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naturopathic medicine

education and licensure

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) complete a four-year postgraduate level training at one of five fully accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools in North America. The curriculum covers traditional medical science and in addition, coursework is infused with holistic philosophy. NDs learn unique Naturopathic diagnostic skills and also natural healing therapies such as botanical medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy as primary treatments. There is no other kind of primary care doctor who receives such extensive training in holistic medicine along with the latest in conventional health sciences. Candidates for a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine must also complete over 900 hours of on-site clinical training in order to complete their degree.

After graduation, NDs are eligible to sit for standardized National Board Exams given by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners in order to receive a license to practice. Licensure and scope of practice differ state by state. In California, you can find more information about Naturopathic Medicine at the California Naturopathic Doctors Association. Practicing Naturopaths also complete continuing education to maintain their licensure.

philosophy of practice

Six principles guide the Naturopathic Practitioner:

  • Treat the whole person
  • First do no harm
  • Doctor as teacher
  • Prevention
  • Identify and treat the cause
  • Healing Power of Nature

These principles are not entirely exclusive to Naturopathic Medicine, but the application of them is what distinguishes Naturopathy from conventional medicine. For patients, working with a Naturopath often requires a paradigm shift, but the results are lasting, beneficial life changes. A state of health is not seen as a fixed way of being, but rather as a flexible state that allows for optimal function to sustain the body and develop the spirit. The belief that the body uses the healing power of nature—its innate ability to heal—is inherent in Naturopathy. Naturopaths work to discover the root causes of disease and their goal is to treat curatively rather than only managing symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s warning signs of an underlying problem that should be investigated rather than suppressed. However, if symptoms are uncomfortable or life-threatening, palliation may need to occur to keep patients safe and comfortable on their path to true health.