Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy or natural medicine) is a complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the ability of the body to heal and maintain itself, which practitioners believe is innate. Naturopathic practice may include different modalities such as abstinence, acupuncture, colonic irrigation, counseling, chiropractic, diet, exercise, herbalism, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, environmental medicine, manual therapy, orthomolecular medicine and relaxation. Practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments. Naturopathy has its origins in the Nature Cure movement of Europe. It is practiced in many countries, but subject to different standards of regulation and levels of acceptance.
Naturopathic practitioners prefer not to use invasive surgery or most synthetic drugs, preferring natural remedies, for instance, relatively unprocessed or whole medications such as herbs and foods. Graduates of a naturopathic medical school in North America are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment. In some states, naturopathic doctors who hold an ND are licensed to prescribe pharmaceutical medicines and perform minor surgeries.
Naturopathic physicians in North America are primary care providers trained in conventional medical sciences, diagnosis and treatment and are experts in natural therapeutics. Licensing and training requirements vary from state to state, but at least 15 states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces have formal licensing and educational requirements. In these jurisdictions, naturopathic physicians must pass comprehensive board exams set by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) after having completed academic and clinical training at a college certified by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The letters ND usually designate a naturopathic doctor or physician in jurisdictions where such a title is protected by law.
Traditional naturopaths are guided by the same naturopathic philosophies and principles as board-licensed naturopathic physicians and often prescribe similar treatments, but do so as alternative or complimentary practitioners rather than as primary care providers. Some may voluntarily join a professional organization, but these organizations do not accredit educational programs in any meaningful way or license practitioners per se. The training programs for traditional naturopaths can vary greatly, are less rigorous and do not provide the same basic and clinical science education as naturopathic medical schools do. The professional organizations formed by traditional naturopaths are not recognized by the U.S. government or any U.S. state or territory.
Regulation in North America
See also: List of accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America and Naturopathic medical schools in North America
Jurisdictions that currently regulate
U.S. jurisdictions with full licensure: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oregon, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Washington
Utah licensed NDs can only prescribe medications listed from the Naturopathic Physician Formulary.
U.S. state with registration for naturopathic physicians: Kansas
U.S. jurisdictions with two-tier licensure: Puerto Rico
U.S. states with legal basis for practice: Rhode Island
U.S. states which specifically prohibit the practice of naturopathy: South Carolina, Tennessee
Canadian provinces with full licensure: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan
Tenets of Naturopathic Medicine
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis
Naturopathic medicine recognizes the inherent, ordered and intelligent healing process in each individual. Naturopathic physicians work to remove the obstacles to cure and support the natural healing process using techniques that work in harmony with nature.
Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
Naturopathic physicians work to identify and remove the underlying cause of illness rather than simply treat symptoms, often looking at diet, lifestyle, habits and environment.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic physicians follow three principles to avoid harming the patient:
1. The use of methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
2. To avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms.
3. To acknowledge and respect the individual¡¯s natural healing process, while using the least invasive diagnostic procedures and treatments.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self responsibility. They also recognize the therapeutic value of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic physicians treat each individual by addressing the complex interactions of a patient¡¯s physical, environmental, emotional, mental, genetic, social and spiritual aspects. Total health includes spiritual health, thus naturopathic physicians encourage patients to pursue their own individual spiritual path.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors and making early interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic physicians promote wellness by supporting their patients to create healthy lifestyles.