Home
About
Ask Dr. Weintraub
Mission
Liquid Cell Salts
Privacy Statement
Disclaimer
Naturopathic Medicine
Articles
Resources
Online Payment
Contact
Naturopathic Medicine

 

What is Naturopathic Medicine?
What is the Education of a Naturopathic Physician?
Where can I Find a Naturopathic Physician?
What is the Value of Naturopathic Licensing?
What is a Naturopathic Physician's Scope of Practice?
Their Difference From Other Alternative Medicine Practitioners
How Does a Naturopathic Physician Differ From a Homeopath?
How Many Appointments Will I Need?
Does My Insurance Cover Naturopathic Healthcare?
What is the Cost?
Other Advantages of Naturopathic Healthcare
Naturopathic Medicine is Growing

 

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Waterfall

Naturopathic medicine is a particular training in medicine founded on the healing powers of nature. Within everyone, there is an innate ability for healing and maintaining health. The results of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices can lead to a decrease in resistance and the onset of disease. The symptoms of disease indicate improper functioning of organs and tissues. Bodies can be restored to normal function, effectively and naturally. This is possible with treatments that support and stimulate, rather than disrupt or suppress the body's innate ability to heal itself.

This holistic approach to health includes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each individual. These aspects cannot be separated from the well-being of the body. Therapies treat the whole person by supporting each of these areas throughout the healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine prefers non-invasive treatments that minimize the risks of harmful side effects. This approach to health care can prevent minor illnesses from developing into more serious or chronic degenerative diseases.

A wide range of ailments can be treated. The aim is to restore health using an array of therapies that may include nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine (including hydrotherapy, exercise, and manipulation), natural childbirth, minor surgery, counseling techniques, and Oriental medicine. When you come to a naturopathic physician for your medical care, a major objective is to determine the underlying cause of your condition or disease.

Top of Page

 

What is the Education of a Naturopathic Physician?

This profession is educated and trained as primary care physicians specializing in natural medicine. In licensed states, it is required to attend an approved post-graduate school of naturopathic medicine after receiving a collage degree with the correct subjects studied. This is similar to what is necessary for any accredited medical school. The four-year medical program includes intensive training in the basic, clinical and diagnostic sciences and naturopathic therapeutics, as well as two years of supervised clinical internship. At the end of four years, graduates receive a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree (ND) after passing a rigorous national medical board examination.

Students at colleges that train naturopathic physicians receive training in the conventional medical sciences and pathology to diagnose in a manner similar to medical doctors (MDs). Training also includes naturopathic philosophy, diagnosis, and therapeutics, with clinical experience and internship. Studies include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, clinical psychology, and traditional Oriental medicine. Such training, in both classroom and clinical setting, has been part of the core curriculum of naturopathic physicians since the profession was organized in the United States in 1902. NDs are the only licensed primary healthcare providers with extensive training in therapeutic diets and preventive medicine.

Top of Page

 

Where can I Find a Naturopathic Physician?

There are licensure laws in several states (see Resources). Naturopathic physicians also practice in other states under other laws (i.e., as licensed acupuncturists or chiropractors) or without official government sanction (i.e., as nutritionists or natural health consultants).

However, without standards in the states without licensing laws, individuals with little or no formal education may also proclaim themselves naturopathic doctors with diploma mill “degrees” or purchased certificates. You may be able to find a licensed naturopathic physician in your area (see Resources). Other places to search are as close as your yellow pages under the heading “Physicians, Naturopathic.”Don't be afraid to ask about the credentials of your healthcare provider.

Top of Page

 

What is the Value of Naturopathic Licensing?

Grey Bark

Licensure creates accountability supported by law, affirming that people who are licensed are under the scrutiny of a board of examiners whose purpose is to protect the public by maintaining professional standards. You have a right to know that those offering such services are competent as physicians, and licensed.

There are those that only have certification. But certification does not carry with it the scrutiny of a licensing board nor regulation by the state. It also does not carry the weight of law should the need arise. Certification merely indicates that the person certified has completed a course of study. it says nothing about the quality of that course of study. There is not ongoing system in place to make certain of adherence to standards of practice.

Top of Page

 

What is a Naturopathic Physician's Scope of Practice?

In the states that naturopathic physicians are licensed, they can provide primary care services including: preventive care, the diagnosis of disease using standard laboratory tests, medical exams, and even treat the whole family using natural therapies. They function as part of the larger medical community and refer to the appropriate specialists whenever indicated.

Naturopathic physicians successfully treat people who have acute problems like minor injuries and infections, but their greatest strength is the treatment of people with chronic diseases. In some licensed states, there may be a liberal pharmaceuticals formulary so that drugs can be prescribed if this becomes necessary.

Nutrition has always been a major therapeutic tool of the naturopathic physician. Improper dietary choices and problems with digestion and the assimilation of foods play a major role in the disease process. Making proper choices in what, when, and how a person eats helps to achieve optimum health. Individuals may need specific vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements to strengthen the body.

Herbs are nature's gift of healing. All cultures around the world use the healing powers of plants around them including the leaves, bark, roots, flowers, seeds, and plant oils. Certain herbs strengthen and tonify specific conditions. Plant formulations, capsules, extracts, tinctures, and teas can treat or assist in the treatment of a variety of acute or chronic illnesses.

Many naturopathic physicians are trained in and use homeopathic medications in their treatment plans. Homeopathy is a highly systematic method of directly and naturally stimulating the body's innate healing power to cure disease. For this reason homeopathy effectively treats many conditions, including some diseases that do not respond to conventional medicine. This type of medicine treats the whole person and increases resistance to disease rather than simply suppressing symptoms.

Some naturopathic physicians include in their training and practice physical medicine, minor surgery, counseling, acupressure and Chinese herbs. Still others receive additional training in acupuncture and natural childbirth care. Of course, some ND's specialize in specific types of imbalances or chronic illnesses or in specific types of body detoxing, etc.

Top of Page

 

Their Difference From Other Alternative Medicine Practitioners

Grey Bark

A naturopathic physician is one type of alternative medical practitioner. Alternative medicine is a term used to describe all forms of medicine that are not “allopathic,” (what is considered conventional medicine). A naturopathic physician is a licensed primary care physician clinically trained to diagnose and treat many of the same conditions that a medical doctor would. Their preferred choice is to use herbal, homeopathic, and other natural medicines or supplements; physical medicine to correct muscular and skeletal complaints; dietary and lifestyle counseling; and perform clinical exams with lab testing as necessary.

Top of Page

 

How Does a Naturopathic Physician Differ From a Homeopath?

Homeopathy is just one type of alternative medicine training that a naturopathic physician uses. Homeopaths only use homeopathic medicine. They are not necessarily primary care physicians and may or may not have formal training. Most naturopathic physicians are trained to use homeopathy, and some choose to use it as a specialty.

Top of Page

 

How Many Appointments Will I Need?
The cost of services depends on the nature of your condition and how long it has been present. Every person is an individual and may need different care depending on their needs. Overall, the cost is less than what conventional medicine charges.

Top of Page

 

Does My Insurance Cover Naturopathic Healthcare?
More and more insurance policies are beginning to cover alternative medicine. Ask your insurance provider if they provide this coverage. The more people that request coverage for this naturopathic medicine, the sooner the insurance industry will provide this service.

Top of Page

 

Stream

What is the Cost?

The cost of naturopathic health care may be an advantage, since it frequently eliminates the need for more costly surgery and hospitalization. In addition, the patient learns to make effective decisions that may prevent future health problems. Teaching people to take responsibility for their own health is a basic naturopathic principle.

Top of Page

 

Other Advantages of Naturopathic Healthcare

Treatments are highly individualized to each patient. The goal of naturopathic physicians is to understand the needs of the patient. This approach reflects the concern with treating the underlying source of illness and applying treatments that work with the body's natural healing mechanism, instead of against it.

Naturopathic medicine offers a viable alternative for people diagnosed and treated with conventional medicine. Naturopathic physicians typically treat people with colds, minor infections, allergies, muscle and joint problems, gynecological disorders, fatigue, and other poorly defined disorders. Often, these people have already gone the drug route, sometimes with little success, and want something more than pharmaceuticals with side effects.

Naturopathic medicine attemps to integrates the latest advances of scientific research with the ancient healing wisdom of traditional cultures. It is holistic in nature because it treats the whole person: physical body, mind, and spirit. The word “doctor” means teacher, striving to educate the people it treats, so that you have a say in your own health and wellness.

Top of Page

 

Naturopathic Medicine is Growing

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that one-third of the people surveyed used at least one unconventional therapy in the past year. This survey also showed that most people use alternative therapies along with conventional medical treatment, or after conventional medical treatment failed.

To many people, alternative or complementary medicine, as it is usually referred to, is more accessible, more humane, and more likely to treat the whole person rather than just the symptoms. People resent the way visits to conventional physicians so quickly lead to drugs being prescribed and the side effects that result from the use of these drugs. A survey conducted in 1992 found that 93 percent of the physicians polled had patients who asked them about unconventional treatments. This is up from 53 percent in 1989. Currently, many patients have as their primary physician a doctor of naturopathic medicine.

Top of Page

 

Wallowa Meadow