Naturopathic medicine blends centuries-old knowledge of natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and medicine.
It began with Hippocrates
As a distinct health care profession, naturopathic medicine is almost 100 years old. Its philosophy and therapies have their origins in the philosophy of Hippocrates and the healing wisdom of many cultures and times. At the turn of the century, practitioners of a variety of medical disciplines combined natural therapeutics in a unique way. These practitioners joined together to form the first Naturopathic medical societies. Naturopathic medical conventions in the 1920′s attracted more than 10,000 practitioners. Early in the 20th century there were more than 20 Naturopathic colleges and Naturopathic physicians were licensed in a majority of the states.
Naturopathic Medicine experienced a decline in the 1940′s and 1950′s with the rise and popularity of pharmaceutical drugs, technological medicine, and the widespread belief that these therapies could eliminate all disease. It has experienced a resurgence in the last two decades, as a health conscious public seeks out alternatives to conventional medicine.
As a body of knowledge, naturopathy continues to grow and evolve. As an organized profession, naturopathic medicine is committed to ongoing research and development of its science and incorporates elements of scientific modern medicine.
The modern world meets ancient and traditional methods
Today’s naturopathic physician easily blends modern, state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and research with ancient and traditional methods from around the world.
Licensed naturopathic physicians attend four year medical schools including academic courses as well as clinical training.
ND education includes the same foundational classes as conventional medical doctors (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, etc), as well as training in conventional physical and laboratory diagnosis, minor surgery and office procedures (injections, IV, laceration care and repair, biopsies, etc).
In addition to conventional medical approaches, naturopathic training also includes:
- extensive training in nutrition and nutrient therapies
- botanical medicine
- physical medicine
- natural childbirth
- exposure to the foundational concepts of Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine
All of this training overlays the principles of naturopathic medicine: honor and support the body’s inherent wisdom and ability to heal; find and treat the cause; support and address the whole person; prevention is the best treatment; strive for optimal health.
Naturopathic medicine includes a wide variety of modalities:
- nutrition / diet & lifestyle modification
- orthomolecular & functional medicine
- botanical medicine
- hydrotherapy & physical medicine, including naturopathic manipulation
- environmental medicine & detoxification
Many ND’s have additional training in:
- acupuncture and oriental medicine
- ayurvedic medicine
Also, some ND’s have training in fields such as applied or clinical kinesiology (a modality involving muscle testing), NAET (allergy elimination technique), Cranio-Sacral therapy, Visceral Manipulation, and more.
Practice styles vary greatly from doctor to doctor. While all licensed naturopathic physicians attended accredited four year medical schools, some NDs practice as primary care doctors (using the same types of diagnostic tests and procedures that conventional MDs use) other NDs choose not to practice primary care and specialize in one or more of the alternative or esoteric approaches. Many NDs combine aspects of both.
Because there’s a lot of misinformation about naturopathic medicine and the training of practitioners of natural medicine, please be aware of the following:
There are several correspondence courses in existence offering a “doctor of naturopathic medicine” degree, as well as several more traditional looking programs. Please note that while graduates of these courses may have valuable insight to offer consumers regarding natural medicine, they do not meet the qualifications for licensed physicians. Currently there are only six schools in North America that are accredited naturopathic medical colleges.
There are many states that have yet to license naturopathic medicine, in these states naturopathic medicine is not regulated. In these unregulated states, graduates of correspondence programs may also use the titles ND, naturopathic doctor or naturopathic physician due to this lack of regulation. This is the basis of much of the confusion and the claims that Naturopathic physicians do not have adequate medical training.
In Washington and other states where naturopathic medicine is licensed the rigorous educational standards listed above are upheld. Physicians must complete their training, pass board examinations and meet continuing education requirements to maintain a license to practice medicine. All of the naturopathic physicians at the Evergreen Center for Integrative Medicine are licensed physicians in the state of Washington.
For more information see: