What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

A Naturopathic Doctor (naturopaths, ND or NMD) sometimes referred to as naturopathic medical doctors (NMD), are medical physicians specializing in natural medicine. In the United States, there are 3 types of medical doctors licensed to be Primary Care Physicians: Naturopathic physicians (naturopaths, ND or NMD), Allopathic physicians (allopaths, MDs), and Osteopathic physicians (osteopaths, DOs).

Warning about non-licensed people claiming to be doctors (see bottom of this page.)

How are Naturopathic doctors different?

Naturopathic doctors can be primary health care doctors or specialists in a particular field, such as environmental medicine, women’s health or cancer, etc. NDs emphasize prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process.

What do Naturopathic Doctors (ND or NMD) do?

Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and therapeutic modalities: clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth), physical manipulation and soft tissue work, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and health counseling/mind-body medicine.

What education do Naturopathic Doctors (ND or NMD) get?

Naturopathic doctors (ND or NMD) are educated in accredited, 4-year naturopathic medical colleges in both natural and conventional medicine and then do residencies. The first 2 years consist of the conventional medical core curriculum. The second two years cover all the modalities that NDs use to heal people, which include clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth), physical manipulation and soft tissue work, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and health counseling / mind-body medicine.

What type of rotations do Naturopathic Doctors do?

Naturopathic Doctors rotate through hospitals and public and private clinics. Dr. Kennedy’s rotations were:

  • Pre / Post-Op Naturopathic Care, Cardiac Surgery Unit, Arizona Heart Hospital, Phoenix, AZ
  • Cardiology, Private Practice, Dekker Weiss, NMD, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Pain Management, Valley Lutheran Pain Clinic, Klee Bethel, MD, Mesa, AZ
  • Pulmonology, Private Practice, Franklin Preiser, MD, Tempe, AZ
  • Family Medicine, Private Practice, Shiva Barton, ND, Cambridge, MA
  • Family Medicine, D’Adamo Naturopathic Clinic, Peter D’Adamo, ND, Stamford, CT
  • Primary Care, Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, Scottsdale, AZ

What licensing examination do Naturopathic Doctors take?

Naturopathic doctors take the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), which consists of two parts. NPLEX Part I is the Biomedical Science Examination (BSE) and is administered after the second year of naturopathic medical school. NPLEX Part II is the Core Clinical Science Examination (CCSE) and is administered after the fourth year of naturopathic medical school. After having graduated from an accredited 4-year naturopathic medical college, and passing 4 days of NPLEX exams, NDs may then take the licensure exams dealing with the law and the scope of practice for any state(s) in which they wish to be licensed.
* For more information please see: https://www.naturopathicmedicine.website/licensure-specialties/licensure/

Where can I find a licensed Naturopathic Doctor?

USA: The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) maintains a database of all AANP-member NDs that are searchable by location. https://naturopathic.org/ (Click the “Find a Doctor” button in the top right-hand corner)
CANADA: The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) maintains a database of member NDs. https://www.cand.ca/ (Search in the “Find your naturopathic doctor” field in the top right-hand corner)

And please see our Get Help page for a complete list of places to look to find help.

How long have Naturopathic Doctors been around?

Hippocrates, a physician who lived about 2400 years ago, formulated one of the main principles of naturopathic medicine, vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power of nature. The Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians was founded in 1909 and is the oldest association representing naturopathic doctors in North America. In Connecticut, naturopathic doctors have been licensed as Primary Care Providers (PCP) since 1923.
Dr. Kennedy was the first naturopath to ever be on staff, practice medicine, and teach as a clinical instructor at John Dempsey Hospital, part of the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Farmington, CT in 2005. He was on staff at the Hollfelder Center for Women’s Health, Carol & Ray Neag Cancer Clinic, and the Colon Cancer Clinic within the department of Gastroenterology.

What are the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic doctors are united in the Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine. Not only an oath, the Principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical education and naturopathic patient care. The Naturopathic Doctors’ Oath Summary below is provided by the AANMC – https://naturopathic.org/page/PrinciplesNaturopathicMedicine

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non-Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
A. Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
B. Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
C. Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.

* Warning about non-licensed people claiming to be naturopaths:

There are laypersons, who have earned a diploma or distance-learning degree in “naturopathy” from a non-accredited institution that claim to practice naturopathic medicine (naturopathy). Laypersons claiming to be naturopaths are not able to be licensed in any USA state or territory to practice naturopathic medicine.
However, they have founded their own organizations of which the titles imply that they are trained to do so, which is misleading and dangerous to the public. The American Naturopathic Medical Association (ANMA), the American Naturopathic Medical Accreditation Board (ANMAB), the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board (ANMCB), American Naturopathic Certification Board (ANCB), and the National Registry of Naturopathic Practitioners (NRNP) are all organizations for laypersons claiming to be naturopaths (naturopathic physicians) who do not have training in naturopathic medicine.
This is confusing, misleading, and dangerous to patients, as they may think they are seeing a naturopathic physician (naturopath), but may be actually seeing a layperson.

To see if your state or territory has licensed NDs, please see: https://www.naturopathicmedicine.website/licensure-specialties/licensure/

For more information on how to tell if an ND is a real doctor, please see: https://www.naturopathicmedicine.website/licensure-specialties/licensure/

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