What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine promotes optimal health, utilizing therapies and substances that encourage the body’s innate ability to heal while eliminating obstacles to health. Using a combination of both modern and traditional methods, naturopathic medicine takes a holistic approach, emphasizing prevention and facilitating self-healing. As a comprehensive health care system, naturopathic treatment approaches include nutrition, botanical supplements, homeopathy, exercise, stress reduction, and others.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) hold the conviction that nature and tradition, combined with modern scientific research and methodology, are powerful healers. Practitioners base treatment on diagnosing the underlying causes of disease, using research from a variety of medical sources and disciplines. NDs adhere to six governing principles in helping patients:
- First do no harm
Use the least invasive tactic necessary, and avoid harmful suppression of symptoms.
- The healing power of nature
Harness the body’s natural healing process by removing obstacles to and facilitating recovery.
- Treat the cause
Identifying root problems and addressing them will have more lasting health benefits than only addressing symptoms.
- Treat the whole person
Naturopathic medicine addresses the physical, mental, environmental, social, and spiritual factors that can all affect health and wellness.
- Doctor as teacher
Educate and empower patients to take responsibility for their own health.
Prevent an illness before it occurs.
What do a naturopathic doctor’s education and licensure entail?
Naturopathic doctors are trained to be primary care providers in accordance with government regulations, as are all medical doctors, such as MDs and DOs. They complete their studies at a federally accredited naturopathic medical school followed by rigorous, hands-on clinical training before they begin practicing. Like other types of family doctors, NDs learn about all aspects of health care, ranging from women’s health and pediatrics to digestive health and cardiology. NDs must also pass professional board exams in order to obtain a license to practice medicine in a given state. Like all other practicing doctors, NDs complete annual continuing education to maintain a valid state license.
Do naturopathic doctors work in conjunction with conventional medicine?
Definitely. Naturopathic medicine can be a primary health care approach, but it can also complement other treatments. NDs cooperate with other medical professionals for the best interests of the patient, including referrals to surgeons and other specialists. Other doctors may also send their patients to an ND for specialized treatment.
For more information about naturopathic medicine, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.