I bet most of you have heard of a naturopath, and many of you probably have differing opinions or interpretations about what one is, what one does, and their credentials, just to name a few. Here’s the lowdown…
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine = working with nature to restore people’s health.
It blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Naturopathy contends the body has the ability to heal itself and ward off disease, when it’s working at an optimal level.
What is a Naturopathic Physician?
A Naturopathic Physician holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from one of seven accredited naturopathic medical programs in the United States. Naturopathic Physicians are identified as a ND or NMD. Many receive additional training in specialties such as natural childbirth (midwifery), acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine.
Do Naturopathic Physicians take board exams? Are they Licensed?
Yes to both! Naturopathic Doctors take a national board exam, Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam, and attain a state license where it is available. As of this posting, the states that license Naturopathic Physicians are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands.
In licensed states, NDs practice as independent primary care general practitioners, with the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, and order laboratory testing. In these states many people specifically choose NDs as their primary care providers.
In unlicensed states such as New York, Naturopathic Doctors are not able to offer all of the services they are trained to provide.
What does a Naturopathic Physician treat?
Naturopaths treat the underlying problem of the disease (prevention is their dogma). Naturopathic treatments are chosen based on the individual patient, taking into consideration their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care. Among the most common ailments they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
NDs can perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts or stitching up superficial wounds, but they don’t perform major surgery. NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.
Bottom Line:Naturopaths are as good or as bad as any other branch of medicine and cannot all be placed under the same heading. A good doctor listens, a bad doctor ignores and dictates....it’s that simple!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods