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Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Six principles guide Naturopathic Medicine

1. First, do no harm. The sentiment behind this first principle is common to the philosophy of all licensed healthcare practitioners in the United States. It may be more accurate to say that the goal is to maximize benefit and minimize harm. For example, a blood draw may cause the pain of the needle-stick and possible bruising, but the benefit and guidance from the resulting lab information is worth that risk in many cases. Also, sometimes when the diagnosis is not clear at the beginning, it is not possible to know the exact risks and benefits of different choices up front, so the best we can do is make both what we do and don't know as clear as possible and choose the next step together. Dr. Jessica sees respecting the autonomy of patient's choices in their health care as a facet of doing no harm, and emphasizing listening to make sure she understands patient perspectives and experience is foundational to respecting autonomy and to doing no harm.

2. Support the healing power of nature. Under the right circumstances, all biological creatures have an innate natural healing capacity. For example, upon getting a cold, most people can heal fairly quickly with no intervention besides extra rest. If it is taking longer for you to heal from a cold or you are getting them more frequently, you may be missing some key nutrients that your immune system needs or perhaps there is another obstacle to the innate healing capacity of your body bringing you back to balance. We will look for what is needed to support your natural healing process.

3. Identify and treat the causes. All doctors are seeking to do this, and it is part of seeking to do the most good and the least harm in the treatment of patients. Identifying the cause means seeking to make the most accurate diagnosis possible. There is a significant overlap in diagnostic and treatment training between Naturopathic doctors and conventional Medical doctors, and there are also some important differences. The main difference is that given many particular diagnoses, Naturopathic doctors are more likely to see lifestyle and nutritional factors as important factors in contributing to the development of the disease and essential to include in the treatment, and Naturopathic doctors are also more likely to recommend particular vitamins, herbs, supplements, or lifestyle practices as part of treatment.

4. Doctor as teacher.This includes educating about the risks and benefits of various choices in healthcare. In Dr. Jessica's philosophy, being the best teacher she can be also involves being an avid learner, including being a student of you as the expert of your life and health experiences and how you respond to the various ideas and treatments we work with over time. This education going in both directions supports individual autonomy in health care.

5. Treat the whole person. This includes treating the physical body, exploring and supporting healthy mental and emotional patterns, encouraging practices that connect individuals to greater meaning and purpose or soulful/spiritual practices, and supporting greater community health and connection.

6. Prevention. Dr. Jessica sees an emphasis on prevention in medicine as the best foundation of health and an embodiment of all four key medical ethics values common in healthcare professions: autonomy, justice, beneficience (intention for good), non-maleficience (do no harm). Prevention supports everyone's longest term health, is likely to be less costly over time, and works in alignment with doing the most good and the least harm.

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