I Am A Naturopathic Medical Doctor Caring For My Patients During This Pandemic
As a naturopathic medical doctor, I was told by my profession early on in the pandemic that “All healthcare providers should refrain from making health claims or proclamations about a “cure” or product that can “prevent” or successfully treat COVID-19. There are currently no nutrients, botanicals, pills, lozenges or other prescription or over the counter products available to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 specifically”. They also advised naturopathic doctors to follow public health guidelines, and standard preventive medicine protocols, including basic naturopathic and lifestyle protocols that can support the immune system and mitigate the risk of exposure to infectious diseases.
I agree with the above assertions. As COVID-19 is a novel virus, this means there has been very little proven research with this particular virus. However, we are learning a lot about how this virus works and how it can cause quite a lot of harm to a number of individuals. Most medical doctors and the profession of conventional medicine look to pharmaceuticals, a major arsenal in their tool bag to treat and help their patients. As a naturopathic physician, I don’t want to shy away from using the tools I have been trained in and have been using successfully to help patients over the last 17 years I have been in practice. As a primary care naturopathic medical doctor in Idaho, there are recommendations I can make based on experience and also looking at the science behind the disease process of this current pandemic and on extrapolating research on botanical extracts and neutraceuticals which have already been learned on similar viruses to the COVID-19. I believe in embracing the founding principles of naturopathic medical practice during this time of disruption and uncertainty and I see this as an essential service to the community in which I deeply care about.
“I believe in embracing the founding principles of naturopathic medical practice during this time of disruption and uncertainty and I see this as an essential service to the community in which I deeply care about.”
Naturopathic Practice Defined:
Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and therapeutic modalities: clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic physical medicine (including naturopathic manipulative therapy), public health measures, hygiene, counseling, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth).
The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae):
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam):
The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere):
Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
•Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
•Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
•Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere):
Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person:
Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
I, as do most naturopathic doctors, believe in the healing power of nature – that we need to identify obstacles and weaknesses in each person to stimulate the innate healing ability in the body to fight off viral infections. We treat the whole person on all levels including helping to “deal” with the stress this pandemic is having on us economically, physically and emotionally. This stress will certainly have an effect on our immune system and we must strive to find ways to balance and handle these daily extreme stressors so that our immune systems remain optimal.
We need to treat the cause – don’t suppress the symptoms of your body fighting this virus. An example of this would be bringing down a fever unnecessarily. Unless your fever gets too high, a fever is an important part of your functioning immune system, and lowering your temperature hinders your white blood cells and immune system from doing it’s job properly. There are many steps we can take to become healthier and stronger to improve the terrain. This is what prominent naturopathic doctor Michael Murray, ND describes in what he calls “The Infection Equations”. In the infection equations, the interaction of the host’s immune system with the infecting organism determines the equation’s outcome. Weak Immune System + Highly Infectious Virus = Severe Disease. Strong Immune System + Highly Infectious Virus = Less Severe to No Disease.
What measures can we take to decrease the likelihood of developing viral pneumonia, cytokine storm and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and death. Let us use time honered naturopathic principles and techniques to better our terrain and increase our fighting chance. With a new wave of the pandemic hitting our area hard, let’s be pro-active, and do what we can to decrease contracting the virus, and decreasing our own personal and loved one’s chances of developing ARDS and severe disease.