A New Recipe for Healing with Naturopathic Medicine: Naturopathic medicine embraces the healing power of nature and focuses treatment on the whole person, says Kate Lloyd.
Dec 24, 2015 08:17AM
● By Kate Lloyd
Our world is filled with people that are sick, hurting and desperately needing relief. Many have tried prescription painkillers or similar solutions, only to find themselves frustrated with unwanted side effects and even addiction.
Fortunately, there’s another option—one that embraces the healing power of nature and works to treat the whole person. Naturopathic medicine, by combining the best of conventional and complementary therapies, offers a new way to approach healing; and the future looks especially promising in this realm of health care.
In fact, naturopathic doctors have an ever-expanding collection of tools for addressing both men and women’s health concerns, including insomnia, hormone balancing, mental health issues and more. But according to Paul Mittman, ND, EdD, the president/CEO of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), many doctor visits today stem from pain—including headaches, low back pain, neck pain, arthritis of the knees and a wide range of shoulder problems. Naturopathic doctors can help address this pain epidemic by integrating conventional pain management techniques with modern, innovative technologies.
“Techniques like manual therapy and manipulation have always been a part of naturopathic medicine,” says Mittman. “But over the last few years, we’ve been able to augment those therapies with some really powerful healing tools, such as regenerative injection therapy.”
Prolotherapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and autologous stem cell therapy, collectively known as regenerative injection therapy, works by stimulating the body’s own healing mechanism in a joint, ligament or tendon. “The body has these amazing healing components,” explains Mittman. “What we’re doing is just focusing the body’s naturally occurring molecules and concentrating them right into the area of injury. Naturopathic medicine specializes in stimulating the body’s ability to self-heal.”
In addition to promoting the body’s self-healing mechanisms, naturopathic medicine works by removing obstacles—such as an inflammatory diet—that can “pour fuel onto the fire” and contribute to a person’s chronic pain, Mittman adds. Other tools include anti-inflammatory herbs (such as curcumin) and acupuncture, both of which bring ancient techniques into an effective modern-day healing model.
A Changing Scene in Natural Medicine
The future of naturopathic care looks much more technological compared to years past. Doctors are beginning to employ telemedicine for virtual patient visits, allowing the patient to remain in the comfort of his or her own home during appointments. SCNM alumnus Daniel Rubin, ND, FABNO, says patients are often more at ease during over-the-phone consults, making telemedicine a useful tool for the modern doctor.
“People want to feel comfortable because we’re in an era of more personalized medicine, so visits are mainly discussion-based,” says Rubin. “We’re also moving more toward an overall wellness industry, rather than just a medical industry.” Adding to the element of personalization, wearable and implantable devices will likely play a bigger role in the future of health care. These tools offer the capabilities of tracking exercise, blood pressure, blood sugar and more.
Expanding insurance coverage also offers much promise for the field of naturopathic medicine. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more people are using high-deductible HSA accounts that can be used to cover naturopathic care. In addition, Cigna now offers coverage for naturopathic medicine, and the profession will continue putting a lot of energy into getting insurance coverage, according to Mittman.
Advancing techniques in pain management and beyond, coupled with telemedicine, wearable technology and growing insurance coverage, portray a bright future in the world of natural medicine.
Kate Lloyd is senior communications coordinator at SCNM. For more information, phone 480-970-0000 or visit scnm.edu.