The Difference between Naturopathic and Western Medicines

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For many years, there has been a divide between Western medicine and the traditional healing arts, such as naturopathy and homeopathy.

 

Unfortunately, Western medicine has taken the term “traditional medicine” as its own to describe a form of medicine that is anything but, and now the healing arts are considered “alternative medicine.”

 

Naturopathy, or natural medicine, has been around since humans have existed, and it is classic medicine. It is often called Eastern medicine because many of its tenets come from the East, or Asia. It harnesses the body’s own healing processes and natural propensity for health.

 

As defined in the online version of Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, naturopathy is “a system of treatment of disease that avoids drugs and surgery and emphasizes the use of natural agents (as air, water, and herbs) and physical means (as tissue manipulation and electrotherapy).”

 

Naturopathic physicians have little need for prescription medication or surgery as the first line of treatment for an ailment.

 

It is much more effective to prevent disease, so we as naturopaths educate our patients to give their bodies all they need to become and stay healthy, including nutritious food, movement, and additional (natural) supplementation. Naturopathic medicine treats the entire person and focuses on whole-body health.

 

Western medicine is also known as allopathic medicine. It has not been in existence as long as naturopathy, but it is better known as the medicine routinely practiced in North America.

 

The definition of “allopathy” from the online version of Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary is “…medical practice that aims to combat disease by use of remedies (as drugs or surgery) producing effects different from or incompatible with those produced by the disease being treated…”

 

Western (allopathic) physicians typically deal with disease after it has surfaced. Prevention is not usually a goal, though some doctors do stress preventive measures for diseases such as the flu.

 

Western medicine doctors focus on relieving signs and symptoms of illness. Prescription medications and invasive treatments such as surgery are heavily relied on. These medicines often work against the body’s natural processes to effect a specific type of response.

 

Naturopathic medicine stresses the importance of diet, exercise, supplementation, and complementary treatments such as massage, bodywork, meditation, and relaxation. Western medicine rarely discusses nutrition or exercise unless the patient is obese or anorexic.

 

Western medicine practitioners often discredit naturopathic medicine and speak of it with distaste. However, most naturopaths believe that, while Western doctors are too quick to use drugs or surgery, both play a role in advanced or long-standing disease.

 

Because they treat the whole person, naturopathic physicians treat a wide variety of illness, from ADHD to chronic fatigue and from headaches to women’s health.

 

While some allopathic physicians have a generalized practice or are primary care doctors, most practice in specialties such as cardiac medicine or obstetrics.

 

Thanks to the mainstream media, some believe that naturopaths (NDs) are not actually doctors, but they receive the same amount of training that Western doctors (MDs) do. The emphases of the medical programs are as different as night and day, however.

 

Naturopathy aims to find the cause of disease and treat from the inside out, while Western medicine treats from the outside in. While NDs personalize every treatment, MDs determine which medication to prescribe. Naturopathic and Western medicine are both evidence based.

 

For example, if a patient presents with hypertension (high blood pressure), an ND will look for the cause. Is it obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise? A common treatment plan in natural medicine will involve improving the diet, adding exercise, and limiting salt and alcohol.

 

An MD will prescribe a drug, often a beta blocker or ACE inhibitor. He or she might suggest a diet overhaul and exercise, but the drug is the main treatment given.

 

Quite a difference in treatment approaches! Which do you prefer?

 

When you create a healthy body, you are less susceptible to disease, and you have less chance of falling victim to the lifestyle diseases of our time, such as diabetes and heart disease.

 

Naturopathic medicine helps you build a strong immune system that can fight off most toxins or ailments.

 

If you would like to talk to us about how naturopathy can help you, please contact us today.

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