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What is alternative medicine? Is it the same as naturopathic?

woman undergoing acupuncture treatment on face

Alternative medicine term was created by the medical doctors who practice conventional methods. In a way, it is meant to diminish the significance and validity of the Natural Western medicine.

As a matter-of-fact, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) treats patient with the Eastern medicine beliefs and methods known for centuries. While conventional medicine claimed naturopathic treatments are fake and lack scientific evidence, this is not true. The power and effectiveness of the Eastern medicine is absolutely undoubtful. Nowadays even the biggest scientific disbelievers recognize that top naturopathic medicine alternative methods work great, and do not carry many side effect of pharmacological drugs.

The biggest difference of Eastern medicine is taking a body, mind and energy as a whole being. I like to compare that to a bio-machine principle, where mind is a computer that is connected to body parts by wires (meridians) and it runs on energy (just like electricity). There is no doubt that such approach is much more effective in understanding and treatment of diseases and health problems. That is why most patients use Natural Medicine as the better choice.


Which methods natural medicine uses?

Here are some diagnostic procedures:

  1. Pulse diagnosis
  2. Body energetics (hot and cold, meridians and active points)
  3. Iris-diagnostics changes
  4. Tongue examination (reflects the gut health)
  5. Kinesiology (muscle tone)
  6. Mind health assessment

History asked in naturopathic clinic is more focused on events, emotions and experiences of the person rather than direct questions about infectious exposures and symptoms. The methods of treatment then are also different with a focus of brining deficiencies or excessiveness of fluids/energy back to balance.

What are natural medicine practice beliefs?

Alternative health care dried various Chinese herbs in wooden bo

There are many natural medicine concepts that are similar in various traditional medicine schools. The most known teachings are:

  • Chinese medicine
  • Indian medicine
  • Tibet medicine
  • Korean medicine

For example, a key concepts of Ayurveda naturalist medicine include universal connectedness (among people, their health, and the universe), the body’s state (prakriti), and life energy (dosha). Ayurveda physicians prescribe herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations. Very often principle of diagnosis and healing remind of Chinese medicine, as they share many similar believes.

What kind of training do Natural Doctors get?

Acupuncture needles and textbook

For many years Conventional medicine tried to undermine all-natural medicines, claiming that these methods have no validity. Meanwhile millions of people see natural doctors and have excellent results, even when conventional medicine is helpless. It is sad that most of the conventional doctors do not even want to learn about ancient practices that have been mastered for centuries. Each of the Natural Medicines has a well-defined structured school of medicines that has centuries of knowledge. Doctors who practice a certain medicine type are obligated to study for many years, just like a conventional medical student.

First, they learn all about theory of the health and disease. Then they start learning skills of all-natural methods, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation, diet, and medical massage. Then they become apprentice at the accredited center or a single practitioner with experience. Natural doctors never stop learning – they believe that personalized medicine requires constant mastering of skills and knowledge.

What is naturopathy?

tower black stone and hibiscus with bamboo on the water

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine can be trained in the Eastern medical schools, can be a trainee of specific entity (Tibetan Monastery), or Chinese traditional medical schools. Training period may range from 3-4 years for acupuncturist to 10-15 years or true Mater of Chinese or Tibetan medicine.

Recently US developed Board of Naturopathic Medicine Certification – the meaning and significance is still controversial. Many practitioners believe it to be an attempt to qualify Western physicians with limited Chinese medicine knowledge to practice popular trends without needed knowledge.

What are naturopathic treatments?

Naturopathic treatments are designed to align the body energy flow which in turn would naturally fix the problem and return you to health, or the balance. These include acupuncture, herbal remedies, energy healing, meditation, mind training, body cleanse, medical massage, diet changes and exercise.

Functional vs natural doctor

There are rare Western physicians who are also fully trained in Eastern medicine and can combine diagnostics and treatment – the best from both worlds. These doctors are call Integrative or Functional and usually specialize on some areas of expertise, such as chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal or immune problems.

Complementary and alternative medicine treats all diseases and conditions – it is great, and it regards the whole body and treats the whole reason why someone is sick – not just symptoms. We believe it is just a personal preference of a person to see one or another practitioner.

Some people never go to regular doctor – they prefer naturopathic family medicine clinics and practitioners, and willing to drive long distance to see them. We highly recommend finding a naturopathic center with great practitioners. Go for it!

How do alternative clinics work?

Alternative medicine clinics are very popular. So, a good respected clinic might be booked few months in advance. Single practitioners tend to have very limited clientele and do not advertise much, depending on word of mouth. Indeed, you might find top naturopathic medicine practitioners that do not speak English language at al. How do they do it? Very simple – they rely on body exam and energy points. The medical examination might immediately trigger treatment – so without much words you just suddenly feel better!

Large naturopathic clinics have all sort of practitioners – massage specialists (who offer a certain type of healing, such as lymphatic drainage, reflexology, or Thai massage), kinesiologists (they work with diseases through muscle manipulation), acupuncturists, herbalists and nutritionists. Usually, clinics are run by a Natural Doctor or Functional Doctor (MD with education in natural medicine). These clinics are different from chiropractor clinics.

What is a center for alternative medicine?

Woman having massage in the spa salon

Center for alternative medicine may have many different practitioners who excel in just one type of treatment. There is usually a Master of medicine, diagnoses the patient and prescribes certain treatment plan. There are internationally known Centers in all parts of the world where various conditions are treated, or people just looking for rejuvenation and longevity of life. Tibetan monasteries, sacred places in India, Burma are some of the examples of the amazing healing centers.

Doctor of naturopathic medicine can be of Asian, European of American descent – that does not matter. But the place where they got trained matters the most – some traditions of treatment are kept and passed from Master to apprentices since 12th century!!!