Naturopathy: Treating the Whole Person

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by Phyllis Kennemer

Is the innate wisdom of the human body able to regulate itself and to heal disorders? Is illness caused by an imbalance in the body’s natural systems? Can the body be brought back into harmony through the use of natural remedies, including dietary and lifestyle changes? Is Naturopathy the path to long term good health?

Naturopathic physicians offer an integrated coordination of health care based on the premise that the human body functions as a whole system with interconnected physical, emotional and spiritual components. Doctors trained in Western medicine diagnose and treat symptoms, often through the use of pharmaceuticals and surgery. Conversely, naturopathic doctors look at the whole person and treat the cause of the problem rather than the symptom. Their practices and techniques serve as a bridge between Western medical practices and those offered through a variety of alternative health procedures.

Naturopathy helps bring about lasting cures to health problems, engaging the patient in accepting responsibility for good health through changes in life practices.

Dr. Lorraine Caron, ND, is a graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Naturopathic doctors complete a four-year post-graduate program. During the first two years, the curriculum is similar to that found in traditional MD programs in medical schools – basic medical sciences and diagnosis.

After the first two years the types of studies diverge. While typical medical students are learning about specific symptoms and ways to deal with them mainly through the use of pharmaceuticals and surgery, the naturopathic students are studying the use of natural remedies, including vitamin/mineral supplements, herbal compounds, homeopathic remedies, and physical treatments along with lifestyle changes that help the body heal itself.

Upon graduation, a naturopathic doctor is qualified to provide basic medical services, and in states with licensure procedures in place, these doctors may serve as primary physicians. Colorado is one of the states that does not have a licensure procedure for naturopathic doctors. Dr. Caron continues to keep her license from the state of Oregon active, but the lack of licensure in this state limits her practice, preventing her from prescribing medications and administering vaccinations, for example.

Dr. Caron explains that eating a healthy diet provides the basis for maintaining wellness. Identifying nutritional needs and possible deficiencies, food allergies or sensitivities is basic to her diagnosis and recommendations for all patients. Helping patients change eating habits and engage in appropriate exercise is central to her treatment practices.

Dr. Caron has extensive training in the effective use of homeopathic treatment, a system in which specifically prepared dilutions of substances are matched with the patient to stimulate the body’s innate healing forces. Homeopathic remedies act deeply on both the emotional and physical levels to create lasting change. She is also trained in the use of botanical medicine, using natural herbal remedies which support the body in its healing process.

Hydrotherapy utilizes hot and cold water applications, steam, and sauna techniques. Dr. Caron uses hydrotherapy in limited ways in her present practice, but she looks forward to her “dream clinic” where she will have the tubs and water supplies necessary for more wide-ranging treatments.

Lifestyle counseling is a major part of Dr. Caron’s work. She teaches techniques for reducing stress and eliminating factors that cause illness. She works closely with other health care professionals and makes referrals to medical doctors, psychiatrists, and alternative treatment practitioners when appropriate.

Because of the lack of licensure for naturopathic medicine in Colorado, prospective patients are advised to check on the training and education of the provider before selecting a doctor. Some doctors specialize in specific procedures, so a preliminary consultation is also necessary before treatment begins.

A number of naturopathic physicians offer their services through clinics located in Northern Colorado including Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont and Boulder. They can be found on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.

The Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

• Do No Harm Naturopathic doctors begin with the least invasive therapies possible. They use and recommend low-risk procedures and compounds with few or no side effects. Each diagnosis and treatment plan is prepared to meet the needs of the individual patient.

• Implement the Healing Power of Nature Health is the natural state of the body. When harmful barriers are found and removed, the body returns to its natural healthy state.

• Identify and Treat the Cause Unless the cause of the symptom is found and removed, the body will continue to attempt self-healing and the symptom will reoccur.

• The Doctor as Teacher Education empowers people to take responsibility for their own health. Naturopathic doctors teach patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves, taking into account their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

• Treat the Whole Person Naturopathic physicians recognize the unique qualities and needs of each person. They consider all aspects of the person’s makeup and of the environment in which that person exists before determining a course of action and treatment.

• Prevent Illness Health screenings and counseling enable doctors to create treatment procedures that reduce the risks of health ailments and help them to establish healthy lifestyles.

Dr. Phyllis K. Kennemer is a Certified Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator. She is a life-long learner and educator with a specialty in children’s literature.