Day Five of Naturopathic Medicine Week What are Some of the Therapies Used by Naturopathic Doctors?

Naturopathic doctors use a variety of tools and treatment methods to address all types of conditions. Naturopathic doctors commonly treat using therapies such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, nutritional/lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine, physical medicine, injection/intravenous therapy, and homeopathy. Some naturopathic doctors have additional training in skills or tools such as live blood cell analysis, Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) technology, therapeutic ultrasound or laser, and many others. Naturopathic doctors may also choose to have a focus on a particular condition or body system, such as skin or the endocrine system. Below is a detailed description of all the therapies used. 

Nutritional & Lifestyle Counseling

Nutritional medicine is based on the principle that nutrients are essential for the proper functioning of all the biochemical processes on which our bodies depend. Therefore, when treating conditions, symptoms, or diseases, we look for the underlying causes which, can be somewhat genetic, but are usually also associated with nutritional deficiencies and environmental factors.

Naturopathic medicine aims to assess diet, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices in order to determine if there is a need for support through the use of vitamins/supplements, minerals, amino acids. 

Supplements are not meant to take the place of good food and nutrition; they are used to support the body in order to achieve optimal levels of certain nutrients we may be lacking. Having a good diet and food is the long term goal. Naturopathic doctors can help you to achieve this long term goal by working with you to develop meal plans that work for you. 

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. It is based on the belief that qi (the body's vital energy) flows along meridians (channels) in the body and keeps a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health in balance. TCM aims to restore the body’s balance and harmony between the natural opposing forces of yin and yang, which can block qi and cause disease. TCM uses techniques such as acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, and cupping.

Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathy is a medical science based on the principle that “like cures like”. In simple words, it means that any substance, which can produce symptoms in a healthy person, can cure similar symptoms in a person who is sick. This idea is referred to as the “Law of Similars”. An example of this principle: An onion is a substance which makes your eyes water and your nose burn. If you are having an attack of hay fever with watering eyes and a burning nose, a homeopathic remedy made from onion can relieve it.

Currently there are three thousand substances used as homeopathic remedies to treat everything from colds and cough to arthritis and cancer.

The second principle of homeopathy is that you should give the least amount of medicine necessary to evoke a healing response. This is called the “Minimum Dose”. In an effort to prevent side effects, homeopathic medicine uses dilution techniques to find the point at which they would be therapeutic, but not toxic.

Botanical Medicine

Botanical medicine, also called herbal medicine or phytomedicine, refers to using a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside conventional medicine. Plant parts can be used in a variety of forms including:

  • Dried botanicals – a variety of plants and their respective parts such as leafs, stems, and berries or flowers can be used in their dried form to make medicinal herbal supplements or teas to treat a variety of conditions
  • Tinctures – a botanical tincture is a liquid extract made by soaking herbs in alcohol to extract the active ingredients from the herbs. Alcohol is considered an excellent solvent because it is food grade and can extract herbal constituents that are poorly soluble in water. After a number of weeks, the herbs are then strained and removed, leaving behind the liquid. A tincture can be made of a single herb or a combination of herbs.

Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as allergies, asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer, among others.

Physical Medicine

Naturopathic doctors are trained in physical medicine which is the assessment of musculoskeletal disorders of the spine, peripheral joints and related soft tissues. Physical medicine works to restore the structural integrity of the skeletal system, joints, and soft tissue; and it builds immunity and supports healing and detoxification.

Most commonly treated conditions:

  • Muscle and joint strains and sprains
  • Sciatica, low back pain, whiplash and neck pain
  • Tendinitis, such as tennis elbow and golfer's elbow
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritic syndromes
  • Extremity numbness

Recommended treatments include various massage techniques, muscle-stretching, manipulation of the spine and extremities, infra-red sauna, hydrotherapy (which includes hot and cold packs, steam baths, hot and cold baths, sauna, peat baths), acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, and homeopathy. These interventions reduce pain and inflammation, helping to restore normal mobility and functionality of joints, and can positively influence nerve involvement.

Injection/Intravenous Therapy

Some naturopathic doctors have additional training and offer injection and/or intravenous therapy as a treatment option. IV nutrient therapy is the use of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in high doses – higher than what you would find in your vitamin/supplement. Formulas are customized to the patient and their needs, and are typically used for:

  • Low energy & chronic fatigue
  • Adrenal fatigue (stress)
  • Anti-aging
  • Colds & Flus
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Athletic Performance & Recovery

Naturopathic doctors can also administer B12 injections. B12 is used to boost mood and energy. Many people are low in vitamin B12 because of stress, poor diet and nutrition, digestive problems, or because certain medications deplete this key nutrient. B12 injections are an excellent way to optimize your energy and overall health. 

If you are interested in learning more about naturopathic medicine or trying a therapy give us a call at 905-683-1616. 

Yours in health, 
Dr. Kate Klein, ND