The Natural (holistic) philosophy says that the cause and cure of all disease
lie within the body. In most cases, the body able to heal itself if provided
with the opportunity. In fact, it evolved, over millions of years, to do exactly
this. Its sole purpose is to maintain homeostasis, or to maintain itself in an
optimized condition of health, in order to preserve its life, for as long as
possible. The body’s success rate at managing this has obviously been pretty
good, or we would not have survived as a species over these millions of years.
It does its healing from the inside out - from the brain and spinal cord,
outward through the nervous system, to every organ, and cell and back again.
Natural (Holistic) medicine works on the philosophy of “health,” – assisting the
body to maintain and restore itself by providing the gentle natural support
needed to allow and encourage the body and all its systems to find its own
built-in healthy balance (Homeostasis.)
The natural model does not “treat” disease rather it believes that any dis-ease
only represents an imbalance in the health of the whole body – and can never be
viewed in dissection or isolated in laboratory culture. Therefore, it cannot be
treated in isolation.
The Natural physician will tell you they cannot cure any dis-ease – they can
only provide the necessary support that allows the body to heal itself. That
is how the cure takes place.
When you are in a state of health there will be hundreds of times your
immune system will conquer a disease without any obvious symptoms ever being
The Mystery of the Body –
Its inner workings - is actually the most evolved system in the universe.
Deepak Chopra, MD, gives us a little understanding about why the medical model
may be having so much trouble in putting “health” into its practice.
“The natural model believes that all parts of the body are
interrelated in ways that are so complex, so sophisticated, so elegantly
orchestrated and exquisitely tuned, that all medical technology has only the
crudest, faintest understanding of just a few basic mechanisms.”
The Natural (Holistic) Model of Today
The Natural medical model has the advantage today of using highly scientific,
exacting and sophisticated tests to define the underlying source of illness and
disorder within the body. Rebalancing is the goal and as rebalancing begins
symptoms of dis-ease begin to disappear. The Natural model treats the whole
person and the resolution of the pain suffered by their patient is as important
as identifying and treating any pain generating conditions and any underlying
There are numerous natural products and treatment modalities used to treat pain
– natural products that do not have the side effects of powerful chemical drugs,
and are as effective, or more so, at pain control as any man-made drug. Back and
neck pain patients can expect their pain, pain causing condition, AND any
underlying metabolic imbalance will be effectively, and naturally treated.
It employs methods, which are gentle, and slow acting, working to
support the natural, inborn systems of the body instead of arrogantly
overpowering them. They work to detoxify and rebalance the body’s systems, on
the cellular level, support cell nutrition, using whole food vitamins, minerals,
enzymes, live foods, selected herbs and other forms of supplements. In this way
the dis-ease condition is naturally, gradually rejected and not allowed to
co-exist in a healing biological environment.
The Body must be Healthy Enough to Heal Itself.
There are numerous Natural (Holistic) treatment professionals providing a
variety of healing modalities, much too involved to discuss in total
here. For this article, we look at three main professionals, the Naturopathic
Physician, the Doctor of Chiropractic, and the Doctor of Osteopathy. While we
could have actually include holistic MDs and doctors of functional medicine, we have provided a separate
article for them.
Doctors of Naturopathy (ND)
Naturopathic doctors are primary care (family) physicians clinically trained in
natural therapeutics and whose philosophy is derived in part from a Hippocratic
teaching more than 2,000 years old: "Nature is the healer of all diseases."
Their practice is based on the same basic bio-medical science foundation that
orthodox medical practice is; however, their philosophies and approaches differ
considerably from their orthodox counterparts.
Naturopathic physicians diagnose disease and treat patients using natural
modalities such as physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, herbal medicine,
homeopathy, counseling, acupuncture and hydrotherapy, among others. Treatments
are chosen, based on the individual patient, not based on the generality of
symptoms. This approach has proven successful in treating both chronic and acute
Six Principles That Guide the Therapeutic Methods and
Modalities of Naturopathy
First, Do No Harm: Naturopathic medicine uses
therapies that are safe, gentle and effective.
The Healing Power of Nature: The human body possesses
an inborn ability to restore health. The physician's role is to help this
process with the aid of natural, non-toxic therapies.
Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect:
Physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. Symptoms are
viewed as expressions of the body's natural attempt to heal. The origin
(cause) of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
Treat the Whole Person: The multiple factors in
health and disease are considered while treating the whole person.
Physicians provide flexible treatment programs to meet individual health
care and personal life needs.
The Physician is a Teacher: The physician's major
role is to educate, inform, empower and motivate patients to take
responsibility for their own health. It is important to create a healthy and
knowledgeable cooperative relationship with the patient as it has a strong
Prevention is the Best "Cure" Naturopathic physicians
are preventive medicine specialists. Physicians assess patient risk factors
and heredity susceptibility and intervene appropriately to reduce risk and
prevent illness. Prevention of disease is best accomplished through
education and a lifestyle that supports health.
Naturopathic Physicians Training
A licensed naturopathic physician (ND) attends a four-year graduate level
naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as
an MD but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong
emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.
The degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine requires four years of graduate
level study in the medical sciences including:
Throughout the four years, there is training in naturopathic therapeutics,
including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural
child birth, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, and
other therapies, psychology and counseling (to encourage people to make
lifestyle changes in support of their personal health).
Because the coursework in natural therapeutics is added to a standard medical
curriculum, naturopathic doctors receive significantly more hours of classroom
education than the graduates of many leading othodox medical schools.
Graduates from accredited naturopathic medical schools are eligible to practice
in any province or state in which they meet the licensing requirements set forth
by that province or state. In the states and provinces listed below ND graduates
are required to pass rigorous professional board exams in order to be licensed
as primary care general practice physicians. Only graduates from CNME accredited
naturopathic medical schools are eligible to sit for the professional board
exams in licensed states and provinces.
California (Became law January 1, 2004.)
District of Columbia
Idaho (Bill passed April 12, 2005; will become law
July 1, 2005.)
US Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
There are currently 6 accredited Universities for training Naturopathic Doctors
and they are:
Bastyr University, Kenmore, Wash.
Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM), New Westminster, British
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), Portland, Ore.
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (SCNM), Tempe,
University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM), Bridgeport,
A Note of Warning:
It is important to look into the credentials and training of any ND you might
want to see. There are, unfortunately, correspondence courses that offer no
clinical training, but call their credential an N.D.
However, graduates of these programs are not qualified to provide much more than
some generic consultation -- and they are certainly not an appropriate choice
for a family primary-care physician. The best way to ensure that your
naturopathic physician is qualified is to ask to see their state license (not
In states that don't offer licensing, you can at least verify that they have
gone to one the 6 accredited universities listed above. With the increasing
demand for natural physicians and treatment we can expect to see more state and
provinces supplying licenses.
Health Coverage for Natural/Alternative Therapies
Health insurers in the past have refused to pay for alternative therapies, but
that also is changing as insurers realize they can save money. For example,
natural/holistic treatment might call for exercise, chiropractic, acupuncture,
and/or dietary changes for back pain, while the traditional approach might be
expensive medications and/or surgery that have a failure rate of 50 to 90%
resulting in even higher costs over a patient’s lifetime. Ask the doctor about
insurance coverage, or contact your own insurer. All insurers are cognizant of
the money that can be saved with natural treatments. Private insurers are ones
you can expect to see some reimbursement from. However, government subsidized
health plans provide little if any coverage as these providers are more
influenced by pharmaceutical lobby money.
Washington State, which has licensed naturopaths for almost 20 years, may show
where the trend is heading. The state has more than 600 practitioners who are
used as both complementary and primary care doctors. Also, by that state's law,
insurance is required to cover visits to naturopathic physicians.
You can locate information about Naturopathic Medicine, or find a Naturopathic
Doctor through the following Organizations:
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)
Chiropractic is the second largest healing system in the US and Canada. Today it
is known to be the "non-drug" and "non surgical" alternative to drug and
Chiropractors diagnose and treat back and neck pain and are considered by
definition primary care physicians as they are often the first doctor a patient
will visit when experiencing back pain. Chiropractors, also known as doctors of
chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients whose
health problems are associated with the body's muscular, nervous, and skeletal
systems, especially the spine.
Chiropractors believe interference with these systems impairs normal functions
and lowers resistance to disease. They also hold that spinal or vertebral
dysfunction alters many important body functions by affecting the nervous
system. When the source of pain involves musculoskeletal structures,
chiropractors manually manipulate or adjust the spinal column. Many
chiropractors also use water, light, massage, ultrasound, cold and heat therapy
and may apply supports such as straps, taping and braces.
Often chiropractic treatment is a primary conservative approach that works for
the resolution of back and neck pain, as back and neck pain are often caused by
or result in spinal imbalances. Chiropractic care in this area can produce
excellent results and your doctor is also skilled in evaluating and treating a
host of other issues that may be involved with your back and neck pain causing
The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, stressing the patient's
overall well-being. It recognizes that many factors affect health, including
exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors use natural,
drugless, non surgical health treatments, and rely on the body's inherent
recuperative abilities. They may also counsel patients about wellness concepts
such as nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes, and stress management, but do
not prescribe drugs or perform surgery. When appropriate, chiropractors consult
with and refer patients to other health practitioners, including orthodox
Government inquiries, as well as independent investigations by medical
practitioners, have affirmed that today's chiropractic academic training is of
equivalent standard to medical training in all pre-clinical subjects. High
standards in chiropractic education are maintained by the Council on
Chiropractic Education (CCE) and its Commission on Accreditation, as recognized
by the U.S. Department of Education. Some Chiropractic colleges require a
Bachelor's degree before enrollment.
A doctor of chiropractic's training generally requires a minimum of six years of
college study (two years of which are undergraduate course work) and an
internship prior to entering practice. Postdoctoral training in a variety of
clinical disciplines and specialties is also available through accredited
colleges and specialty councils.
Once accepted to a Chiropractic College the course is structured around a
typical four-year academic schedule. During the first two years, most
chiropractic programs emphasize classroom and laboratory work in basic science
subjects such as anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology,
and biochemistry. The last 2 years stress courses in manipulation and spinal
adjustments, and provide clinical experience in physical and laboratory
diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, and nutrition.
To maintain licensure, almost all US states and Canadian Provinces require
completion of a specified number of hours of continuing education each year.
Accredited chiropractic programs and institutions, and chiropractic associations
offer continuing education programs.
Special councils within some Chiropractic Associations also offer programs
leading to clinical “specialty” certification, called "Diplomate" certification,
in areas such as orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, occupational and
industrial health, nutrition, diagnostic imaging, thermography, and internal
disorders. This would be the equivalent of MD’s moving into Specialty areas of
Find a Chiropractor:
This is a very large database of chiropractors, worldwide. It does not however
provide searches for UK doctors – See the 2nd and 3rd listing for UK doctors
Doctor of Osteopathy (DO)
Osteopathic medicine is one of the two health fields nationally recognized as
complete schools of medicine. Osteopathic Physicians, also known as Doctors of
Osteopathic Medicine or Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) diagnose and treat all
illnesses and injuries and emphasize preventive care, with special emphasis on:
1. The need for the body's systems to be in correct relationship with one
another – a natural holistic view.
2. The importance of the neuro-musculoskeletal system (nerves, muscles, bones,
Treatments commonly include manipulative therapy, medication, and all other
therapies when needed. Osteopathic physicians can be licensed in all 50 states
for the full practice of orthodox medicine. In other words, they are able to
practice exactly as if they were an MD. Most states require licensed DO’s to be
graduates of an approved school of osteopathic medicine and have completed a
12-month internship with an approved orthodox medical hospital program.
In addition to primary care-focused doctors of osteopathy, some DOs can
specialize in an area of medicine (as do some Medical Doctors) and may become
Board Certified by completing a 3 to 4 year residency within the specialty area,
such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, or anesthesiology.
Another word of Warning:
If you are seeking Natural (Holistic) medical care, be sure your DO still
conforms to these treatment practices.
There are Osteopathic doctors now licensed as MD’s that have forsaken their
basic natural (holistic) approaches and now practice medicine in the same manner
as do all orthodox medicine MDs.
Find a Doctor of Osteopathy
As we mention above few DO actually practice natural holistic methods. The
resource provided by HolisticMed.com is one of the best sites we could find, not
only for searches for holistic DOs but for seeking a DO in almost every country.
If you are still unable to find an Osteopath who practices Holistic Medicine, go
to the Directories of Practitioners web page and look instead for a Naturopath,
Chiropractor, Oriental Medicine Doctor, or Ayurvedic Medicine practitioner in
your area. If you were looking for a practitioner of Cranial Osteopathy, but
could not find such a practitioner, go to the
International Association of
Healthcare Practitioners web page and look for a very experienced practitioner
of CranioSacral Therapy. You may need to see their link to course code
definitions on that page to find an experienced practitioner.
In Canada the training is somewhat more "Holistic" at the
Canadian College of
Osteopathy. However, there are no online referral databases. Therefore, you can
use the same steps discussed above for finding an Osteopath experienced with
Holistic Medicine. In addition, you can use the "Write to Us" link at the bottom
of the Canadian College of Osteopathy web page to see if they can provide you
with a list of referrals.
In Europe & Australia, the Osteopaths have much more training in Holistic
Medicine techniques. Numerous online practitioner databases can be found on the
Osteopathy Internet Resources web page. [UNQUOTE]
Other Natural (Holistic) Practitioners:
There are many other areas of holistic treatment for both pain and conditions.
Each area is practiced by professionals within the natural (holistic) model. We
are unable to evaluate them all. But, we again caution you to check out
For instance: Oriental medicine is one such area that also has lengthy and
comprehensive courses required in order that a practitioner is able to claim
they are properly trained, qualified, and able to meet State and Provincial
licensing laws. There are a number of accredited schools providing training in
both Acupuncture and in Herbal Remedy. Acupuncture is without question one of
the most powerful pain-altering modalities in the world. Its reputation for pain
relief is known and respected internationally. It may be practiced successfully
with a variety of procedures other than needles, including lasers, electronic
and noninvasive stimulation devices for those who are needle-phobic and would
not consider acupuncture otherwise.
Word of Mouth Recommendations
After checking licenses and credentials, another excellent method to help choose
your holistic care is often obtained by word of mouth. Patient satisfaction is a
highly credible recommendation method, and much can be learned from such
patients. If you are seeking information about a potential treatment process or
are in need of a specific type of holistic care provider, ask around it won’t
take long to find both a number of people and the names of care providers to add
to your list.
Nature provides a multitude of ways to help correct imbalances and as a result,
there is not one specific way to correct all imbalances for all people. Many
natural holistic therapies take time to produce results, and many demonstrate
results very quickly. For instance: Natural Pain treatments have produced
immediate results for most, but in some cases, they can take several days or
weeks to reach peak efficiency, depending upon the condition being treated.
Natural therapies are gentle help for the body to begin making specific changes,
which are correcting – not masking - problems that took a very long time to
develop. Often when deciding upon the best natural treatment for yourself, like
others, you may end up using more than one form of natural therapy to meet your
All practitioners; Doctors of Naturopathy, Chiropractic, and Osteopathy are
qualified to be your primary care physician and are skilled in a number of
natural treatment modalities. Each is required to participate in a number of
hours of continuing education each year.
Many have also qualified themselves in specific specialized areas of holistic
treatment i.e. diet. As the “Standard American Diet” (SAD) has now been
positively identified as a major contributory factor in the development of all
degenerative disorders (and their accompanying pain) it would be most helpful to
locate a natural physician who specializes in this treatment or has, at a
minimum, completed continuing education in this form of treatment.
In the end, if you decide upon Natural (Holistic) medicine you must be prepared
to make changes within your diet and lifestyle if your doctor’s recommended
“therapies” are to work over the long-term. Premature aging degenerative
conditions did not occur overnight and rebalancing the body, reversing the
damage, and achieving freedom from pain and optimum health will require a
long-term commitment on your part.
back to Top Dr. Deepak Chopra Formerly the Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center,
Dr. Chopra built a successful endocrinology practice in Boston in the 1980's.
His teaching affiliations included Tufts University and Boston University
Schools of Medicine. Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of
Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical
Endocrinologists. Chopra realized in his medical practice that there was
potential in western medicine for the establishment of a new life-giving
paradigm, one which encompassed the fundamental principle that perfect health is
more than just the absence of disease. He began to envision a medical system
based upon the premise that health is a lively state of balance and integration
of body, mind and spirit.
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