Today's Portland Tribune article, Paging Dr. Alternative, puts the spotlight on naturopathic medicine and it's use in primary care. Primary care is the ideal setting for a naturopathic physician as we are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of both acute and chronic illnesses. We utilize laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging (x-rays, CT's, MRI's, etc.) and our clinical findings to come to the same diagnosis that a medical doctor might make. We are just trained to look at things a bit differently, according to naturopathic philosophy, and to utilize an expanded tool belt.
The naturopathic tool belt includes herbs, diet, exercise therapies, manual therapies (manipulations, massage, and other physical techniques), homeopathy and yes, pharmaceutical prescriptions when needed. The latest additions to our formulary (the list of drugs that we are approved to prescribe in the state or Oregon), mentioned in the above cited article, are important not only so that we are able to practice primary care and prescribe common pharmaceuticals, but also so that we are legally able to take patients off of medications when they transfer their care to us. Prior to the latest formulary changes, we could only take patients off of medications that we were legally authorized to prescribe.
It's exciting to see naturopathic medicine in the news. Keep your eyes open for information about how naturopaths will be included in health care reform efforts.