Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naturopathic Medicine: Healing in Harmony with Nature

Are you tired of 5 minute visits to your HMO doctor who won’t even listen to you, getting the same prescription drugs you’ve been told you need to be on for the rest of your life, yet they don’t really help your condition and have irritating side effects that are worse than what you went in for, and never being told why you have what you have? 

If so, you’re like most Americans who are sorely disappointed with the conventional medical system that they feel is routinely ignoring their needs, and are hungry for doctors who can teach them how to get well and stay healthy, and is knowledgeable in both conventional and alternative treatment methods.

Naturopathic Medicine, also known as Naturopathy, may be just the answer you are looking for.  The Naturopathic Medical profession evolved in the 1800s from a merger between Homeopathy, and an older system called Nature Cure.  In fact, the word Naturopathy was derived by combining the word Nature from Nature Cure, and the “-opathy” from Homeopathy, creating Naturopathy.

Naturopathic Doctors are licensed as primary care providers in 18 states and territories in the US, including California.  Naturopathic doctors attend 4-year graduate programs comparable to Medical doctors, Osteopathic doctors and Chiropractic doctors, and receive training in the basic medical sciences, diagnostics and treatment methods.  Their training differs from all other doctors in that, from their first day of medical school, they are educated in the holistic model and taught to use natural treatments as a primary method of treatment.  These include herbal medicines, homeopathy, physical manipulation, counseling and mind-body medicine, and clinical nutrition.  In fact, Naturopathic doctors typically receive more nutritional training than an MD, DO, DC, acupuncturist and a nutritionist combined.

What truly makes Naturopathic doctors different is the underlying philosophy which guides their actions with every patient encounter. 

The first point of Naturopathic philosophy involves the Healing Power of Nature, sometimes referred to as your Vital Force.  This concept acknowledges that we each have within us a natural form of organic, living energy.  Oriental Medicine refers to this as Qi, while Ayurvedic Medicine from India refers to it as Prana.  Proper flow and function of the Vital Force is required for optimal health. This energy also contains part of the logic for our built-in healing systems.  Naturopathic doctors strive to always work in harmony with your natural healing ability.

Just as Hippocrates taught, all doctors, when caring for patients, should endeavor to First, Do No Harm.  Even though this same tenet is in the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors in the conventional medical system, when looking at the amount of side effects from prescription drugs (which lead to more than 100,000 deaths each year) and un-necessary surgeries performed, it is a valid question to ask if the conventional system really honors this principle.  Naturopathic doctors, by treating each patient individually and customizing protocols based on your response to treatment rather than blindly pushing forward with a standard protocol, are constantly reassessing your progress to ensure that, in fact, we Do No Harm.

As a core part of our philosophy, Naturopathic doctors are taught to always seek the true, root cause of your condition.  Symptoms are important only in that they point the way to the root cause.  Eliminating symptoms is not considered the end in itself.  This is in stark contrast to the conventional medical approach, where eliminating symptoms is often the only focus of treatment.  An example might be a simple nutrient deficiency.  B Vitamins are crucial for red blood cell formation, nervous system function and your liver’s ability to remove toxins from your body.  You might be anemic resulting in severe fatigue and poor healing ability, have mental or emotional symptoms such as severe anxiety, numbness and tingling in your fingers or toes, and be suffering from constipation and toxemia.  In the conventional world you could end up on half a dozen or more prescription drugs, while in a Naturopathic office you could simply be given some B12 injections and a high potency oral supplement, which treats the root cause of all your ailments.

As mentioned earlier, Naturopathic doctors are trained in the Holistic principle – that all parts of our organism are interconnected and constantly interact, and in fact it is impossible to change one area of the body without affecting your entire being.  Treat the Whole Person, thus, is another keynote of Naturopathic Philosophy.

Naturopathic doctors respect the fact that you, the patient, need to understand what is going on in your body, and with your healing.  This we accomplish through education – taking the time to have a conversation with each patient, and actually listen.  Historically, the term Doctor comes from the Latin “docere” – to teach.  The Doctor as Teach is another point of our philosophy.

The final main point of Naturopathic philosophy is the concept of Prevention.  We regard Prevention as the Best Cure.  A prime example would be the interconnected epidemic of Obesity, Heart Disease and Diabetes.  All are approaching 50% of the population being affected.  A mere 100 years ago, these were all 2-3% or less.  Clearly, the dramatic increase in these conditions in the last year is driven by diet and lifestyle factors, which are 100% in your control.  As a society we have the power to reverse this trend, merely by re-adopting whole food diets, supplementing the Essential Nutrients to levels compatible with our current needs, and gradually eliminating the environmental toxicities which are driving the need for higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Within 10 years, it is theoretically possible to eliminate 90% or more of the cases of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Obesity afflicting our society.  Now that’s prevention!

When you visit a Naturopathic doctor, you can expect a doctor who listens, cares, educates, empowers, and understands how to customize treatment approaches for each patient.  You will find a doctor who is knowledgeable in nutrition and nutritional supplements and how to diagnose and treat any aspects of your condition which are nutritionally related; a doctor trained in both the traditional and scientific use of herbal medicines as well as homoepathy.  One who can evaluate your current treatment regimen for safety and compatibility between your supplements, herbs and any prescription medications you may be taking. 

Naturopathic Medicine represents the art and science of natural healing.  Here in the 21st century, Naturopathic doctors offer the best of modern scientific western medicine, combined with the holistic philosophy that distinguishes most systems of Alternative medicine. 

Dr. Arlan Cage, ND, LAc, is a licensed Naturopathic doctor as well as a licensed Acupuncturist with a practice in Mount Shasta, California, where he emphasizes primary care medicine from a Holistic point of view.  He routinely combines Western and Eastern holistic approaches which are individually customized for each patient.  He regularly treats cases involving cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, endocrine disorder, including thyroid illness, menopause, infertility, and menstrual disorders, as well as acute care for a variety of infectious illnesses such as colds, flus and intestinal disorders. His primary treatment methods are nutrition, herbal medicine and homeopathy.  He also treats musculoskeletal pain using kinesiology and acupuncture.  For more information, visit his website at, or call 530-926-1600.


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