Thursday, March 13, 2008

Naturopathic medicine

Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy) is a complementary and alternative medicine. Naturopathic practice may include different modalities such as manual therapy, hydrotherapy, herbalism, acupuncture, counseling, environmental medicine, aromatherapy, orthomolecular medicine, nutritional counseling, homeopathy, and chiropractic. Practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care. Naturopathy has its origins in a variety of world medicine practices, including the Ayurveda Nature Cure of Europe. It is practiced in many countries but subject to different standards of regulation and levels of acceptance.
Naturopathic practitioners prefer not to use invasive surgery, or most synthetic drugs, preferring "natural" remedies, for instance relatively unprocessed or whole medications, such as herbs and foods. Practitioners from accredited schools are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment. If the patient does not respond to these treatments, they are often referred to physicians who utilize standard medical care to treat the disease or condition.
Naturopathic practitioners find it difficult to obtain financing for research due to the lack of prior research in many areas and the fact that whole substances from nature, such as herbs, cannot be patented and are therefore not a profitable investment. Proponents claim that this is slowly changing as naturopathic physicians develop research programs to help build up a foundation for evidence based treatment.
Naturopathic modalities may be controversial (e.g. homeopathy, which several studies have indicated to be ineffective), or have proven effectiveness only for very specific conditions (eg: acupuncture, aromatherapy). Some of these modalities and remedies are known to be harmful if not used properly or under the care of a trained practitioner

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