Which Alternative Health Therapies work best with Massage? Topic #3: Naturopathic Medicine

acupuncture_chart_7530428481Perhaps you have heard of Naturopathic medicine or are a patient who has a Naturopathic doctor. In this post we will take a look at Naturopathic medicine and how it complements (and actually includes in it’s list of modalities, massage therapy). The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges define Naturopathy as “…a traditional approach to health that is holistic, meaning that it encompasses the whole being. It is based on natural and preventative care. Naturopathic medicine combines many methodologies, such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustment, homeopathy and herbal cures, along with sensible concepts such as good nutrition, exercise and relaxation techniques.”

Education and perceptions of an MD vs. an ND
Because Naturopathic medicine is still considered “alternative” healthcare in the United States and falls under the CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine) category, some might assume that the education and training that Naturopathic doctors undergo is less stringent than a traditional western MD, but that is not the case. Accredited ND. member schools require 4 years of medical training after the student has earned his or her Bachelors degree. Students are educated in all of the same basic sciences as a traditional MD In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the Naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine and counseling. And, similarly to a traditional MD, ND’s also complete 2 years of an Internship program in a clinical setting.

Similar to an MD, an ND is able to do standard and specialized Lab testing, prescribe herbs, supplements and some pharmaceuticals.

Now that we understand how an MD and an ND are similar, let’s look at the differences
An MD’s training is focused more on treating illness by controlling the disease process with more aggressive pharmaceutical and surgical strategies.

An ND’s training is focused on treating and eventually preventing illness by strengthening and stimulating the body’s natural defense and repair systems. This allows your body to do what comes natural–heal itself.

The pharmaceutical treatments and surgeries that an MD is trained in can be necessary and life saving, but from the Naturopathic perspective, many health conditions can be resolved and harmful side effects from employing more aggressive treatments avoided by using more conservative natural therapies. An ND cannot perform surgeries or prescribe pharmaceuticals that an MD is able to do. MD’s on the other hand, are not  educated regarding herbal medicine, nutrition, metabolic or bodywork therapies.

How does Massage Therapy complement the use of an ND for medicine?
Part of the education of an ND is the knowledge and study of massage therapy. Because massage therapy helps the body heal itself through the stimulation of the Parasympathetic nervous system, stress reduction, circulation and immunity enhancement, pain reduction, and much more, many ND’s refer patients to massage therapy as a useful tool in thier arsenal of natural healing. By visiting a massage therapist on a regular basis, the body can remain in balance for longer, and be able to recover from physical and emotional stresses better and faster, which in turn enables the body to heal and perform better on a day to day basis.



Saying goodbye to 2012: looking forward to 2013


4137262610_2243943324_bJanuary got its name from the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, who was quite literally two faced — one face gazing forward, the other looking back. This seems particularly apt for the year 2012, which seemed to be a year of dualities. On one hand, the US economy seemed helplessly stuck in low gear, the country was bitterly politically divided, and the months were peppered with horrific violent attacks in places most believed safe. On the other hand, there was news of the real estate market coming back online, unemployment rates leveling out and in some areas dropping, and there were significant political victories for disenfranchised communities such as LBGT. The 2012 election also saw a historic number of females filling Senate seats. All in all, it felt a lot like what one hand gave, the other took away in 2012.

Forget about New Years Resolutions for 2013
Looking forward to 2013, it feels as though the upswing the country was feeling in terms of economic growth and changes in political winds are just beginning their forward momentum, but what about our health and wellness goals? Health insurance costs keep climbing, and “Obamacare” is not yet fully released to take care of the uninsured, so in the coming year, it is crucial to plan ahead to insure your health goals are met.

Instead of making that same tired New Year’s resolution, The Boston Globe has a great article about the practical and real-life ways to hit your wellness targets full of no-nonsense tips that make every day actions matter, from taking full advantage of your doctors visits to ditching fad diets.

Just like the Roman god Janus, the beginning of the year is a natural time to look back and begin to look forward. If you feel the impulse to change something in your life, make sure you give yourself time, compassion and keep your sense of humor–remember, Rome was’nt built in a day!