Naturopathic Medicine
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is based on the premise that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes while utilizing cutting-edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to prevent as well as treat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person), not as a clogged artery or a tumor. Naturopathic physicians craft comprehensive treatment plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to not only treat disease, but to also restore health.
Naturopathic physicians base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence.
The Healing Power of Nature. Human beings are equipped with a powerful, innate ability and instinct for self-healing.Naturopathic Physicians strive to enhance the body's efforts to heal by supporting the basics of healthy food, clean water and air, as well as considering the following aspects:
Identify and treat the cause. Naturopathic physicians understand that symptoms will only return unless the root illness is addressed. Rather than suppressing or temporarily reducing symptoms, they seek the cause of these symptoms and provide support that safely and effectively addresses the causative agent.
First, do no harm. Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to ensure their patients’ safety:
 
Use low-risk procedures and healing compounds—such as dietary supplements, herbal extracts and homeopathy—with few or no side effects.
When possible, do not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s efforts to self-heal. For example, the body may created a fever in reaction to a bacterial infection. Fever creates an inhospitable environment for the harmful bacteria, thereby destroying it. The naturopathic physician would not allow the fever to become dangerously high by closely monitoring as well as providing effective treatment for such a situation.
Customize each diagnosis and treatment plan to fit each patient. We all heal in different ways and the naturopathic physician respects those differences.
Educate patients. Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators, as well as physicians. That’s why naturopathic physicians teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility and work closely with each patient.
Treat the whole person. We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. The naturopathic physician knows that all these factors affect our health. That’s why he or she includes them in a carefully tailored treatment strategy.
Prevent illness. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never been truer. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery and lives. That’s why naturopathic physicians evaluate risk factors, heredity and vulnerability to disease. By getting treatment for greater wellness, we’re less likely to need treatment for future illness.


What is a Naturopathic Physician (ND)?
The definition of a Naturopathic Physician is one who attended a 4-year graduate-level medical school and holds a license in one of the states listed below. In addition to studying all of the basic sciences that a medical doctor (MD) studies, including pharmacology and minor surgery, a naturopathic physician receives additional training in botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Naturopathic Manipulation Therapy, counseling. Additional areas of focus and certification exist which vary from institution (ie Naturopathic Obstetrics).
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Evaluation and Skill Assessment and the Occupational Information Network (System O*NET®) defines a naturopathic physician as follows:
29-1199.04 - Naturopathic Physicians
Diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies.

Sample of reported job titles: Naturopathic Physician, Naturopathic Doctor, Physician, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Licensure:
Currently, 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from a four-year, residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive post-doctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive licensure. For information about the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Board (NPLEX) and the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE), please see follow these links as well as see the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical College’s pages on Naturopathic Medical School (AANMC).

Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state's law. The states that currently have licensing laws for naturopathic physicians are:
Alaska
Arizona
California
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Hawaii
Idaho
Kansas
Maine
Minnesota*
Montana
New Hampshire
Oregon
Utah
Vermont
Washington
United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
Adapted from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians' website: www.naturopathic.org