Click HERE to view a PBS segment on naturopathic family medicine.
What Is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a unique profession of primary health care that emphasizes the use of prevention and promotion of optimal health through the use of natural therapeutics.
Naturopathic medicine encourages the self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae, and blends centuries-old knowledge of natural therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and human systems. Its scope of practice includes all aspects of family and primary care, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and all natural medicine modalities.
In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, peer review, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Naturopathic Doctors: Physicians Who Listen
A naturopathic physician is the most highly-trained practitioner in the broadest scope of naturopathic medical modalities. In addition to basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, the education of a naturopathic physician includes therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, classical Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, pharmacology and minor surgery.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Identify and Treat the Causes: 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 utilize methods and medical substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat. When possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms is avoided. Naturopathic physicians acknowledge, respect and work with the individual's self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher: Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease - assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
Education & Training
A licensed naturopathic physician attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all the same basic sciences as a medical doctor. The naturopathic physician 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 physician 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. Additional information on naturopathic schools can be found at the website for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.