The relationship between conventional medicine and naturopathic medicine has always been contentious. Both approaches toward healing have their strengths and weaknesses.

As I tell my patients, if you break a leg, that’s a situation where you would want to go to the ER. Conventional medicine is excellent during emergency situations that require immediate attention, such as injury or life-threatening illness. Conventional medicines are fast-acting and powerful to achieve immediate improvement in a dire situation.

Once the emergency is over, however, we can look at the use of complementary and alternative medicine.

For example, if a woman had severe PPD, she might be put on an anti-depressant and birth control pill by her doctor. Once she has stabilized with dietary and lifestyle changes, herbal and amino acid therapies, and she is well supported, we may begin to wean her off the prescription medications. If possible, this is the best choice. To leave a person on medications which have side effects is not good medicine, yet many women are told they must take their medications for the rest of their lives!

Here are some of the most interesting differences:

The Naturopathic Physicians Oath is a list of five tenants which we physicians pledge at graduation. The most well-known of these is the Hippocratic Oath: “First of all, to do no harm.”

However, did you know that MDs do not take this oath, or instead use an altered version?

“To work in cooperation with the healing powers of nature.” What are the healing powers of nature?  Air, Water, Earth & Fire. Eating a clean diet, pure water, exercise, fresh air, sound restorative sleep, happy relationships, fulfilling work/home life and the avoidance of toxins is the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Chemical medications are not in alignment with nature and cause undesirable side effects as anyone who has seen the television ads for pharmaceutical medicine knows!.

Naturopathic medicine respects and honors the ancient traditions. We use Chinese, Ayurvedic, Native American and European herbal medicine, and I have recently been introduced to Siberian Wise Woman medicine. We honor and incorporate the wisdom of the medicine of indigenous people who are closer to the healing powers of nature. Conventional medicine often discredits these modalities as “quackery”.

“To address the fundamental cause of disease.” By understanding the illness and removing the cause, the body will heal itself. The goal is never to put the person on any medicine, be it pharmaceutical or natural, which the person will be dependent on for the rest of their life.  Rather, treatments to restore the body to wholeness are incorporated.  However, in some cases the body cannot be restored to the function it needs to survive and long term therapy may be necessary. This is often the case due to injury, surgery or aging which has altered the body’s natural process.

“To heal the whole person through individualized treatment.” Naturopathic medicine strives to bring into balance the Body Mind & Spirit. This is an ever evolving, constantly changing journey as the patient moves towards health and away from disease. Each person is treated as an individual based on testing and examination, which is ongoing and personalized. Conventional medicine has more of a “one size fits all” approach with the same medication given for a specific type of diagnosis.

“To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine.” Docere is the Latin word for teacher.  My mother always wanted me to be a teacher, and I had no idea until I graduated and took my oath that that a naturopathic physician is just that!  I am a teacher of healthy living and preventative medicine and for me the best way to do that is to live by these principles. Most patient visits are 7 minutes in America. Not much time to understand the patient complaint, diagnose, create a treatment plan and teach the patient about their illness and how to heal themselves. Conversely a visit with an ND generally lasts 30-60 minutes.

It is so valuable that we honor the importance of different types of medicine and recognize when each is needed.That being said, I can teach you how to live healthily and well! I offer telemedicine (for anyone in the world) and in-person appointments (if you’re in Hawaii)! Please feel free to visit my practice website, to learn more.