What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, assistive methods and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific empirical methods.

The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere):
    • Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the client:Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their clients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-client relationship.
  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each client 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.
  • Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their clients to prevent illness.

The above was taken from the AANP webpage http://www.naturopathic.org

What kind of training do Naturopathic Doctors have?

Naturopathic physicians undergo training that is similar in structure and scope to that of medical and osteopathic doctors.

Naturopathic medical schools are four-year graduate level schools with rigorous admissions requirements comparable to other medical schools. The five existing naturopathic medical schools in the US are accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), a professional accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of education. The first two years of naturopathic medical school is very similar to a conventional medical school (MD), the majority of classes consisting of basic sciences (anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, immunology, neurology, pathology etc.). The last two years of Naturopathic medical school consists of specialized academic courses (i.e. gynecology, gastroenterology, urology, cardiology, endocrinology, EENT, pediatrics, pharmacology, minor surgery, clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, etc) as well as courses that focus on naturopathic therapeutics like botanical medicine, homeopathy, naturopathic physical medicine, clinical nutrition, counseling, intravenous and injection therapy and hydrotherapy. Because coursework in natural therapeutics is added to a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors often receive significantly more hours of classroom education in these areas than the graduates of many leading medical schools. After graduating from a naturopathic medical school naturopathic doctors are required to take rigorous board examinations to show competency of their medical education.

Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) are regulated/written by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. Licensure and scope of practice vary from state to state.

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