There is a natural tendency of all life toward health. Without interference, nature will always move in the direction of healing. The process of healing which is innate to the human body is supported and stimulated by the inner and outer environments. True health is present not only in the body but also in the psyche and spirit.
Sometimes the body faces obstacles to health, such as infectious organisms and toxins, that overwhelm its healing abilities. Other times our mechanisms to heal become impaired. This can occur as a result of metabolic, immune or detoxification dysfunctions, or can have its roots in the psyche and spirit. The balance then no longer favors health and healing, and the result at such times is a state of “dis-ease.”
Nature provides agents to support health, to prevent disease and to stimulate healing. The outer and inner environments created by our lifestyles and habits can prevent disease if healthy foods, regular exercise, stress management and attending to the spirit are all incorporated. When disease takes hold and intervention is required, nutritional and herbal substances can be used as medicines.
Naturopathic doctors combine these understandings about health and disease, knowledge of physiology and biochemistry, and modern diagnostic tools including physical exam, lab tests and imaging, to identify the sources of disease. Through nutritional, botanical and homeopathic medicines, naturopathic medicine can help re-establish health by stimulating the immune system and detoxification pathways, by directly fighting infections, or by promoting specific hormone or neurotransmitter synthesis.
The traditional medicines used in naturopathy often have long histories of use that provide us with information about safety and efficacy. Many of the most commonly used herbs and nutrients have more recently been the subjects of scientific research attempting to better understand their biological activities and medicinal properties, in many cases verifying what was known historically.
Naturopathic interventions can be used effectively for chronic conditions and for non-life-threatening acute ailments such as colds and flus. Annual physical exams and screening lab tests can also be performed by naturopathic doctors.