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Hippocrates, often referred to as the founder of medicine, claimed that "the natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well". Naturopathy is a type of natural health care that focuses on holistic, non-toxic healing therapies to treat patients' diseases and disorders. Naturopaths view the individual as an integral whole where symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body and unfavorable lifestyle habits. The primary goal is to treat the underlying cause of the disease and to assist the whole person in maximizing the body's inherent self-healing capacity.

Trained naturopaths follow six principles of naturopathy: identify and treat causes, first do no harm, doctor as teacher, treat the whole person, emphasize prevention and support the healing power of the body. To identify and treat the causes, the naturopath identifies and removes the underlying causes of illness, rather than merely eliminating or suppressing symptoms, with quick medications or antibiotics. In first do no harm, naturopaths follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient: One, use methods and medicines which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, and use the least force necessary to diagnose and treat. Two, avoid, when possible, the harmful suppressing of symptoms. Three, acknowledge, respect and work with the individual's self-healing process.

The doctor as teacher principle allows them to share information and knowledge with their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. The holistic aspect treats individual patients by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors. Naturopaths take an extensive history and perform physical examinations relating to lifestyle, including diet, stress, emotions and exercise.

The prevention aspect emphasizes the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Lastly, supporting the healing power of the body believes in the inherent self-healing process in the person. Naturopathic doctors act to facilitate and increase this inherent self-healing process.

Naturopaths employ natural methods of healing such as acupuncture and acupressure, spinal manipulation, reflexology, hydrotherapy, herbal medicines, biochemical therapy, clinical nutrition, homeopathy and counseling in their treatment.

Naturopaths commonly provide alternative treatments to antibiotics and other forms of medicine. They use botanical or herbal medicine; clinical nutrition; recommending specific individual diets, vitamins, mineral and other nutritional supplements and homeopathic medicine, which uses minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body's self-healing abilities. They recommend lifestyle counseling and stress management, paying attention to environmental and lifestyle factors in promoting health. Other methods employed are manipulation, Chinese medicine (including acupuncture and Chinese herbology) and finally, physical therapeutics, utilizing techniques with water, light, electricity, ultra-sound, massage and exercise.

Naturopaths want people to become aware of the responsibility we should all take for ourselves. Healing starts from the inside out and people need to learn to start taking care of themselves holistically and preventatively.
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  Interests and Skills  
Naturopathic practitioners must be knowledgeable in all areas of naturopathic medicine. They need great communication skills to establish a rapport with patients and gain their trust and confidence. They need emotional strength, maturity and must truly believe in this type of medical practice. They enjoy gathering information by observing, interviewing and examining patients and providing holistic treatments.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with patients about their medical history, lifestyle habits and dietary intake
  • Look at holistic factors such as nutritional deficiency, faulty posture, impurities in the air, water or food, and toxic influences of chemicals and drugs
  • Perform massage, acupuncture, acupressure and other Chinese medicine techniques
  • Prescribe botanicals and homeopathic remedies
  • Develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient including lifestyle counseling
  • Refer patients who have conditions that require conventional medical treatments, such as surgery or prescription drugs, to local physicians or hospitals for treatment
  • Practice medicine by the principles of naturopathy
  • Most naturopathic doctors work in private clinics. They examine patients for part of their working day, and do paperwork and research for the remainder of the day. Since they all work in the private clinical setting, most naturopathic doctors set their own hours, resulting in a standard work week. Yet, for the convenience of their patients, they often work some evenings and weekends.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Most naturopathic doctors are self-employed and set up their own private practice, or join a clinic with other health care practitioners and naturopaths. Some are employed in related research and development positions, marketing, teaching or consulting positions.

  Long Term Career Potential  
As with other health professions, naturopathic practices take time to build and success depends on individual initiative, experience and ability. Therefore, many naturopaths remain in the business of natural and holistic healing. Some may become teachers of wellness or educate larger community groups.

  Educational Paths  
Most naturopaths have a bachelor's degree in science or arts. The next step is a four-year program in naturopathy resulting in a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) title.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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