is Naturopathic Medicine?
(Is a ND really a doctor?)
can an naturopathic doctor (ND) do for you?
to find a Naturopathic Doctor
Brief History of Naturopathy
predecessor of naturopathy may have been the great Jewish
philosopher Maimonides (1135-1204) who, in contrast to many of his
medical colleagues, downplayed the importance of drugs and surgery
and argued that diet, exercise, and mental outlook were the keys to
vibrant health. A court physician to the royal family in Cairo,
Egypt, his book Preservation
of Youth, espoused completely natural methods. Written for a
dissolute young prince who suffered everything from depression to
indigestion he warned, “overeating is like a deadly poison to any
constitution and the principle cause of all diseases.”
The German Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (1762-1836), who served
as royal physician to the King of Prussia, is regarded as one of the
founders of holistic medicine. A prolific author and proponent of
“Nature Cure,” which consisted of hydrotherapy (cleansing the
colon with a water flush), air and light baths, vegetarian diet and
herbal remedies, Hufeland was also a great fan of mineral springs
and “Water Cure” (popularized by Sebastian Kneipp). His most
successful written work, The
Art of Prolonging Human Life (1796), became one the most widely
read books on preventive medicine and was the first natural health
best-seller. Hufeland coined the phrase “macrobiotics,” later
adopted by George Oshawa, an admirer of Hufeland and founder of the
modern macrobiotic movement. Hufeland was deeply influenced by the
philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), whose ideology fueled
the philosophy of naturism and the nature cure movement, which
became popular throughout Europe and was characterized by three
A strongly emotional attitude towards nature, defined as
A theory of health, disease treatment and cure (known as
nature cure or naturopathy)
A preference for certain treatment methods which are
considered natural (such as the application of water, air, movement,
On The Rise
which combined nature cure with homeopathy, massage, spinal
manipulation, and therapeutic electricity, was developed in America
largely through the work of Benedict Lust (pronounced loost;
1872-1945). From 1900-1938, naturopathic medicine flourished in
America. Interest then declined, due to the emergence of “miracle
medicine,” surgical advances during WWII, and the growing
political sophistication of the American Medical Association (AMA).
Chiropractic and naturopathy were taught together until about 1955
when the National Chiropractic Association stopped granting
accreditation to schools that also taught naturopathy. In 1956,
doctors founded the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in an
attempt to keep the profession alive. Dr. John Bastyr, considered
the father of naturopathy, served as executive director. A
chiropractor, naturopath and obstetrician, he began his practice in
Seattle in the depths of the Great Depression; Bastyr was so revered
as a physician and teacher that the Naturopathic College in Seattle
was named in his honor. The key to Bastyr’s legendary clinical
successes lay in his basic philosophy. In a 1985 interview, asked to
distinguish between naturopathy and conventional medicine, he said,
“The basic difference is that in naturopathy it’s not the doctor
who does the curing, it’s the patient.”
idea appealed to many Americans in the 1970’s, when the public’s
growing awareness of the importance of nutrition and the
environment, along with disenchantment with organized institutional
medicine brought new waves of students to Naturopathy.
A Naturopath Really A Doctor?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct profession of primary health
care, emphasizing prevention, treatment and the promotion of optimal
health through the use of therapeutic methods and modalities, which
encourage the self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae. The
scope of practice includes all aspects of family and primary care,
from pediatrics to geriatrics, and all natural medicine
Prerequisite Coursework for Admittance
into Naturopathic School in addition to a bachelor's degree:
College-level algebra or precalculus: 1 course
Chemistry (science-major level): at least 4 courses. Must include a
minimum of 2 sequential courses in organic chemistry. The standard
prerequisite for science-major level organic chemistry is one year
of general chemistry. Appropriate lab work required.
General Biology (science-major level): 2 semesters or 3 quarters.
Must cover concepts in cellular biology and genetics. Appropriate
lab work required. Individual courses in the biological sciences may
count if the above competencies are met, i.e., zoology,
Physics: at least 1 college-level course. Many institutions do not
cover all required concepts in one course; required concepts include
mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism. Course may be
algebra-based, and lab is not required.
Psychology: 2 courses.
Introduction to psychology and developmental psychology through the
life span are the recommended sequence.
first two years of naturopathic school are very similar to
conventional medical school, requiring anatomy, physiology,
pathology, biochemistry, neurology, radiology, minor surgery,
microbiology, obstetrics, immunology, gynecology, pharmacology,
pediatrics, dermatology, clinical laboratory and physical diagnosis,
among other courses. The second two years focus on clinical skills
and a wide range of natural therapeutics. NDs receive training in
naturopathic therapeutics such as botanical medicine, homeopathy,
natural childbirth, Chinese medicine, physiotherapy, and clinical
nutrition. Because coursework in natural therapeutics is added to a
standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors receive
significantly more hours of classroom education in these areas than
do graduates of many leading medical schools. Students also complete
a clinical internship consisting of 1,500 hours treating patients
under the supervision of licensed naturopathic and conventional
medical physicians in an outpatient setting. Two-year, post
doctorate residencies are available to qualified graduates.
The U.S. Department of Labor
defines the naturopathic physician as one who "diagnoses,
treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that
bases its treatment of all physiological functions and abnormal
conditions on natural laws governing the body, utilizes
physiological, psychological and mechanical methods, such as air,
water, heat, earth, phytotherapy (treatment by use of plants),
electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor or orificial surgery,
mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and all
natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines,
natural processed foods, herbs, and natural remedies. Excludes major
surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and use of drugs,
except those assimilable substances containing elements or compounds
which are compounds of body tissues and are physiologically
compatible to body processes for maintenance of life."
there is currently a situation causing much confusion for lawmakers
and patients. Some well-meaning individuals have attained the title
naturopath through less than exemplary means and now call themselves
“traditional naturopaths.” They may use the legitimate letters NMD
(naturopathic medical doctor) or ND after their name just like a
"real" naturopathic doctor.
A "traditional naturopath" is the self-chosen title
of someone who is self-educated or has done coursework at home using
a correspondence school. While these individuals may give good
advice, they have not undergone rigorous study in the basic and
clinical sciences, or completed a clinical internship. This difference can be confusing
for consumers seeking naturopathic health care.
situation is professionally embarrassing
but we feel that the public is better served through full
naturopathic physician should be distinguished from a
"traditional naturopath" through licensing. When states
license naturopathic doctors, they require practitioners to have
graduated from an accredited program and to have completed all
appropriate tests and clinical training. Without licensure, anyone
can claim to be a naturopath and practice with nothing more than a
mail-order degree. There is a clear need to differentiate these
people from those physician-level natural medicine practitioners who
are trained in primary care.
is important that the prospective patient verify that the naturopath in question went to a
four-year accredited naturopathic medical school and holds a license in at least one
of the licensed states listed
licensed states are:
US Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
A total of 12 states license naturopathic
physicians. All states and provinces with licensure laws require a
resident course of at least four years and 4,100 hours of study from
a college or university recognized by the state examining board. To
qualify for a license, the applicant must pass the naturopathic
physicians licensing examinations (NPLEX) which includes basic
sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects and clinical sciences.
The scope of practice will vary from state to state depending on licensure
status. Read how
to find a naturopathic doctor below.
can an ND do for you?
physicians practice as primary care providers and make conventional
diagnoses using standard diagnostic procedures such as physical
examinations, laboratory tests and radiology. Naturopathic physicians
meet public health requirements and work with a referral network of
specialists, just like a family practice MD.
Naturopathic doctors often treat medical conditions that are
difficult to treat by conventional medicine with success. Patients
commonly seek an ND for treatment of allergies, fatigue, high blood
pressure, digestive problems, insomnia, depression, chronic pain,
arthritis, and headache. In addition, many people seek naturopathic
care for the co-management of diseases like cancer and HIV.
your MD or DO, an ND will often use a physical exam and laboratory
procedures to diagnose. Nutritional
status, metabolic function, and toxic load are also often used to aid
diagnoses. Time is spent
assessing the patient's mental, emotional, social, and spiritual
status as well. Non-invasive therapies such as lifestyle modification,
behavior modification, and relaxation techniques are a routine part of
a naturopathic doctor’s treatment plan. Other therapies naturopaths
may use include spinal manipulation, massage therapy, therapeutic
nutrition, botanical medicine, detoxification, physiotherapy, exercise
therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, and psychological counseling. In
some licensed states, naturopathic physicians may also perform
outpatient minor surgery, give vaccinations, and administer selected
prescription drugs. Like
other well-trained physicians, NDs know when referral for specialized
diagnostics or therapeutics is necessary.
to find an Naturopathic Doctor
Read the section above
called "Buyer Beware", then go to http://www.naturopathic.org
and click on the find an ND button.
To find an ND in Colorado you can go to the Colorado
Association of Naturopathic Physicians (CANP) website at www.coanp.org.