Naturopathic Medicine was founded upon a holistic philosophy and combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic physicians (also known as N.D.’s) are trained to treat a broad range of health conditions and help people of all ages. Naturopathic physicians are the highest trained practitioners in the broadest scope of naturopathic medical modalities.
Scope of Practice for a Naturopathic Physician
A Naturopathic physician is a primary care provider trained in the field of natural medicine. Naturopathic doctors perform comprehensive physical examinations, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessment, as well as order x-ray, ultrasound, and other necessary diagnostic imaging tests. N.D.’s are also trained in a wide variety of natural therapies, such as botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, and physical medicine.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine upholds the highest of standards through the adherence to the principles listed below. The father of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahneman, sums up these principles through this quote: "The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extent, in the shortest, most reliable, and most harmless way, on easily comprehensible principles".
First Do No Harm: Three guidelines are used to avoid harm to the patient. First, utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects. Use the least force necessary to diagnose and treat. Second, avoid the harmful suppression of symptoms. Third, acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
The Healing Power of Nature: We recognize an inherent self-healing process in each patient which is an intelligent process. We act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery. We aim to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process in every way possible.
Find and Treat the Cause: Every illness has an underlying cause. We aim to identify and remove the cause, rather than eliminate or suppress symptoms. Goals are to restore function and balance.
Doctor As Teacher: We aim to educate our patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. We also recognize and encourage the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship, which is enforced through teaching, education, and compliance.
Treat the Whole Person: We aim to treat each patient as an individual with physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, spiritual, and social compartments. A patient is not a disease. We also aim to honor the diversity, uniqueness, and individuality in each patient. We do not judge.
Prevention: We aim to emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease. Through these principles, appropriate interventions in partnership with our patients aim to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
The Education of a Naturopathic Physician
In addition to the basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, naturopathic education includes therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, pharmacology and minor surgery.
A Licensed naturopathic physician (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, a naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, and psychological counseling. In addition to clinical training in school clinics, students are required to attain further knowledge through preceptorships with various ND and MD practitioners. A naturopathic physician must pass fifteen rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state as a primary care physician. Go to the "Links" page for more information regarding the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians or the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges.
The Naturopathic Physician’s Oath
I dedicate myself to the service of humanity as a practitioner of the art and science of Naturopathic medicine.
I will honor my teachers and all who have preserved and developed this knowledge and dedicate myself to supporting the growth and evolution of Naturopathic medicine. I will endeavor to continually improve my abilities as a healer through study, reflection, and genuine concern for humanity. I will impart knowledge of the advanced healing arts to dedicated colleagues and students.
Through precept, lecture, and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves, our families, and future generations.
According to my best ability and judgment, I will use methods of treatment which follow the principles of Naturopathic medicine:
First of all, to do no harm.
To act in cooperation with the Healing Power of Nature.
To address the fundamental causes of disease.
To heal the whole person through individualized treatment.
To teach the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine.
To recognize the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient interaction.
I will conduct my life and the practice of Naturopathic health care with vigilance and integrity, and freedom from prejudice. I will abstain from voluntary acts of injustice and corruption. I will keep confidential whatever I am privileged to witness, whether professionally or privately, that should not be divulged.
With my whole heart, before this gathering of witnesses, as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, I pledge to remain true to this oath.