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.
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.
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. 🙂