A licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D., but also studies natural and non-toxic 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, 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.
Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
Naturopathic physicians work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health-care practitioners. Visit our Professional Education page to learn about naturopathic education.
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. However, they do not practice major surgery. NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.
From the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians www.naturopathic.org.
THE SIX NATUROPATHIC PRINCIPLES
- First, Do No Harm: Provide the most effective health care available with the least risk to patients at all times.
- Trust the Healing Power of Nature: Recognize, respect and promote the self-healing power of nature inherent in each individual human being.
- Identify and Treat the Cause: Identify and remove the causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress symptoms.
- Doctor as Teacher: Educate and inspire rational hope and encourage self-responsibility for health.
- Treat the Whole Person: Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors that must be taken into consideration.
- Prevention: Emphasize the condition of health to promote well-being and to prevent diseases for the individual, our community and our world.