What Is Naturopathic Medicine

Only the Naturopathic Doctors that receive training at an accredited school can be licensed physicians. Having a license to practice medicine gives Naturopathic Doctors the ability to prescribe, diagnose, and treat medical conditions in the states where their licensing is regulated.

Principles Of Naturopathic Medicine

The Healing Power of Nature

Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

Identify and Treat the Cause

The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

First Do No Harm

Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient:

      Utilize methods and substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat.
      Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms.
      Acknowledge, respect, and work with the individual’s self-healing process.

Doctor As Teacher

Naturopathic physicians educate and encourage self-responsibility for health by teaching the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine.

Treat the Whole Person

Naturopathic physicians treat by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors.


Naturopathy emphasizes the prevention of disease — assessing risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness.

Naturopathic Therapeutic Approach

  1. Establish the conditions for health
    • Identify and remove disturbing factors
    • Institute a more healthful regimen
  2. Stimulate the healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae): the self-healing processes, through low force methods such as constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture
  3. Address weakened or damaged systems or organs (via botanical medicine, homeopathy, orthomolecular nutrients, glandulars, homeopathy, and other minimally invasive, safe, natural therapies)
    • Strengthen the immune system
    • Decrease toxicity
    • Normalize inflammatory function
    • Optimize metabolic function
    • Balance regulatory systems
    • Enhance regeneration
    • Harmonize life force
  4. Correct structural integrity
  5. Address pathology:
    • use specific natural substances, modalities, or interventions
    • use specific pharmacologic or synthetic substances
  6. Suppress or surgically remove pathology

Know The Difference

Not all Naturopaths are medically-trained. Some naturopathic programs are completely or partially offered online requiring no medical training. To be sure your naturopathic doctor has been medically trained they must have attended a four-year, post bachelor, accredited naturopathic medical school.

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. The training also includes extensive study of naturopathic philosophy and therapeutics.

Because coursework in natural therapeutics is added to a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors receive significantly more hours of classroom education in these areas than the graduates of many leading medical schools.

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.

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.

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

Depending on the state, NDs 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.

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