The Nature of Naturopathic Medicine

Never heard of or been involved with naturopathic medicine? You may be surprised!

Did your grandmother ever make you her special chicken soup recipe when you felt under the weather? How about a cup of chamomile tea after a large meal to settle your stomach? Or sitting in a hot sauna and then jumping into cold water afterwards? While these traditional remedies may seem unrelated, they all have a common theme: the healing power of nature and the ability of the body to heal itself when supported and stimulated – the naturopathic medicine philosophy.
Chicken soup tends to have a lot of nutritional value; rich in vitamin C and other nutrients that can support your immune system. Chamomile, known for its potent medicinal properties has been valued as a digestive relaxant for centuries. The alternating application of heat from a sauna followed by cold water is considered a form of hydrotherapy; a treatment that dates back to ancient civilization.
With an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion, it is not surprising that more than 70 percent of Canadians regularly use complementary health care therapies, such naturopathic medicine, to stay healthy and improve their quality of life1.
Naturopathic medicine is also proactive and provides unique treatment options for individuals and their families. Addressing both acute and chronic conditions, naturopathic treatments are chosen based on the individual patient – their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual states, and their environment and lifestyle factors.
Brittany and Devon Balodis decided to see a Naturopathic Doctor before they started growing their family: “I decided to see a Naturopathic Doctor more than five years ago, to make sure I was doing what I could do to prepare my body for a healthy pregnancy and baby,” says Brittany. “We talked about healthy supplementation, nutrition, did acupuncture, and looked at my body as a whole. Since then, Naturopathic medicine has supported our family through having two healthy babies and keeping them healthy as children. We’ve worked with our Naturopathic Doctor on things like digestive issues, skin issues – where we didn’t want to cover those symptoms with a medication, but get to the root cause.”
With headlines like, “Family doctor shortage a threat to health care in Atlantic Canada,” and “Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage is putting residents at serious risk,” the way we approach health and our healthcare model has to change and evolve to meet the needs of our communities.
Dr. Jennifer Lilly has been practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor for the past 14 years in Antigonish. With the growing healthcare crisis, Dr. Lilly believes Naturopathic Doctors can step in to help guide patients through the system and help them be an advocate for their health. “Our expertise in disease prevention becomes even more important at this time,” says Dr. Lilly. “Teaching patients how to prevent and/or naturally manage any pre-existing conditions can help lessen the load on our current medical providers. I believe in an ideal system where there would be a “marriage” between conventional and naturopathic medicine, creating the best holistic model for patients.”
The roots of naturopathic medicine run deep: there is the honouring of traditional and natural medicines while combining advances in modern medical knowledge. From the use of natural medicines that have been used throughout most of human history, to the growing state-of-the-art scientific research in naturopathic treatments, naturopathic medicine is as unique as the people and families
it supports.
Communities that thrive need healthy populations. By emphasising the
“health” in healthcare, and focussing
on prevention as well as being proactive in working with patients, the whole community benefits from the work
of naturopathic doctors with our current medical model. Their extensive and rigorous education, training and licensing ensures that they can fulfil their naturopathic oath, which is: “By precept, education and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves and future generations.”
1 Public Health Agency of Canada