Naturopathic Principles: Doctor as Teacher and Disease Prevention
Written by Chantelle van der Weyden BPsych (Hons), AdvDip(Nat), AdvDip(NutMed)
Welcome to a special instalment of numbers 5 and 6 of our naturopathic philosophies series.
The fifth principle is Doctor as Teacher (docere).
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease” (Thomas Edison, 1847-1931).
‘Doctor’ stems from the Latin word docere, which means ‘to teach’. One of the primary roles of naturopathic and natural health practitioners is to educate their patients on the factors – nutrition, exercise, sleep, social connection, spiritual wellbeing, the surrounding environment – that influence health and disease.
The therapeutic relationship takes a patient centred approach, and thus the focus of the consult is on the patient and how and why they ended up with their specific symptoms, rather than the diagnosis itself. The role of the practitioner then becomes to guide the patient in the direction of healthy lifestyle choices and changes that will lead them toward an amelioration of symptoms. This then sees the patient take responsibility for their health, and allows for some level of control over their symptoms. This understanding by the patient determines long term health and wellness.
This principle lends itself to the sixth principle, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (preventare), which are front of mind of natural health practitioners. Here, we see our role as proactive in supporting and maintaining health, rather than being reactive to disease processes. While diseases processes may be treated by medical professionals, the natural health practitioner’s role becomes one of facilitating awareness and educating the patient on how to support their health to slow the progression of disease. Where there is no disease process at play, the natural health practitioner can educate the patient so as to encourage a healthy lifestyle, with the goal of optimal wellness and future disease prevention.
Catch up on the previous instalments of our naturopathic principles series and other blogs here. And be sure to join us next month for the final blog of the series.