Naturopathic Medicine Week

Hey everyone and Happy October! I took a day off yesterday to recover from my birthday weekend celebration, but I am back today like a bad habit. Thank you all for the sweet birthday messages! ❤

In honor of my future profession and medicine in general I wanted to post about Naturopathic Medicine today since it is Naturopathic Medicine week! I mean I celebrated National Coffee Day so it only seems fair!


What is Naturopathic Medicine?

The AANMC (Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges) defines Naturopathic Medicine as a “primary care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.” It is holistic medicine, meaning it encompasses the whole being and is centered around the patient and helping them to obtain optimum health! Sounds pretty good to me!

What is the Naturopathic Physician’s role in health care?

Naturopathic physicians (NDs or NMDs) are trained as primary care providers and can diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions. They care for all ages and genders of patients. Specific regulations and licensure laws vary from state to state. While there are NDs and NMDs practicing in all 50 US states, the licensure laws vary.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine currently, while the states in brown are where laws are pending.

How is this different from the primary care provider (PCP) I have now?

Primary care or family practice doctors come in all shapes and sizes. You might not even realize that your family practice physician has different letters behind his/her name. Here are some common acronyms for PCPs:

  • MD – doctor of medicine (allopathic physician)
  • DO – doctor of osteopathic medicine (osteopathic physician)
  • ND or NMD – doctor of naturopathic medicine (naturopathic physician)
  • NP – nurse practitioner (RN nurse with masters or doctorate degree)
  • PA – physician’s assistant (masters degree)

While this is “The Doctor”, this is not included in our list of primary care providers. I still wish I had my own tardis though. #nerdjokes

The ND practices as any other PCP (at least in the state of Oregon), but they attempt to address disease and dysfunction at the level of the body, mind, and spirit therefore treating the WHOLE person and attempting to find the underlying cause of a patient’s condition. An ND focuses on whole patient wellness through health promotion and disease prevention (i.e. preventive health)!

Essentially, an ND can diagnose and treat a patient using the standards of care applied by all PCPs. The goal of treatment for a Naturopathic Physician and most PCPs is to provide individualized evidence-informed therapies that balance the least harmful and most effective approaches to help restore the patient to health. The main difference in care is the additional treatment modalities that can be applied by an ND and the ultimate goal of treatment, which is not just to restore the patient to baseline health, but rather help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore health and achieve optimal health.

Naturopathic Medicine Principles!

NDs have 6 principles that they base their overall approach to patient care. I am not going to spend a lot of time on these today, because I have been and will continue to feature one principle per month. Here they are below to remind you!

  1. First Do No Harm (utilize the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies)
  2. The Health Power of Nature (trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself)
  3. Identify & Treat the Cause(s) (look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause)
  4. Doctor as Teacher (educate patients in the steps to achieving & maintaining health)
  5. Treat the Whole Person (view the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions)
  6. Prevention (focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention)

I have heard that Naturopathic Physicians practice homeopathy and I do not know if I believe/understand that. Is it true?

While it is true that some Naturopathic Physicians practice the treatment modality of Homeopathy, not all Naturopathic doctors are homeopaths! There is a DISTINCTION that I do not think people make often. An ND or NMD is a doctorate level degree program that produces licensed physicians. A homeopath or practitioner of homeopathy is NOT an ND or NMD. Do some Naturopathic doctors practice homeopathy in their practice… YES, absolutely, but not all do!

Some peoples views on Naturopathic Medicine... I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

Some people’s views on Naturopathic Medicine… I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

I myself have not decided if I am going to practice homeopathy in my practice based on a number of factors. On of the greatest things about naturopathic medicine is that Naturopathic Doctors have a whole arsenal of tools and treatment options to use for their patient’s including some of the following…

  • Nutrition
  • Vitamins & minerals
  • Botanical & herbal medicine
  • Physical medicine (i.e. chiropractic adjustments, massage, etc.)
  • Homeopathy
  • Hydrotherapy (i.e. physical therapy utilizing water)
  • Hygiene therapy (i.e. stress reduction, sleep help, etc.)
  • Physical and clinical diagnosis
  • Laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging
  • Emergency medicine
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Minor surgery
  • Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (depending on the physician and their training background)


Naturopathic doctors choose which therapies to apply to a patient’s condition based on the Therapeutic Order. A hierarchy of treatment that Naturopathic doctors use to make sure we are applying the least invasive treatments first, followed by increasingly more invasive treatments last!


As NDs or NMDs, we start at the bottom of the therapeutic order and work our way up to the top! We aim to provide comprehensive, healing care to our patient’s with the least disruption to their own body’s healing process! Pretty cool right!

Want to learn more?

Check out some of these websites to learn more about Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Physicians, and preventive health in general!

Or you can ask me!!!! I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you have about Naturopathic medicine or preventive medicine as a profession however silly they may seem! If I do not know the answer, I will find someone who does. 🙂

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass...

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass…

Stay tuned later on this week for a NEW core challenge, menu decoder of the month, and D.I.Y. using our Calendula oil from September!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. 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. Please consult with your primary health provider before starting a new exercise regimen. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Back To School – The Stress Free Guide

The beginning of September unfortunately marks the end of summer and the start of another school year. To help combat the end of summer time blues, use the start of school as your chance to organize your life and yourself. I don’t just mean cleaning out your car or organizing your desk; I am talking about organizing your body, mind, and spirit. Below I have laid out a plan to a stress free (or at least more stress free) start to the new school year.

Organize your body…

Now that phrase sounds awkward, but here is what I mean. Let’s make your body the healthiest and happiest it can be so that you can maximize your energy and focus it on accomplishing other things. We can accomplish this by doing 3 things:

  1. Start a workout/exercise/fitness routine

You do not need to become a gym rat, but add some physical activity to your life (or become more consistent about it if you already do workout). Last Wednesday I posed a 15-minute workout that can be done just about anywhere, if you currently are not doing any physical activity that is a good place to start. This Wednesday I will post a core challenge; try to add that to your workout routine just 3 times a week.

How much physical activity per week? (for adults)

2 hours & 30 minutes ~ moderate aerobic activity per week (i.e. brisk walking, cycling, etc.)


1 hour & 15 minutes ~ vigorous aerobic activity per week (i.e. running, basketball, swimming laps, etc.)


2 x per week ~ muscle strengthening activities (i.e. weight lifting, yoga, etc.)

Don’t feel bad if you do not meet these exercise goals, most Americans do not! Click here to see some stats, they are not pretty, so let’s change that!

2. Improve your diet

The change of seasons from summer to fall can be a great time to overhaul your diet especially in preparation for all of the holiday goodness to come in the next couple of months. If you are interested in doing a bigger diet change consider a “Sugar Cleanse” or trying a “Paleo” or “Gluten Free” lifestyle.

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Um hello, I am not crazy and I like my bread…

If you are not feeling extreme, but still want to improve, start with increasing your intake of fruits and especially vegetables. The goal should be 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies per day!

Last Friday I posted What’s Fresh for the month of September. Here is my challenge to all of you!

During the month of September, try to eat all of the foods on the What’s Fresh list at least 1 time this month. By doing this, you will get 56 servings of fruits & veggies. 

Post your fruit and veggie filled meal pictures to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #thisispreventivehealth

#thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

Stay tuned, this Foodie Friday will have fresh Mason Jar salad ideas to make your meal planning easier while getting your daily 5! #thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

  1. Try Ecotherapy (aka get your butt outside)

Even though the weather will not stay sunny and hot forever, especially in the NW, fall is a beautiful time to get outside and explore nature. Increase your time outside to daily or as much as possible! A new study by the University of Essex displayed reduction in stress and depression in participants who spent more time outdoors. Also, more research has been done that gives evidence that nature not only decreases stress and improves wellness, but can also combat heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more!

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Organize your mind…

It is extremely hard to be at your physical best when your mind is not in the right place. It is also difficult to plan a workout routine or nature time without knowing what your own schedule is. Some of the largest hurdles to beginning a new wellness/fitness routine are ‘lack of time’, but most people do not have a lack of time, they just do not know where they are spending it.

Map your time this September using my “Weekly Hour Tracker”!
Click here for PDF form.

Organize your spirit…

Now that you have organized your mind and made a concrete plan to organize your body, the last piece to that puzzle is organizing your spirit or emotional well-being by creating a routine that helps you to relax and wind-down at the end of the day.

Sleeping the correct amount of hours a night is vital to your health, but it can be difficult getting that necessary sleep when you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep per night based on age group.

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group!

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group! Remember that sleep times change based on the person.

I suggest starting a nightly routine, like 10-15 minutes, where your sole focus is relaxing, reflecting, and preparing to rest. This routine should be personalized to you and what you need to wind down after a long day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Start by doing some light yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
    • This will slow down your heart rate and focus your mind on something other than the tasks you need accomplish tomorrow
  • Follow this up by getting into bed and reading a book or journaling.
    • This does not mean reading a memo from work, constructing a speech, or studying for school. I am talking about reading a book for fun (remember when you used to do that) or something to help you reflect on your day.

HELPFUL TIP! Stay away from the electronics at least 30 min prior to sleep time (even electronic readers)!

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Regardless of whether September marks a change in your life or schedule, all of us can use a little more organization in our lives. If you take control and organize your body, mind, and spirit it will make the transition from summer to fall easier overall and it will improve your health and quality of life! Who knew!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. 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.

This is Preventive Health

What is preventive health or preventive medicine? The word prevention is thrown around today in all sorts of conversations with what seems like an infinite amount of definitions. Ultimately, what does it look like?

Medline Plus, describes preventive health as a set of screening exams including:

  • Disease screenings like high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Future disease risks like high cholesterol or obesity
  • Alcohol use and resources on how to quit smoking
  • Healthy lifestyle including healthy eating and exercise
  • Vaccination updates
  • Maintaining a relationship with a healthcare provider

Apple Stethoscope

They also mention the following lab tests:

  • Blood pressure, blood sugar,
    blood cholesterol
  • Colon cancer screening and genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer
  • Mammogram and pap smear
  • Osteoporosis screening
  • Depression screening
  • HIV and other STI tests

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), describes preventive health through the lens of the Healthy People 2020 objectives, which include pretty much everything:

Access to health services Immunization, Infectious disease
Age focused health (i.e. healthy aging) Injury & violence prevention
Blood disorders & safety LGBTQ health
Disability and health Mental health & disorders
Education & community-based programs Nutrition, weight status, physical activity
Environmental health Occupational safety
Family planning: maternal, infant, child, adolescent health Oral health, Sleep health, Vision
Safety: food & medical products
Genomics Public health & preparedness
Global health Social determinants of health
Health communication & technology Substance & Tobacco abuse
Hearing, sensory, communication disorders Wellness & quality of life

As well as a multitude of diseases & disorders…

Arthritis Osteoporosis Chronic back conditions
Cancer Chronic kidney disease Dementias
Diabetes HIV Heart disease
Stroke Respiratory disease STIs

Phew! Are you tired of reading yet? Lastly, the American Association for Naturopathic Physicians describes their stance on prevention like this:

“Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process… Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.”

All of these things are preventive health... including many more

All of these things are preventive health

Preventive vs. Preventative?

I am in no ways a word smith or grammar pro, but here is difference between the two… there is NONE! Both preventive and preventative mean exactly the same thing and share all definitions.

Preventive: designed to keep something undesirable such as illness, harm, or accidents from occurring

If you want to be exact, preventive is the ‘original’ adjective and preventative is the variant, but who is counting! I choose to use the sleeker and simpler preventive, but it is personal choice.

In Summary…

There is no right or wrong way to describe preventive health. It encompasses many parts of health care, but it is not just up to the physicians and health care professionals. The best part about preventive health is that you, the patient, have more control than ever about how healthy you are and about how healthy you can become! Most of us are already doing things in our lives that are considered preventive medicine and are taking steps towards becoming the best, healthiest version of ourselves. We all can achieve optimum health and it does not need to be accomplished through huge life changes, but rather small baby steps. Let’s start building the best, healthiest, and happiest version of you today!

Every week I will post 3 tips and tricks to improve your health and well-being. You can use some or all of the tips depending on how they fit in your life. The tips will be in the following categories: Motivational MondayWorkout Wednesday, and Foodie Friday. I also will post weekly on Sunday about a health/wellness/fitness topic that is close to my heart. If you have any health questions or topic areas you would like me to focus on feel free to send me an email and I will try to highlight them for you.

Blogs not your thing? Follow me on Twitter to get the weekly tips in the media format that fits best in your life!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. 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.