The final principle of naturopathic medicine is disease prevention or ‘PRAEVENIRE’. This principle has the potential to change the way we use healthcare, and in the long rung would save billions of dollars globally if it were embraced by every healthcare provider. While cures and treatment are important now, more effort needs to be put into the intervention of disease prevention, so the cures and treatment aren’t even needed.
Naturopaths educate their patients about the value of prevention during every consult. They will not only treat the presenting complaint, but will look at their patients diet and lifestyle, any potential risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to help prevent the onset of disease. Prevention goes hand in hand with education and changing a life time of habits can be tough but potentially life saving.
Majority of our modern day health concerns are controllable, reversible and preventable with the right information and intervention. The following is an extract taken from a conversation between 2 doctors in an article on medscape.com (you can find the whole article here). Here they are discussing obesity and are encouraging all doctors to view obesity as a disease that can be treated with one of the various ‘anti-obesity’ drugs available. Earlier in the article they recognise that lifestyle intervention is effective in 17% of cases.
“Doctor 1: Doctors are reimbursed pretty poorly for treatment of obesity with lifestyle. Most doctors see a patient every 10 minutes. It is more cost effective for the doctor to treat hypertension and diabetes instead of obesity, because it takes a while to talk about lifestyle change. Quite frankly we don’t look at lifestyle for a patient with elevated lipids. Who does that? Who treats patients with elevated lipids with lifestyle alone?
Doctor 2: It’s very rare.
Doctor 1: Why do we treat obesity with lifestyle alone if obesity is a disease?
Doctor 2: That’s a great point.”
Firstly, elevated lipids are caused by poor dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle, and if these were addressed both the elevated lipids and obesity would be positively effected. Secondly even though they recognise that lifestyle intervention is effective, these doctors admit that most doctors do not have the time to educate their patients to make the necessary changes to improve their health and it is easier to prescribe a drug. The problem with continually prescribing a drug is that the patient then thinks they are ok, they don’t need to change any of their habits and the circle of disease continues. This highlights the problem with how conventional medicine treats chronic disease and the lack of attention given to disease prevention.
Educating a patient about disease prevention through dietary and lifestyle habits not only empowers an individual but potentially a couple, a family or whole community. We all love to share with our loved ones when we have made positive gains in our health, particularly when it is through commitment and determination to make a change. Through these positive gains we are preventing disease and are re-building our body in an effort to live a long and healthy life without the burden of disease holding us back. Imagine if your gains could inspire a family member to follow your footsteps, and then their work colleague and then their sister-in-law. All it takes is one person to inspire a whole community of people and begin the chain of healing.
Just imagine if you were that one person. You can be. Make that change now.