Knowledge and prevention for greater well-being
This is the third of a three part series on the principles of naturopathic medicine. These six principles are founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence and used by naturopathic doctors to diagnose and treat patients.
The first four principles (discussed in the earlier two articles) are: 1. Treat the cause (not merely the symptoms), 2. Do no harm, 3. Let nature heal, and 4.Treat the whole person.
The fifth principle of naturopathic medicine is to educate patients. Knowledge is power, and to be able to understand what is going on in your body is an incredible tool.
Naturopathic doctors take time with their patients to explain what is going on and why it might be happening. Our bodies are systems, and if we miss the first few "signals" (aka symptoms) that something is wrong, it will continue to progress until we listen.
Naturopathic doctors believe that doctors must also be educators, as well as physicians, so that patients can recognize when their body is "signaling" a message that must be heeded. Because NDs schedule longer appointments (at least an hour here in our center), patients have time to ask questions and receive answers.
The sixth and final principle of naturopathic medicine is to prevent illness. Some may argue that prevention should actually be the first principle. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery, and lives.
NDs evaluate risk factors, heredity and vulnerability to disease. They are able to explain to patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally - tailored to each individual patient.
NDs take the time to review a patient's lifestyle and make recommendations so that more positive and healthy habits are replacing old, disease-forming habits. NDs also encourage self-responsibility, as the little decisions that we make every day affect our health the most.
Little decisions, like the foods we choose to eat at meals, and the activities we choose to participate in - whether it be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, joining a recreational sports team, or partaking in less healthy behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol.
Another critically important way to get or stay healthy is by doing regular blood tests. These tests can save lives and significantly improve the quality of life. Most medical issues that are discovered on blood tests cannot be felt by the patient - whether it be elevated triglycerides or liver enzymes. The only way to learn of these potentially disastrous problems is by doing blood work.
By getting treatment for greater wellness, we are far less likely to need treatment for future illness.
- Reach Registered Dietitian Meghan O'Hara at DietitianMeghan@SacND.com.
Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.
He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591.
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