Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Modern Medicine: A Guide to the Future of Medicine (Part 2)

We are now at a crossroads of tradition and convention. An overwhelming majority of people have used natural remedies, and recommended by whom? Magazine articles, their neighbor, or other helpful but unqualified health practitioners. The public demands and deserves true experts in health and disease to co-ordinate care and design treatment plans according to nationally accepted standards. The problem is conventional, allopathic practitioners are untrained in natural modalities and most are unaware of the Nutraceutical world which encompasses professional, pharmaceutical grade (or higher quality) nutritional and botanical medicines among others.

Most Naturopathic Doctors decidedly prescribe therapies in the order of least to most invasive. The first non-invasive therapy is listening. Many patients complain of not being listened to. In their defense the current health system does not allow doctors time to sit with and listen to their patients let alone find the cause of their suffering. They only have time to act as match-makers of symptoms with drugs.

Slowly people are catching on. Fourteen states recognize Naturopathic Physicians (Naturopathic Doctor or ND) as primary care physicians or safe practitioners who have a broad scope of practice and these laws protect the public from health advisors who do not have the education or training to give such advice. Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe in any amount or without possible negative side-effects or interactions.

As we transition into this historical phenomenon of the modern doctor one must differentiate between two types of Naturopaths; those who studied at a school, college, or internet course that is not accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) which do not include any medical training or clinical internship and those who studied at one of six CNME accredited Naturopathic Medical colleges in North America. These medical colleges or universities are nationally accredited and consist of four to six years of rigorous study in the classroom, preceptoring with other physicians, and hundreds of hours practicing in busy teaching clinics.

Naturopathic medical curricula meet or exceed the standard (allopathic) medical curricula of all other highly respected medical colleges. Studies include the basic human sciences; anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pathology, as well as focused study in the “ologies”; neurology, urology, oncology, etc. Students are taught from the Merck Manual, the Bible of conventional medicine and learn pharmacology of prescription drugs, many of which are within the scope of practice of an ND and are prescribed by them if and when the case arises.

In addition to all of this, naturopathic philosophy and history are taught, and the seemingly infinite number of natural modalities known to human kind. These include, but are by no means limited to; botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutritional medicine, hydrotherapy, exercise prescription, lifestyle counseling, health education, physical medicine (manual manipulation), dietary prescription, energy medicine, mind-body medicine, etc. Licensed Naturopaths sit for two sets of board exams to further ensure that they are indeed ready to begin the real world education of practicing as a doctor.

 Naturopaths are filling a crucial role in modern medicine and setting examples. Many Medical schools are now scrambling to open “natural medicine” branches in their medical programs such as the one at Harvard School of Medicine. With the initiation of the governmentally defined field of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), a new integration of world medicine is being born. The U.S, it would seem, is finally breaking the convention of steadfast rigidity in what the American Medical Association has clung to as the definition of medicine. We are opening our arms to the possibility of other ideas about medicine, passed down to us as gifts, that were, at times, right under our feet all along.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Modern Medicine: A Guide to the Future of Medicine (Part I)

Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of natural medicine that was originally developed over 100 years ago. The practice of naturopathy is based on thousands of years of knowledge of plant medicine combined with a philosophy of healing and modern, evidence-based natural therapeutics.

I am a Naturopathic physician, a licensed, primary care doctor who specializes in natural medicine. I identify and correct the underlying causes of chronic disease. An ND is trained in general medicine similarly to the MD including the basic medical sciences, diagnostics, physical examination, and laboratory testing. In Washington, and in many of the 14 states where it is regulated, naturopathic medicine is complete primary care medicine requiring no other interventions except in the case a patient desires it or it is deemed medically necessary to refer to another specialist or in an emergency situation.

As technology in medicine progresses, natural traditions in medicine continue, passed down from generations and borrowed from cultures.  These traditions are oblivious to whether or not people “believe” in them for they are not part of a religion. They are part of history.  People used traditional remedies for a health complaint or illness and it cured them.   Most doctors now days have excised that word from their vocabulary.

More than fifty percent of today's pharmaceuticals are synthetic or altered versions of something found in nature so that a company could patent it and charge larger sums of money to make bigger profits. This is illustrated beautifully in National Geographic's "Nature's Medicine; Plants that Heal". Any pharmacist, doctor, or other medical professional who thinks natural "remedies" don't work do not know the history of their own medicine.

Natural therapies can have miraculous actions especially when you did not think it was going to be effective. Those who have been waiting in vain until the proper research study came along to “prove” its efficacy and not acknowledging its history are being left behind. However, medicine alone, natural or otherwise, is not the answer.

At the forefront of modern medicine are the world’s most highly trained practitioners of these Natural therapies who also uphold the gold standards in medicine pertaining to diagnostics and responsible patient care.The pendulum has swung once again, I introduce to you the Modern Doctor; the Naturopathic Physician.