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.

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