We’ve covered four of the six fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine so far. Now, we turn to the fifth (according to our own order, not that of the AANP House of Delegates Position Paper).
Anyway, here’s what that document has to say about this post’s subject:
“Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.”
Doctor-Patient Relationship and Patient Education
The limitation of the term “doctor” to indicate practitioners within the various disciplines of the medical field is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the academic world even today, “doctor” signifies what it originally meant, going back to its Latin source: teacher. In fact, the ancient Latin word for medical doctor is “medicus.”
Anyway, to be a doctor – in any discipline – is, firstly and fundamentally, to be a teacher of that discipline. Naturopathy highlights this aspect of a physician’s work, seeing the sharing of knowledge and wisdom as paramount among a practitioner’s duties.
This aspect of “doctor as teacher” flows from the doctor-patient relationship. The very fact that the doctor is envisioned as owing the patient a duty to teach presupposes on the part of the patient the ability to learn. In turn, this learning capacity implies personal responsibility. For this reason, naturopathy strongly insists upon the indispensable role of the patient in his or her own health and healing.
How Centers for Healing Applies these Principles
At my office in Scranton, northeast Pennsylvania, we are all about education, both of health professionals and of patients. My team members and I regularly attend continuing education conferences around the country, both to refresh our knowledge of fundamentals and to keep abreast of new developments.
Moreover, a big part of patient education is insisting upon each one’s personal responsibility for his or her health. The toxic world in which we live certainly is the cause of the health problems endured by many of our patients. However, what they do about those problems is up to them! My team can do much to address the causes of some of their ailments, but compliance with recovery and lifestyle directives is entirely in the hands of each individual. I often remind my patients with the simple reassurance: “Remember, it’s your health (mouth, body, life, etc.) that’s at stake here.”
Finally, all my patients are given my personal cell phone number. I call each one of them within 24 hours of any procedure to see how they’re doing. I don’t do house calls, but I do make emergency, after-hours appointments with patients in urgent need of care. Am I saying this to blow the fanfare in my own parade? Not at all. I’m simply saying that I take my responsibilities as doctor/teacher very seriously. Frankly, I don’t see how I could do otherwise.
I hope you enjoy these blogposts, all of which are an extension of my work as a teaching doctor!
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube
Medicine: is it designed to treat diseases or the people who have them? That may seem like a question that begs an obvious answer. The problem is that different people see different “obvious answers.” As we’ll see, these varying answers boil down to essentially two points of view. Medical care either primarily focuses on actual diseases – to be “cured” or, more often, merely palliated – or it primarily focuses on healthy persons – in whom disease is to be prevented.
The Naturopathic Viewpoint
Let’s see what the naturopaths have to say in this regard. As the AANP House of Delegates Position Paper explains:
“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.”
The Art of Asking Questions and Listening to Answers
We’ve already discussed the importance naturopathy places on the initial doctor/patient conversation. A good conversationalist knows when to speak and when to be silent. Above all, he or she knows how to listen to another, to really hear what is being said – as well as what is being merely implied.
There really are two distinct paradigms when it comes to the current state of healthcare. The first is primarily about disease management and sick care. The second, primarily about personal healthcare and prevention. Now, of course, a diseased or sick person needs adequate treatment, and it would be incorrect to say that all standard medicine ignores the preventative aspect of treatment. This is more a question of emphasis than one of total exclusion. I’ll have more to say in this regard in our next post, where I attempt to sum up all that we’ve seen regarding the fundamental principles of naturopathy. Human life and health are complex issues, as the AANP’s Position Paper affirms:
“Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health. The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person, taking all of these factors into account.”
As a biological dentist, I am committed to helping my patients in whatever way I can. Sometimes, a dental revision is more preventative than curative. This is the case when no significant health problems have yet developed. Other times, dental revisions are life-changing events, enabling patients to regain their health . . . and, yes, to regain their lives!
I have witnessed dramatic recoveries, some of which have been nothing short of amazing, even bordering on miraculous. In my own case, soon after my first meeting with Dr. Hal Huggins, my clinically diagnosed and advanced state of leukemia was rapidly cured following the removal of my root canals, and without a single other medical intervention. “Take away the cause, take away the effect.”
Getting back to my own work as a dentist, I can express my paradigm simply and succinctly: I do not treat teeth and gums. Nor do I treat mouths. I treat persons, each of whom has his or her own individual teeth, gums, and mouths. And, yes, his or her own story: stories are meant to be told, and the storyteller must be heard.
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube