Natural medicine is great, but can natural therapies really help with chronic diseases like arthritis or multiple sclerosis?
Many people have the idea that Naturopathic Medicine is simply trying to use natural supplements to replace what pharmaceutical drugs do. This is far from true! Naturopathic Medicine is better defined as a systematic approach to improving a patient’s health by utilizing various therapeutic skill sets. Replacing a drug for a supplement or herb is not naturopathic medicine.
As Naturopathic Doctors, we are trained to intervene in all stages of health because health/quality of life can always be improved upon, regardless of the illness.
For patients suffering from chronic diseases, there are many ways in which naturopathic medicine can be beneficial.
Ways We Intervene
All chronic diseases are accompanied by varying levels of inflammation. While inflammation is naturally needed in the body for healthy responses to occur, too much inflammation only serves to worsen health outcomes. Reducing inflammation can greatly improve pain scores by patients suffering from chronic disease. Naturopathic Doctors have a plethora of modalities to choose from to reduce inflammation. Some of these therapies may include Botanical Medicine, Hydrotherapy, and Laser Therapy.
Sometimes, the simplest and most powerful intervention you can provide for a patient is to educate them about the benefits of the treatment they are doing. For example, the benefit of taking medication regularly, the benefit of undergoing a particular therapy, or providing them with alternatives that can achieve the therapeutic goal and that aligns with other values they have. All of these are incredibly valuable to the patient experience and helps the healthcare system as well as it can improve patient compliance.
Another major part of Naturopathic counseling is helping the patient to organize their care. Sometimes, patients with chronic disease can get overwhelmed with the amount of doctors they have to see. Seeing a specialist is quite common for people with chronic disease. Seeing an ND, we can help the patient navigate instructions from all their doctors and counsel them so that compliance can increase.
Along with helping to manage their other therapies, NDs may provide therapies that other doctors do not. CranioSacral, E-stim, Acupuncture, Cupping, various Hydrotherapies, Laser Therapy, and more. These therapies may not be offered by other providers but can be incredibly beneficial to overall wellness.
Patients with chronic diseases are often on a plethora of medications and these medications often bring severe side effects. These side effects can be life disrupting and lower patient compliance. Naturopathic care can help mitigate these side effects and in so, help improve patient compliance.
Whether acting as a primary or supporting cast for a patient with chronic disease, NDs are well equipped to help patients achieve their therapeutic goals. We may intervene directly by offering a unique therapy, or perhaps our role is more supportive to help a patient navigate their lifestyle with the chronic disease.
Learn more about Naturopathic Medicine.