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Frequently Asked Questions About Naturopathic Medicine


What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a system of comprehensive, general health care based upon naturopathic philosophy, scientific evidence and clinical theory.

Who are Naturopathic Doctors (NDs)?

  • NDs are general practitioners trained as experts in natural medicine.
  • NDs make every attempt to use the most natural, conservative treatments possible, however NDs are trained to recognize the need for conventional therapies when indicated.
  • NDs work collaboratively with MDs, DOs, DCs, and other healthcare professionals and refer patients as appropriate.
  • NDs also have knowledge in drug/nutrient interactions and drug/herb interactions.

Are Naturopathic Doctors new?

  • No, the first U.S. naturopathic society was formed in 1896. Naturopathic medicine has been continuously licensed in Connecticut since 1908.
  • Naturopathic doctors are currently licensed in 17 states, two U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C.

What is their training?

  • Naturopathic doctors complete a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine (ND or NMD) degree - earned from a four year, graduate level, federally and regionally accredited naturopathic medical schools.
  • The curriculum of these schools is similar to conventional medical schools in terms of basic sciences and clinical courses. Clinical studies concentrate on conventional diagnostic studies, scientifically-based natural therapeutics, as well as supervised clinical training.
  • Naturopathic schools are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), through the U.S. Department of Education and regional education accrediting agencies.

What are NDs trained to do?

Naturopathic training includes, but is not limited to: physical examinations, laboratory testing, clinical and physical diagnosis, pharmacology, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and nutritional supplementation.

Is there a demand?

  • More than 80 million Americans turn to complementary and/or alternative medicine every year.1
  • A Harvard Medical School survey found that 68 percent of adults have used at least one form of CAM therapy.2

Is naturopathic medicine cost-effective?

Naturopathic medicine focuses on prevention, patient involvement, noninvasive methods and appropriate use of technology.
A landmark study released in September 2004 at a congressional hearing found potential cost savings resulting from daily use of calcium and folic acid could save $15 billion in health care costs.3

Is it safe?

The licensed naturopathic profession has an extraordinary safety record. An examination of malpractice insurance rating scales for claims shows naturopathic physicians have the lowest incidence of malpractice claims of all licensed primary health care professions.4

Why is licensure important?

  • Licensure will allow NDs to practice as trained, namely to diagnose and treat disease using naturopathic principles.
  • Additionally, licensing naturopathic doctors provides for regulation of the profession and increased public safety in accessing the services of naturopathic doctors.
  • Licensure sets minimum standards for the education and training required to become a qualified naturopathic doctor. This allows the public to make informed choices regarding their natural healthcare.

Are there reliable websites?

The official website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): www.naturopathic.org.

1 Institute For Health and Healing at California Pacific Medical Center, March 2002
2 Annals of Internal Medicine, August 2001
3 Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, Health Impact Study, http://www.supplementinfo.org/healthimpacts/healthimpacts.htm
4 Washington Health Casualty rate N.D.s as .7, at the bottom of the risk scale below dermatologists and family practitioners who do not perform surgery.