Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct branch of health care that combines the use of natural therapeutics with current advances in modern medicine emphasizing prevention and self care. It has existed as a health care profession for over 100 years. Naturopathic medicine is sometimes also referred to as alternative medicine, holistic medicine, herbal medicine, natural medicine, integrative medicine or complementary medicine. Naturopathic physicians are primary care practitioners trained as experts in natural medicine. They base their practice on the founding principles of naturopathic medicine, which are as follows:

1. First Do No Harm
One of the main differences between conventional and naturopathic medicine is that NDs use noninvasive therapies with few side effects in order to avoid unnecessary harm to the patient’s body.

2. Identify and Treat the Cause
Naturopathic doctors believe in the importance of treating the cause of illness, rather than just suppressing symptoms or focusing only on the disease itself.

3. Support the Healing Power of Nature
Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body’s inherent ability to heal itself when it is given proper guidance and support. Naturopathic physicians encourage the healing process by identifying and removing any obstacles to cure that may be present.

4. Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors take all aspects of the individual into account when treating their patients, including physical, emotional, mental, environmental and genetic.

5. Emphasize the Prevention of Disease
In addition to addressing acute and chronic illnesses, naturopathic doctors also strive to promote wellness by identifying risk factors that could lead to future health problems.

6. Educate Patients About Self-Responsibility For Health
Patient education is the cornerstone of naturopathic care. Naturopathic physicians teach their patients how to make conscious lifestyle choices, giving them the confidence they need to reach and maintain an optimal state of health.

Naturopathic Training
Licensed naturopathic doctors attend four-year, graduate level medical schools with admissions requirements comparable to those of other medical schools. Not only are they trained in medical sciences, including how to identify and diagnose disease, but natural therapeutics as well. The types of natural therapeutics they learn include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, and hydrotherapy. Following graduation from an accredited school, naturopathic doctors are required to pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination in order to receive a license. They must also fulfill continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state’s law.

Links
For further details regarding naturopathic education and the naturopathic profession, please visit the following web sites:

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Bastyr University
National College of Naturopathic Medicine
North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
University of Bridgeport
University of San Francisco Study (PDF)