A brief primer
Naturopathic medicine is often considered as a form of complementary and alternative medicine, as opposed to the "conventional" medical system. In the province of British Columbia, Naturopathic Doctors (ND's) are a highly regulated profession with a scope of practice similar to that of a medical doctor in general practice, and are equipped to be primary care practitioners. This means that they can order laboratory tests, perform physical examinations, make diagnoses, and prescribe pharmaceutical medications. This is in addition to “naturopathic” treatment options that focus on prevention, and are often an important adjunct in treating acute and chronic diseases. These include dietary modifications and specific nutrient supplementation, botanical medicine, and lifestyle counselling.
Integrative. Holistic. Natural. Individualized. Functional.
These are some of the words you'd most often hear being associated with naturopathic medicine from practitioners and proponents.
Non-evidence-based. Unproven. Quackery. Exploitative. Dangerous.
These are assertions you might here from critics of naturopathic medicine who oppose, disagree with, or attempt to discredit the profession and its practitioners.
As is the case with most perceived "black and white" issues, the reality lies somewhere within the grey. Medicine, naturopathic or otherwise, does not have room for absolutes such as "always"or "never". It requires sound logic, artful deftness, emotional flexibility, and an open mind. The truth is, these attributes vary widely practitioner to practitioner, medical and naturopathic doctor alike.
The constant in all this variation, however, is that all naturopathic physicians are guided by the principles of the profession, and a clinical approach that follows the naturopathic therapeutic order. Call it dogma if you will but it's these two things that make us as naturopathic doctors different.
If you’re still with me, let’s look at all this is applied in a real life clinical context.