Naturopathic medicine has been described as any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula taught in the United States and Britain.
A major objection to naturopathic medicine is that it is done in place of conventional medical treatments. As long as naturopathic treatments are used alongside conventional treatments, the majority of medical doctors find most forms of complementary medicine acceptable.
Advocates of naturopathic medicine hold that naturopathic medicine may provide health benefits through patient empowerment, by offering more choices to the public, including treatments that are simply not available in conventional medicine.
Advocates of naturopathic medicine hold that the various naturopathic treatment methods are effective in treating a wide range of major and minor medical conditions, and contend that recently published research proves the effectiveness of specific naturopathic treatments.
Although advocates of naturopathic medicine acknowledge that the placebo effect may play a role in the benefits that some receive from naturopathic therapies, they point out that this does not diminish their validity. Researchers who judge treatments using the scientific method are concerned by this viewpoint, since it fails to address the possible inefficacy of naturopathic treatments.
If a naturopathic medical approach, initially regarded as untested, is subsequently shown to be safe and effective, it may then be adopted by conventional practitioners and no longer considered naturopathic.
It is advisable for patients to inform their medical doctor when they are using naturopathic medicine, because some naturopathic treatments may interact with orthodox medical treatments, and such potential conflicts should be explored in the interest of the patient. However, many conventional practitioners are biased or uninformed about naturopathics, and patients are often reluctant to share this information with their medical doctors since they fear it will hurt their doctor-patient relationship.
Most Americans who consult naturopathic providers would probably jump at the chance to consult a physician who is well trained in scientifically based medicine and who is also open-minded and knowledgeable about the bodys innate mechanisms of healing, the role of lifestyle factors in influencing health, and the appropriate uses of dietary supplements, herbs, and other forms of treatment, from osteopathic manipulation to Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
People want competent help in navigating the confusing maze of therapeutic options that are available today, especially in those cases in which conventional approaches are relatively ineffective or harmful.
Naturopathic medicine practices are often based in belief systems not derived from modern science. Naturopathic medicines may therefore incorporate spiritual, metaphysical, or religious underpinnings, untested practices, non-Western medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing.
The issue of naturopathic medicine interfering with conventional medical practices is minimized when it is turned to only after conventional treatments have been exhausted. Many patients feel that naturopathic medicine may help in coping with chronic illnesses for which conventional medicine offers no cure, only management. Over time, it has become more common for a patients own MD to suggest naturopathics when they cannot offer effective treatment.