Naturopathic Medicine is a unique and distinct system of health care that emphasizes the use of prevention and natural therapeutics. The doctors who practice naturopathic medicine, called naturopathic physicians (NDs), are trained to serve as primary care general practitioners who are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of both acute and chronic health conditions.
Naturopathic physicians are trained at accredited, four-year, post-graduate, residential naturopathic medical programs. The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies.
Naturopathic physicians are guided by six principles:
First, Do No Harm; The Healing Power of Nature; Find the Cause; Treat the Whole Person; Preventive Medicine; and, Doctor as Teacher. This set of principles, emphasized throughout a naturopathic physician’s training, outlines the philosophy guiding the naturopathic approach to health and healing and forms the foundation of this distinct health care practice.
Naturopathic physicians use a variety of natural and non-invasive therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, and counseling. Many naturopathic physicians have additional training and certification in acupuncture and natural child birth. Naturopathic treatments are effective in treating a wide variety of conditions without the need for additional intervention.Naturopathic physicians are also able to function within an integrated framework, and naturopathic therapies can be used to complement treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a patient-centered approach that strives to provide the most appropriate treatment for an individual’s needs.
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.