Naturopathic Medicine is a form of medicine that combines nature with modern science. It originally was brought to the United States in the 1800s, from Germany. Like Functional Medicine practitioners, Naturopathic practitioners concentrate on the wellness of the whole patient and examine the overall health and history of the patient to determine the underlying cause of illness, rather than just treating the symptoms.
Naturopathic Medicine is made up of 6 key principles:
Naturopathic Medicine may involve a variety of different therapies, including, but not limited to, nutritional counseling, massage, herbs, acupuncture, and exercise.
While Naturopathic Medicine is similar to Integrative Medicine and Functional Medicine, there are some key differences between the three.
Naturopathic Medicine focuses on nature and the healing power of the body to prevent disease. Naturopathic practitioners also focus on preventing future diseases in addition to addressing the root cause of whatever is causing a patient’s current symptoms.
Integrative Medicine means just that -- it’s integrative. It may involve a variety of different treatments, therapies, dietary changes, physicians, and/or practitioners, including but not limited to acupuncture, animal-assisted therapy, aromatherapy, dietary supplements/nutritional changes, massage therapy, music therapy, detoxification, and meditation.
Functional Medicine focuses on restoring harmony and function in the body, operating under the philosophy that when the body’s core functions are imbalanced, disease and symptoms of the disease can come as a result. By examining a child’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle, the practitioner can create a plan to restore balance in the child’s system.
Naturopathic treatments can be used to manage the symptoms of Autism. Methods may include food-based/diet therapies, detoxing, B-12 injections, and elimination diets. Since many children with Autism have issues with gut health, naturopathic practitioners may start by primarily addressing nutrition.
According to Dr. Nicola McFadzean of Restor Medicine in San Diego, California, there are four major categories of Naturopathic Treatment for Autism:
Naturopathic Medicine may also be used to treat children with ADHD. Methods of treatment include nutrition therapy, probiotic supplements, fish oil supplements, and a hypoallergenic diet. For parents seeking an alternative to prescription drugs, Naturopathy for ADHD may prove to be a good option, since the practitioner will treat the whole child and look to get to the root cause of the symptoms instead of just treating the symptoms alone.
What should I look for in a practitioner, and where can I find one?
When it comes to practitioners, there are different types. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) a four-year graduate degree program and are required to become licensed in some states. While they learn the same principles as conventional doctors, they also study nutrition, psychology, and alternative therapies. Then there are Naturopaths, who practice Naturopathic Medicine, but did not attend school and are not licensed practitioners. Also, some traditional doctors will incorporate Naturopathy into their conventional practice.