By Dr. Ellen Lewis: There has never been a time in human history without medicine. The Hippocratic Oath was written in Greece in the 5th century BCE. Ancient Egyptians were aware of the importance of good nutrition and hygiene; in the Middle Ages, frequent wars created “barbers” such as Theodoric of Lucca, who said, “Every day we see new methods to remove arrows being invented by clever and ingenious surgeons.” The rest of the populace didn’t always fare so well.
Modern medicine began in the 19th century, as we began to understand germs, diseases, and microbiology (thank you, Louis Pasteur!) Today, global health relies on sophisticated laboratory tests to indicate levels of health and disease. Both allopathic (or conventional) physicians and naturopathic doctors share a desire to restore health as quickly as possible. Rather than making a choice between traditional and naturopathic medicine, today’s physician makes use of all appropriate therapies, working in tandem with a health care team to find the best modality to heal their patients.
Conventional medicine is excellent for crisis-driven care, where the risk of side effects is overridden by the need for rapid intervention. What seems like “miracle” drugs has encouraged a focus on suppressing symptoms, rather than supporting a healthy body, mind and spirit, which is the goal of naturopathic care. You have only to listen to the warnings in any pharmaceutical commercial to know that chemicals can do as much harm as good.
Naturopathic medicine is its own distinct primary care profession. Although we also rely on science-based laboratory tests to direct our efforts to heal, the growth of naturopathic medicine in the 21st century reflects a desire for a whole body approach to health. Our medical tools include an emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle, and an examination of the body’s micronutrient levels, such as fatty acids, enzymes, and anti-oxidants.
If you want to live a long life filled with vitality, I hope you’ll visit me here. I’ll be writing in this space every month, sharing ideas for how you can maximize your health, and make the best health care choices. I want you to feel fabulous!