In the words of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, “Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process.”

This is one of the hardest modalities to describe, because it’s more multidimensional than most.  A naturopathic physician may employ a variety of tools.  Naturopathy is holistic, and heavily focused on preventive medicine, so these tools may include nutritional supplements, herbs, exercise & other lifestyle adjustments, etc., although more mainstream options (such as certain classes of medications) may be used in some instances.

There is a particular problem in naturopathy of confusion regarding a practitioner’s credentials.  Several online schools offer distance-based undergraduate degrees which they consider adequate to confer the title of “ND” (naturopathic doctor).  In many states, this title is not regulated, so anyone may claim it.  As you can probably imagine, this causes a good deal of confusion when the same title is applied both to the individual in that scenario, and also for the practitioner who has completed a 4-year post-graduate program in naturopathic medicine, completed a residency, and passed a licensure exam.

All this is to say know what you’re getting.  That undergraduate “ND” may have something of value to offer, but does not have training on par with the post-graduate-type “ND.”  (Some states differentiate by referring to the latter as an “NMD,” or “Naturopathic Medical Doctor.”)  Clarify what a practitioner’s training is before choosing whether to rely on him.


American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

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