Naturopathic Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Founded upon a holistic philosophy, naturopathic medicine combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic medicine is appropriate for the management of a broad range of health conditions affecting people of all ages. A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and is educated in the same basic sciences as conventional medical doctors. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician is required to complete training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, counseling, hydrotherapy, minor surgery and pharmacology. A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams in order to be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a general practitioner of Family Medicine.

What is NOT Naturopathic Medicine?

Please note that not all NDs are created equally. In those states, such as Illinois, that do not recognize nor license credentialed naturopathic doctors, many lay persons (with no medical training or recognized higher education) hold certificates granting them the title "Doctor of Naturopathy" (ND). This becomes very confusing to the public at large, as well as bonafide health care practitioners and lawmakers. While some unlicensable "NDs" may be brilliant individuals, their certificates come primarily from correspondence schools or short term seminars, none of which are credentialed by any recognized credentialing body of higher education. This is being brought to your attention simply to let you know that there are differences between practitioners having "ND" behind their names. Ask questions about medical training and education. Ask to see the practitioners license, if you are intending to consult with a licensed or licensable naturopathic doctor. Illinois is currently in a "buyer beware" market where naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is concerned.  In Washington State, anyone using the term "naturopath" or "naturopathic doctor" or "naturopathic physician" or anything else having to do with naturopathic medicine is known (because of the licensing requirements of the state) to have graduated from one of the accredited schools and successfully passed the licensing exam.

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

First, Do No Harm

The Naturopathic physician takes an oath to do no harm while assessing & treating patients. At times, the correct action or treatment, is no treatment at first while attempting to identify the cause of the disease. After identifying the cause, it's the physicians duty to utilize the most natural, least invasive, & least toxic therapies before moving up the therapeutic order. 

The Healing Power of Nature

Naturopathic physicians recognize & value the body's innate wisdom & ability to heal itself. This self-healing process is ordered & intelligent. The physicians job is to be a catalyst & encourage the body's natural healing process through the least invasive therapies. 

Identify & Treat the Causes

Naturopathic physicians understand that symptoms are the body's way to signal that the body's defenses are heightened and it's the physicians job to correctly interpret the symptoms to identify & treat the underlying cause of the disease, rather than suppress symptoms. 

Treat the Whole Person

A human being's health is complex and involves many aspects, including physical, mental, emotional, environmental, social, genetic, & spiritual health. Naturopathic physicians view patients as a sum of all the part, or an integrated whole and attempts to treat them as such by addressing all aspects of their health. 

Doctor as Teacher

Personally, this principle is perhaps the most important. It is the physicians job to educate their patient on all aspects of their care, including their diagnosis, effective treatment options, accurate timelines for treatment, proper follow-up, & prognosis. When patients are educated about their care and their health, they become empowered to make educated decisions about their care. 

Prevention

This is where Naturopathic physicians shine. Naturopaths emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing several risk factors, such as personal health history, family history, susceptibility to diseases, etc. Through understanding these factors, the physician can help make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.

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The Therapeutic Order

Guide to Naturopathic Clinical Decision-Making

Also known as the hierarchy of healing, this is the unifying theory of Naturopathic Medicine. This hierarchy governs naturopathic clinic decision-making. It begins by offering minimally invasive recommendations, such as nutrition, hydration, exercise, & sleep, and ends with more aggressive, invasive modalities. 

Medical Public Service Announcement

Naturopathic Doctors in Illinois

Currently, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have licensing or registration laws for Naturopathic Doctors. In these states, Naturopathic Doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year naturopathic medical program and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license or registration. Licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctors must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually and have a specific scope of practice as defined by their state's law.  The State of Illinois does not recognize naturopathic physicians licensure and does not regulate those who call themselves Naturopathic Doctors. This is scary because anyone can call themselves a naturopathic doctor, even if they did not have ANY medical training. Please ask your "Naturopathic Doctor" where they graduated from & which state they hold their license.  If it IS NOT one of the 7 naturopathic medical universities: 

  • Bastyr University - (where Dr. Smith Graduated From
  • National University of Natural Medicine
  • National University of Health Sciences
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine

OR one of the 20 states that have licensing & regulatory legislation, 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington, (the State where Dr. Smith holds his License)

Please be aware that these individuals are NOT Naturopathic Doctors & do not have adequate medical training to be giving appropriate & safe recommendations about your health.