These days, many people are increasingly looking for integrative, holistic approaches to their health. They are looking for whole-body diagnosis, treatment, and prevention plans encompassing cross-discipline modalities that, quite frankly, can no longer be provided by the siloed single-specialty practices of old. Naturopathic medicine, with its focus on prevention, low-impact natural therapies, and the innate self-healing processes of the body, offers a compelling addition to an interdisciplinary approach to care.
While the full list of factors driving the collaboration between naturopathic and medical or osteopathic doctors is a long one, please read on for five key reasons these partnerships are growing in popularity across the country.
1. The Whole-Body Approach
The list of factors that can influence your health is nearly endless. Ranging from diet, lifestyle, and socioeconomic status to genetics, spiritual health, and the environment, nearly everything about who you are, what you do, and where you do it has the potential to promote–or destroy–overall health. Naturopathic doctors are trained to spend the time required to truly suss out the myriad relationships between this laundry list of complicating factors and a patient’s health. This is invaluable for a medical or osteopathic physician who has not honed the same skill set over the course of their training.
2. Clinical Nutrition at the Forefront
We are seeing an explosion in focus on nutrition as it relates to overall health unlike anything seen in past decades. As patients increasingly emphasize the quality and sustainability of their food from farm to table and seek to strike the requisite balance of their individual needs, the nutritional expertise of a naturopathic doctor will become even more invaluable. On average, a naturopathic physician will spend 155 classroom hours on nutrition education, which dwarfs the time spent in MD or DO programs. Their experience providing evidence-based, individualized nutritional assessments and planning; supplementation; and deploying nutritional technology is truly unrivaled among peer physicians.
3. Individualized Care
Naturopathic doctors are specifically trained to reject a one-size-fits-all approach to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Instead, naturopathic doctors approach each patient as an individual with their own mixture of genetic, behavioral, and environmental risk factors. This focus on the patient as an individual allows naturopathic doctors to develop tailored treatment plans customized to achieve an individual’s goals.
4. Prevalence of Natural Therapies
Because of their whole-body, individualized approach to diagnosis and treatment, naturopathic doctors rely on natural therapies to a much greater extent than their counterparts. While naturopathic doctors are able to prescribe prescription medications, they do so only as a last resort; instead, they first focus on removing obstacles to harnessing the body’s ability to self-heal. This natural approach offers a valuable alternative to traditional medical treatment approaches, making NDs invaluable to practice seeking to offer a truly holistic approach to health.
5. Integrative Fluency
Due to the diverse, multi-disciplinary training in complementary therapeutic modalities that naturopathic doctors received in medical schools, they know better than most when and how to deploy integrative approaches during diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. By incorporating seemingly disparate treatment modalities like herbal medicine, nutritional counseling, acupuncture, mind-body medicine, and orthobiologics, naturopathic doctors can reject the siloed approach to treatment and define treatment plans that draw from many different disciplines. Furthermore, if necessary, a naturopathic doctor can refer to physicians with knowledge and experience outside of their expertise.
In short, medical and osteopathic doctors are increasingly partnering with naturopathic doctors because NDs have a specialized skill set, honed through their education and training, that allows them to offer patients a holistic approach to treatment unlike that which an MD or DO can offer on their own. The naturopathic focus on the whole body, nutrition, individualized care, natural therapies, and integrative fluency is a truly unique offering that practitioners across the country are increasingly finding invaluable to their practices, a realization which is helping drive the trend of collaboration across disciplines.