Guiding Principles of Naturopathy
From the desk of Dr. Catherine O’Halloran, ND…
In North America, and much of the Western world, we are facing a frightening reality – the rates of heart disease, obesity, sedentary behavior, cancer, diabetes and many other chronic conditions are escalating at a staggering rate. On the positive side, we are also seeing an increase in the number of patients that are seeking complementary and integrative approaches, because it is clear that pharmaceutical agents are simply not enough. Today, I would like to take some time to explore the foundations of naturopathic medicine, one of the leading professions in complementary medicine.
Although it may seem to some that naturopathic medicine is a new or breakthrough therapy, the components that make up naturopathic medicine – botanical medicine, nutrition, lifestyle modification, physical medicine, homeopathy and, in some states, Traditional Chinese Medicine – have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Naturopathic physicians have been practicing in America since the early 1900’s, but it has only been since the 1970’s that the profession has been recognized, due to changes in regulation, licensing and the re-emergence of professional colleges.
In North America, Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) must complete a Bachelors degree and then attend a 4-year naturopathic medical program at one of the seven accredited colleges. Following graduation, NDs must complete Part I and II of the licensing examinations in order to be a licensed ND. Currently, 16 States, DC and the territories of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands have licensing laws for naturopathic medicine. For a complete list of all licensed states please visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.
Naturopathic medicine is blessed to have a variety of therapies that we can use to help guide our patients back to health. An eclectic practice generally leads to eclecticism within the profession, which can be both positive and also a challenge for unity. However, we do have one entity that binds every naturopathic practitioner: our Guiding Principles. These principals for healing form the foundations of the profession and set us apart from other health care providers.
First, Do No Harm: By using natural substances in appropriate dosages we minimize harm to the body. We respect the body and use the least force that is necessary to make a change.
The Healing Power of Nature: Our goal is to restore and support the innate healing potential of the physical body, mind, and spirit. We act to remove obstacles that impede healing and recovery, which helps the body naturally achieve balance.
Identify and Treat the Cause: NDs determine and treat the underlying cause of disease, rather than simply mask or suppress the superficial symptoms. Think of this: if the engine light comes on in your car, will you smash the dashboard so that you no longer see the light, or will you take your car to a professional to see why it came on in the first place?
Doctor as Teacher: We educate our patients on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and we encourage patients to be responsible for their own health and well-being. We will work with patients to establish a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship, where we can come together to determine goals for healing and recovery.
Treat the Whole Person: NDs consider every patient to be an individual, we formulate treatment plans that are based on the person’s physical entity, mental, emotional and spiritual factors, their genetics and environment and social interactions.
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Using each of the principals listed above, NDs can help patients prevent disease or worsening of their current symptoms. We emphasize lifestyle adjustments that help establish healthy habits and we look for risk factors of chronic disease and determine suitable interventions. Through each of the therapeutic modalities, we can work with patients to achieve internal balance. It is important to remember that health is far more than the absence of disease.
If you’re interested in learning more about naturopathic medicine, I’m dedicating each of my weekly blog posts in November to provide a more thorough overview this complementary form of medicine. You can also schedule a complimentary 20-minute consult with me at OMBE so you may have your questions answered in person. All new patients will receive 10% OFF their initial naturopathy session when you visit from now through the end of the year. Click here to book online or call 617.447.2222 to speak with one of our front desk staff.
Catherine O'Halloran, ND
Catherine O'Halloran completed her Bachelors of Science in Anatomy and Cell Biology, with a minor in Psychology at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. Following that, she attended the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto and obtained her degree as a Naturopathic Doctor. CCNM is one of seven naturopathic colleges accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education.
Catherine chose this profession because she saw the need for a type of health care that treats the entire person, and not just the symptoms of disease. She strives to follow the guiding principles of the profession, especially treating the root cause of disease and utilizing the innate healing power of nature. Through her training at CCNM, Catherine learned each therapeutic modality, including nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle counseling, homeopathy and physical medicine. In addition, she has taken courses through the Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine at Harvard and has started training in craniosacral therapy.
Although Catherine treats a wide variety of patients, with varying diseases, she has a special interest in women's health and pediatrics. In her clinical year at CCNM, Catherine was fortunate to be on a specialty shift in pediatrics, treating conditions such as autism, Asperger's syndrome, ADHD and childhood epilepsy.
Catherine is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors, the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors and the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She currently holds a physicians license through Vermont.