As I promised on an earlier post, here is an explanation of the difference between a Homeopathic Doctor (Homeopath) and a Naturopathic Doctor (Naturopath). I am neither of these, by the way, so why am I writing this? Well, because I sometimes prescribe Homeopathic remedies, and because I am a practitioner who recommends natural foods and supplements, people assume I am one or the other (or both — now that’s impressive. Perhaps I should just nod and smile ). Anyhow, here goes:
A Homeopath is someone who has a degree in Homeopathy. Homeopathy is a form of medicine that dates back to 200 years ago when Dr. Samuel Hahnemann discovered that if ingesting or coming in contact with a particular substance, say a plant, caused certain symtpoms in a person, if he gave that person that very same plant but in tiny diluted doses, it would trigger the body’s natural system of healing and those symtoms would disappear. This is based on the principle of “Like cures like.” For example, if someone got poison ivy, they’d be given a diluted dose (sometimes in thousand or even million dilutions) of poison ivy and those symptoms would go away. This is an over-simplification; in reality, if 2 people got the same diagnosis but exhibited different physical and/or emotional symptoms, they would be prescribed different remedies, one that matched most appropriately to the person, rather than to the diagnosis. Scientifically it can’t be explained exactly how homeopathy works, but we know that is does work. Frankly, although I am a person who can’t stand hokey, wacky treatments masquerading as medicine, I can assure you that homeopathy does not fall into that category. When you see it work, as I have seen, even in my own children – on fevers, insect bites, insomnia, even stuttering, trust me you’ll become a beleiver too. Now, I’m not saying it’s a cure-all, especially since there are literally hundreds of remedies and sometimes finding the most appropriate one is very difficult. There are also many illnesses that I don’t beleive Homeopathy can cure, and it certainly can’t help a person’s poor nutritional habits. That being said, it would still work to releive some of the symptoms, assuming you had the help of an experienced practitioner. Homeopathy can be safely used alongside conventional medicines and will not interfere with the action of medicines prescribed by your doctor. Because homeopathic medicines are non-toxic, there are no side effects and they are safe even for pregnant women and infants.
True proponents of Homeopathy believe in using one remedy at a time, and if the symptom picture changes or that remedy doesn’t work, they move on to the next. There are several companies, however, that make combination remedies for the average layperson to use based on the specific problem. If you go to a health food store, you’ll find many formulas for different ailments – if you’ve ever used Camilia for your baby’s teething pain, you’ve used a combination homeopathic remedy. As well, practitioners like myself will sometimes prescribe specialty combination homeopathic remedies to releive symptoms and speed up the healing process, without having to try several remedies to see which one works.
A lot easier to explain, Naturopaths are doctors of naturopathic medicine. They attend a 4 year medical school for alternative medicine and learn a variety of different ways to diagnose and treat medical problems, all using natural methods such as diet, ayurvedic medicine (a system of medicine originating in India), botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine, which includes Chinese herbs and acupuncture. Think of them as the “Jack of all trades” of alternative medicine. The benefit to this is they know a variety of ways to treat a person and can also perform diagnostic tests that require drawing blood; the disadvantage is it can sometimes be very confusing when you are prescribed many different modalities of treatment.
So, as you see, there is some overlap in both fields, as well as my field of Holistic Nutrition, but next time you enter in a conversation about natural medicine and some of the different types of practitioners, you’ll feel incredibly smart and knowledgable.