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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine blends modern medical science with the natural laws of healing to restore the body's original health back to its normal state. By facilitating the body’s inherent ability to recalibrate itself and maintain optimal functioning, Naturopathic Doctors are unique in having the ability to promote maximal health results.


The emphasis of Naturopathic Medicine includes the use of conventional medical exams and procedures such as clinical and laboratory diagnosis, physical exams, diagnostic imaging, and emergency medicine, combined with the use of more powerful and longer lasting natural

remedies such as  Botanical Medicine, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Acupuncture, Naturopathic Manual Therapy (spinal alignment), Nutrition, and Detoxification therapies. 


Although preventive medicine is easily achieved with Naturopathic Medicine, it is merely a side effect of the true healing that occurs with Naturopathic therapies.  By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, Naturopathic Doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health - which is the best way to achieve a true reversal of disease, and hence longer lasting results.


Naturopathic medicine is a distinctive approach to health and healing that recognizes the integration of the whole person. It is an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness.

Naturopathic Principles

Naturopathic medicine is based on the following six principles:

First do no harm

Primum non nocere
Naturopathic Medicine uses therapies that are powerful and safe.


The healing power of nature

Vis medicatrix naturae

Naturopathic Medicine uses therapies
that promote the body's natural ability to heal itself.


Identify and treat the cause

Tolle causam
Symptoms are expressions of the body's natural attempt to heal.  Only by treating the underlying cause of a disease can a patient fully recover.


Treat the whole person

Tolle totum
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism and consists of the complex interaction of many factors.  Treating the whole person and promoting the harmonious functioning of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects creates a comprehensive approach to healing.


The physician as teacher

The physician's major role is to educate, empower, and motivate patients to take responsibility for their own health.  Creating a healthy, cooperative relationship with the patient is essential for true healing to occur.


Prevention is the best cure

Being proactive at early stages of health problems fixes imbalances and less serious conditions before they turn into more advanced illnesses.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Medically-trained Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are the only physician level 

specialists in Natural Medicine. They are trained as primary care doctors.  In states where Naturopathic Medicine is regulated, Naturopathic Doctors serve as family doctors and are licensed to practice medicine, as well as diagnose and treat medical conditions.  


Qualified Naturopathic Doctors undergo rigorous training before they become licensed doctors.  Naturopathic Doctors use science and conventional medical techniques to understand the causes of particular illnesses and symptoms, and then apply powerful, natural treatments to stimulate healing while minimizing harm to the body.  Rather than simply managing an illness that worsens over time, these treatments address not only the symptoms but the underlying causes behind the disease, all while supporting the body toward health.


Although Naturopathic Doctors are trained to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs and are as educated in pharmacology as MDs are, they emphasize the use of natural healing agents that restore the body to its original healthy state.  


NDs are also trained to draw blood, give injections, administer IVs, and perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts, benign skin lesions, and stitching up superficial wounds. However, since the ND's education expands beyond drugs and surgery, they have the unique ability and training to offer patients a wide spectrum of other effective treatment options.


In addition, many Naturopathic Doctors have acquired further training and may offer treatments in other specialty areas.


As with any primary care doctor, Naturopathic Doctors refer patients to other medical doctors, surgeons, and other specialists when appropriate.


Medically-trained Naturopathic Doctors work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and research and teaching institutions.  Depending on the state, NDs (NMDs) treat everyone from infants and children to the geriatric population and every type of medical condition from colds, flus, allergies, and infections to chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, cancer prevention, reproductive concerns, chronic pain, and much more.

How are Naturopathic Doctors educated?

Naturopathic physicians undergo training that is similar in structure and scope to that of medical and osteopathic doctors. Naturopathic medical colleges are four-year graduate schools with rigorous admissions requirements comparable to other medical schools.


The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree is awarded after classroom, clinic and practical study. ND's are trained in medical sciences including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology, cardiology, neurology, radiology, minor surgery, phlebotomy, I.V. and injection procedures, emergency medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, embryology, pediatrics, psychology, pharmacology, minor surgery, dermatology, clinical and physical diagnosis, etc. The training also includes extensive study of naturopathic philosophy and therapeutics including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, ayurvedic medicine, hydrotherapy, manipulation therapy, 

counseling, and more.  


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, including Yale, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.

In addition to classroom education, Naturopathic Physicians are also required to complete extensive clinical and practical training before being awarded a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND or NMD) degree.  Naturopathic graduates must then pass national board exams in order to receive a license to practice medicine.


Please see the AANMC’s Professional Competency Profile for more information.


Additional information on naturopathic schools can be found on the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges Web site.

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