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The Differences between Homeopathic and Naturopathic Medicine

Homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine are not the same. Both are considered holistic approaches to medical care. They both work to uncover the root cause of illness and they are based on supporting the body’s natural ability to heal. However, naturopathic physicians take a much broader approach to diagnosing and treating illness than any single medicine.  


Homeopathic Medicine Is Very Specific

It is based on a single philosophy of “like cures like.” Homeopaths focus on understanding your symptoms and matching them with remedies that create a similar effect when taken by healthy individual. The reasoning behind this is that taking the substance that causes the same symptoms will help the body reach an energetic balance. This balance will allow the body "heal itself."

By prescribing a preparation that will produce the same symptoms as your illness, homeopathic doctors are working to stimulate your body’s own natural ability to fight the illness. Preparations are made from many different herbs and minerals; some of which are toxic.  Homeopathic medicines are specially formulated and diluted until there is no physical aspect of the substance left. In this way you avoid any toxic side effects that would otherwise result from some of these toxic substances. What you are left with is the energetic effects of the substance to have an effect on the body.

Therefore, a consultation with a homeopath centers on exploration of the details of your symptoms, because conditions such as a headache or stomach ache present differently in each individual and the doctor needs to determine which preparation(s) will be most effective in each case. Homeopathic doctors are not trained in Western medicine, so they do not conduct physical exams, lab tests or other diagnostic procedures. True homeopathic doctors will focus on trying to find your constitutional remedy that will help you with all your ailments not just the prevailing problem at the time. A constitutional remedy is one that is specific to your personality, your ailments, and the unique ways that they prsent themselves in you.

In some senses, homeopathic medicine can be viewed as similar to Western medicine, which also focuses on treating symptoms.  However, conventional medicine typically uses pharmaceuticals and invasive physical techniques for treatment and the use of homeopathic medicine is focused on the root energetic cause of the problem.

Naturopathic Medicine Considers Your Whole Body

A naturopathic doctor is trained in both Western and Eastern medicine, combining them in a holistic “big picture” approach. The focus is on wellness. Naturopathic medicine is based on 5 tenets:

  • Healing power of nature

  • First do no harm

  • Doctor as teacher
  • Find the cause

  • Treat the whole person

  • Prevention

To get at the root cause of illness, naturopathic doctors tend to spend more time with patients exploring the background of symptoms, trouble shooting what has been done, genetics and family history, environmental and emotional tressors to get a full picuture. They look for possible imbalances or deficiencies that can be corrected to restore good health using non-invasive alternatives and medications based on natural products.

Each treatment regimen is then custom-tailored to the patient, and may include supplements such as vitamins and minerals or other dietary modifications, herbal medicine, physical therapy, acupuncture, nutrition, lifestyle modifications or even pharmaceutical medicines. The underlying principle of stimulating self-healing is similar to homeopathic philosophy, which is why many naturopathic doctors include homeopathic remedies in their range of treatment options.

Naturopathic physicians attend a four-year naturopathic medical school, studying the same range of basic and clinical science courses as conventional MDs. However, they also study holistic and non-toxic treatment alternatives including clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, herbal medicine, natural childbirth, psychology and counseling.

After graduation, they must pass difficult professional board examinations to practice medicine. Some will continue training and complete residency training under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor or other board certified physician.

Unlike many states, where licensing laws don’t exist and almost anyone can call themselves a “naturopathic doctor,” Arizona has distinct licensing regulations for both homeopaths and naturopathic physicians. Homeopaths are licensed by the Board of Homeopathic and Integrated Medical Examiners. Naturopaths are licensed by the Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board and can serve as your primary care family practice physician.  Similar licensing exists in 17 states and the Distric of Columbia.  Some naturopathic doctors have practice focuses like physical medicine, hormone therapy, genetics, cardiovascular disease, or oncology. 


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