Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care.1
Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness; the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic physicians cooperate with all other branches of medical science referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.2
Naturopathic medicine is dedicated to the study and celebration of nature’s healing powers. It is as old as healing itself and as new as today’s medical breakthroughs. It is a dynamic philosophy as well as a profession that recognizes the interconnection and interdependence of all living things. It utilizes the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies to treat illness and to promote wellness by viewing the body as an integrated whole.3
primary care providers
Doctors of naturopathic medicine (NDs) are trained as primary care providers and, as such, their scope of practice may include...
Physical and clinical diagnosis
Laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine*
* Only in scope of practice in a few states.
Naturopathic physicians learn to treat all aspects of family health and wellness, from pediatrics to geriatrics. They tailor their therapies to meet the individual needs of each patient, factoring in physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects before prescribing a course of treatment. Because they view natural remedies as complementary as well as primary, naturopathic physicians cooperate with other medical professionals, referring patients to allopathic medical doctors, surgeons and other specialists whenever appropriate.4
training and education
A licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D., but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling (to encourage people to make lifestyle changes in support of their personal health). A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician.5
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 and extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license.
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:
• District of Columbia
• New Hampshire
• United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
*Effective July 2, 2009.6