Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic Doctors teach their patients to use tested and effective diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and natural therapies to enhance the body’s natural ability to ward off and combat disease.
One of the hallmarks of natural medicine is the treatment of the whole person. All too often, busy healthcare providers turn to pharmaceuticals as their first option to treat isolated symptoms – without taking the time to discover the root causes of those symptoms. While pharmaceuticals have their place, appropriate natural intervention can often prevent the progression of a disease or condition and result in a resolution of symptoms. Naturopathic medicine presents a wide range of options for those who wish to optimize their health or take a proactive approach to managing a diagnosed chronic condition.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The Healing Power of Nature
Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body’s inherent ability, which is ordered and intelligent, to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery, and to facilitate and augment this healing ability.
Identify and Treat the Causes
The naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:
utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects;
avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms;
acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.
Doctor as Teacher
Naturopathic doctors educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors treat each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic doctorss encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual path.
Naturopathic doctors emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what disease(s) is/are being experienced. If wellness is really recognized and experienced by an individual, it will more quickly heal a given disease than direct treatment of the disease alone.
After attaining a pre-med undergraduate degree, a licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in basic sciences as well as holistic and non-toxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and wellness optimization. Clinical internships are part of the program.
In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology and counseling (to encourage people to make lifestyle changes in support of their personal health).
There are five accredited schools in the United States:
- Bastyr University (Kenmore, Washington and San Diego, California)
- National College of Natural Medicine (Portland, Oregon)
- National University of Health Sciences (Lombard, Illinois)
- Southwest College of Natural Medicine (Tempe, Arizona)
- University of Bridgeport College of Natural Medicine (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
There are two accredited schools in Canada:
- Boucher Institute of Natural Medicine (New Westminster, British Columbia)
- Canadian College of Natural Medicine (Toronto, Ontario)
After graduation, naturopathic doctor takes rigorous professional board exams to demonstrate clinical competancy.
To learn more about Naturopathic Medical Education please visit the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.
Naturopathic Doctors are trained to offer a full range of health care to their patients – including the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, annual exams, ordering and interpretation of lab results, minor surgical procedures and the prescription of pharmaceutical medications.
Currently, 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing or registration laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical school and pass an 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 regulate naturopathic doctors are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
Naturopathic Doctors have been regulated in the State of Colorado since 2016. Dr. Caitlin was very active it the passage of this legislation and is thrilled to have the opportunity to be registered as a Naturopathic Doctor. Learn more about the specific rules and regulations guiding the practice of naturopathic medicine in Colorado here.
When selecting a Naturopathic Doctor, make sure that your practitioner has graduated from an accredited program, served a rigorous clinical internship, carries malpractice insurance and is registered with the state.
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians | www.naturopathic.org
Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors | www.coloradond.org
Oregon Board of Naturopathic Examiners | www.obne.state.or.us
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges | www.aanmc.org
Bastyr University | www.bastyr,edu
Midwifery Education Accreditation Council | www.meacschools.org
Midwives Alliance of North America | www.MANA.org