For the past three years I have been in love with Naturopathic medicine and all of the benefits that it can provide to its patients. There are some aspects the profession however that I strongly dislike. One such aspect is the typical approach to traditional western medicine. Right from the start of my career in medicine I observed a very prominent ‘us versus them’ mentality regarding naturopaths and allopaths. For me this was, and still is, a rather surprising discovery. Shouldn’t all health care practitioners be working towards the same goal? Are we not all endeavoring to optimize the health of our patients? I have also frequently observed many students purporting the opinion that one medicine (naturopathic vs. allopathic) is superior to another. Again, I am confused by this attitude.
It is my opinion that patients should be treated individually and, as such, it should follow that the medical treatment that is best will differ from patient to patient. The optimal treatment for a person will also differ based on their presenting condition. I would argue that something like help with weight loss or moderate depression may often be best treated naturopathically, whereas bacterial meningitis almost certainly requires pharmacological intervention. How then is one medicine overall ‘better’ than another?
Naturopaths have struggled with the allopathic attitude that naturopathic treatments were inferior to those based in pharmacology. Now that this view has begun to change, it would be a shame if naturopaths turned the same attitude back on the allopathic community. My purpose in raising this issue is not to scold or place blame, but instead to suggest that we should put aside our competitive natures and work together for the good of our patients.
It is my most fervent hope that doctors from both professions, naturopathic and allopathic, will someday soon look past their differences and work from a combined medical perspective to give each and every patient the medicine that will best help them, regardless of the source. I think that with a little open-mindedness and a strong effort on both parts, we can help to create a medical system that utilizes every tool in our combined toolboxes to help as many people as possible.