would fall under the therapeutic treatment order category of ‘establish the foundation of health’, which essentially means to help the patient build his/her health foundation without any additional supplements, herbs, medications, etc. This category also includes items like sleep hygiene, basic hygiene, exercise, stress reduction techniques, and more.

To learn more about the Therapeutic Order and Naturopathic medicine, check out the AANMC (Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges) website.

One nutritional assessment I like to have people do, is a self reflection on their feelings surrounding health, nutrition, and food. Often times we have underlying feelings about food/nutrition/health/body image that prevent us from obtaining our ultimate food/fitness/health/weight goals. Some example questions I have people fill out are listed below.

  • What is your food philosophy?
  • What routines do you have for food and eating?
  • What dietary goals or changes do you wish to make in your life?

After that, I then recommend people complete a diet diary (track everything they consume for 3 days to 1 week). I then use this date to do a comprehensive dietary analysis on the person and help them see where they are meeting their dietary goals and where they are missing the bar. Having this data is helpful before going into a large dietary change and people are able to track their own dietary changes overtime, seeing their nutritional improvement with their own eyes.

If you are interested in working on your diet or other foundations of your health, then find a local Naturopathic Physician in your area and schedule an appointment! You can also track your own diet at home using one of my free online diet tracking tools such as: Cronometer, My Fitness Pal, or any others you may find.

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 4th year naturopathic medical student at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio or my LinkedIn. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Naturopathic Medicine Week

Celebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week by sharing your knowledge or experience with Naturopathic Medicine. If you do not know what Naturopathic Medicine is then ask! Ask a local licensed Naturopathic Doctor (they will have the letters ND or NMD behind their name), check out the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website, or ask me! 


More to come this week about the profession, who we are, what we do, and how you can access healthcare services!