What is Naturopathic Medicine

Core Principles

The practice of naturopathic medicine is guided by six core principles.

How are Naturopathic Doctors Trained

NDs attend accredited naturopathic medical schools and successfully complete 4 years, in-residence, hands on medical programs with a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training. The first two years of the naturopathic medicine curriculum closely resembles the structure that medical doctors (MDs) and osteopathic doctors (DOs) must complete. In addition to this curriculum, NDs complete four years of training in disciplines such as: clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, and counseling. The last two years of the naturopathic program includes students entering clinical settings as interns under the supervision of licensed Naturopathic Doctors.

This is an important distinction between a naturopath who participated in a unaccredited and unstandardized program online. Naturopathic Doctors have hands-on, clinical experience and attend accredited programs by the American Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges and the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.

Prior to admission into an accredited naturopathic medical school, the typical entering student has completed three years of pre-medical training and earned a bachelor of science degree. A regulated/licensed ND is a primary care practitioner (only applies to licensed states) who is trained to diagnose and treat all health care concerns. It can be confusing for patients as some naturopaths may refer to themselves as a “Naturopathic Doctor” or use “nd”. Always check the practitioners credentials to ensure they are a regulated/licensed ND who has successfully passed both licensing exams by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiner also know as NPLEX I and NPLEX II.

What Distinguishes NDs from MDs or DOs?

In addition to the four years of training in disciplines such as: clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, and counseling, NDs follow a specific method known as the Therapeutic Order.

Naturopathic doctors partner with their patients to begin addressing lifestyle factors that affect health such as: diet, sleep, stress management, relationships, air quality, water intake, exercise, and spirituality. Setting the foundations for optimal health is the first step in preventing disease and promoting vibrant health. Once these obstacles to care have been addressed, NDs then move through the therapeutic order to stimulate the innate healing mechanisms by either supporting weakened organ systems and/or restoring physical alignment before using natural supplements or conventional approaches like pills and surgical interventions.

Informed Consent

NDs are also well-versed in conventional therapies and pharmaceuticals. As part of the naturopathic philosophy, we exercise the Doctor as Teacher, by empowering individuals to understand all their options carefully with a comprehensive informed consent outlining benefits and potential side-effects.

How Does Naturopathic Medicine Lower Health Care Costs?

As concerns grow over high health care costs and poor health outcomes in the United States, a growing number of policymakers, health care practitioners, and other stakeholders are calling for an expansion of the focus of our health care system to keeping people healthy in addition to providing medical treatment after a person gets sick.

Eight Ways Naturopathic Medicine Lowers Healthcare Costs

  1. Address the root cause of illness
  2. Offer less expensive diagnosis and treatment
  3. Reduce the need for expensive surgical procedures, when appropriate
  4. Decrease costs associated with adverse reactions to prescription drugs
  5. Reduce the incidence of illnesses and fatalities caused by hospital errors
  6. Lower malpractice rates, resulting in reduced patient costs.
  7. Offer disease prevention
  8. Reduce insurance costs

NDs are not influenced by insurance company mandates when providing patient-centered care.

Therapeutic Order

The Therapeutic Order provides a set of guidelines to help naturopathic physicians follow the philosophical principles. The goal of treatment is to completely resolve the patient’s symptoms and address the underlying cause while using the least force possible.

The Naturopathic Doctor’s Oath

I dedicate myself to the service of humanity as a practitioner of the art and science of naturopathic medicine.

By precept, education, and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves and future generations.

I will continually endeavour to improve my abilities.

I will conduct my life and practice of naturopathic medicine with integrity and freedom from prejudice.

I will keep confident what should not be divulged.

I will honor the principles of naturopathic medicine:

First, to do no harm.

To co-operate with the healing powers of nature.

To address the fundamental causes of disease.

To heal the whole person through individualized treatment.

To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine.

With my whole heart, before these witnesses, as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, I pledge to remain true to this oath.