What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Simply put, naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. Our medicine takes into consideration that you do not have the same lifestyle, genetics, or co-existing conditions as another individual with the same diagnosis, so treatment must be unique to that person. Naturopathic doctors are experts in nutrition, homeopathy, plant-based medicines, hydrotherapy, environmental medicine, and more, allowing them to provide the most appropriate and effective natural therapy to return the body and mind to a state of health.
With the abundance of natural health resources available online, in combination with the opinions of conventional medical practitioners, it can be very difficult to decide what treatment options are best for you and your family. Naturopathic doctors help navigate this information through taking a thorough case history, assessing for the underlying cause, identifying and removing obstacles to cure, and providing the gentlest yet most effective therapies.
Although the foundation of naturopathic medicine lies in traditional healing practices that have been proven over centuries, this does not mean that it exists outside of the advancements in modern medicine. Naturopathic doctors are not opposed to conventional medicine. They frequently work alongside their MD and DO colleagues to provide a full spectrum of health care at the level that is necessary for the individual.
Naturopathic doctors easily blend modern, science-based diagnostic and therapeutic procedures with ancient and traditional methods. They follow the six fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine:
1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Nature): Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body's inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians identify and remove obstacles to recovery to facilitate this healing ability in patients.
2. Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.
3. First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:
1. Use methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects;
2. Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms;
3. Acknowledge and respect the individual's healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.
4. Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
5. Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual path.
6. Prevention: Naturopathic physicians 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.
Whether you live with a chronic illness or rarely have health complaints, seeing a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) can help improve your quality of life. If you are unsure of how to choose the best treatment for your health condition – no matter how broad or specific your concern may be – simply begin by making an appointment for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. We can use this time to discuss your current health concerns, and how naturopathic medicine can help.
Scope of Practice for Naturopathic Doctors & Licensure Requirements
Under California state law, NDs have a broad scope of practice and are licensed as primary care doctors. NDs can diagnose, order lab and imaging tests, and treat illness with natural therapies. NDs can also prescribe all hormones independently and can prescribe many other drugs under the written supervision of an MD or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). All states and provinces with laws regulating the practice of naturopathic medicine require a resident course of at least four years of doctoral-level study from a college or university recognized by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). To qualify for a license, the applicant must satisfactorily pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), which includes basic sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects and clinical sciences. Currently, naturopathic doctors are licensed or registered as health care providers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Legal provisions allow the practice of naturopathic medicine in several other states. Naturopathic doctors are also recognized in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. Efforts to gain licensure elsewhere are currently under way. Additionally, professional associations exist in 42 states and 11 provinces.