Conventional VS Naturopathic Medicine

Have you ever wondered what some of the core differences are between a conventional and naturopathic doctor? Did you know that naturopathic doctors use many of the same tools to diagnose conditions but simply differ on how they may treat and manage their patients?

During my practice management class a few days ago, I was presented with this comparison chart and thought it was a great way to directly compare both medical models.
Conventional medical model
Naturopathic medical model

1. Human beings as individual parts (Biomedical model)

2. Dualism (mind and body seen as separate & individuals seen as separate from their environment)

3. Assessment includes:
- Medical intake
- Conventional Physical Exam
- Laboratory testing, as required
- Diagnosis is categorical (what the body is doing)

4. Treatment philosophy:
- Treat the bug
- Fix / remove / control / manage the part / system that is broken
- Symptom Management
- Reliance on pharmaceuticals

“What do you take?”

1. Human beings as complex dynamic systems

2. Holism (all parts are integrated and integrated with their environment)

3. Assessment includes:
- Patient’s subjective experience
- Holistic intake
- Conventional Physical Exam
- Naturopathic Physical Exam
- Laboratory testing, as required
- Diagnosis is explanatory (causal factors and physiological outcomes)

4. Treatment philosophy:
- Treat the individual
- Remove obstacles to cure and stimulate inherent healing
- Treat the cause
- Multiple treatment options

“What do you change?”

On top of the varying differences in assessments and treatment philosophies, the last line of each table, "What do you take?" and "What do you change" struck me the most. I believe this is a simple way to show how NDs may stand out from conventional medical treatments. It is so important to recognize that your health isn't up to anyone else but yourself and that being healthy and happy may require you to alter how you live your life. NDs work at the same level as their patients while guiding them to a more desirable state of health and wellness.

All comparisons aside, I wonder what would happen if both of these models came together to treat and manage patients as a whole? Integrative health care is the direction things are headed and some doctors are already onboard. The Cancer Treatment Centres of America are great examples of integrative health care. Each centre has a wide array of health care professionals including MDs, NDs, chiropractors and registered dieticians all working together to give cancer patients a more complete and whole-person treatment protocol. Patients enter the clinic and receive care from each medical professional who are all working together under one roof. The patient doesn't even have to leave their treatment room, the doctors rotate around them! This is the ultimate form of patient centred treatment and really simplifies the process. Patients can come to one place and get everything done at once, eliminating a lot of running around to various appointments and disconnect between practitioners. I for one am really excited to one day be part of such a great way of practicing medicine.

What are your thoughts on this? Please leave a question or comment!

Jamie Smellie


Table taken from Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND's lecture during practice management NMS 310 at the canadian college of naturopathic medicine.


James M said...

But what if they have a bacterial infection - doesn't the "What do you take?" question have a bit more value?

Jamie Smellie said...

Great question James! These statements are not meant to be taken literally. Surely even an ND would give their patient something to "take" if they had any sort of infection. This was merely to shed light on some of the core differences in treatment philosophies behind each medical model.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh that totally makes sense. Great post Jamie

mitchellejohnson said...

Great blog...
I like very much this.The comparison is very very good to see.The good comparison is explained here.I like very much.

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