Naturopathic Medicine FAQs
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine is a unique and distinct system of health care that emphasizes the use of prevention and natural therapeutics. The doctors who practice naturopathic medicine, called naturopathic doctors (NDs), are trained to serve as primary care general practitioners who are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of both acute and chronic health conditions.
Naturopathic doctors are guided by six principles: (1) Do No Harm; (2) The Healing Power of Nature; (3) Find the Cause; (4) Treat the Whole Person; (5) Preventive Medicine; and, (6) Doctor as Teacher. This set of principles, emphasized throughout a naturopathic doctor's training, outlines the philosophy guiding the naturopathic approach to health and healing and forms the foundation of this distinct health care practice.
Naturopathic doctors use a variety of natural and non-invasive therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, traditional chinese medicine, physical medicine, and counseling. Naturopathic treatments are effective in treating a wide variety of conditions without the need for additional intervention. Naturopathic doctors are also able to function within an integrated framework, and naturopathic therapies can be used to complement treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a patient-centered approach that strives to provide the most appropriate treatment for an individual's needs.
Naturopathic Medicine: 100 Frequently Asked Questions covers everything you want and need to know about naturopathic doctors and naturopathic medicine
How are naturopathic doctors educated, trained, and licensed?
Accredited naturopathic medical schools are four-year, in-residence, hands-on medical programs consisting of a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training. Naturopathic doctors require the same premedical undergraduate coursework required by other schools of medicine; a four year, federally recognized, graduate school program with two year supervised clinical internship.
Differences between how MDs and DOs and naturopathic doctors are trained
The general educational structure for naturopathic doctors is comparable to that of conventional medical doctors (MDs) and osteopathic doctors (DOs). In all three medical programs, the first year emphasizes biomedical sciences such as anatomy and biochemistry. Second year classes focus on the diagnostic sciences, including areas such as evidence-based medicine and physiological assessment. All programs progressively increase students’ problem-based learning and integrated coursework, enabling students to learn how different concepts affect one another.
After the first two years, the curricula of the three medical programs focus on applying medical knowledge to real-life situations with simultaneous classroom studies supporting this training. Third- and fourth-year naturopathic medical students have opportunities for hands-on clinical training and practice, often at their schools’ teaching clinics and off-site clinics. This period of clinical training is essential to these students’ education—so much so that clinical training is now being introduced during the first and second years of education at several AANMC-member schools. As a result, naturopathic medical students graduate with experience in diagnosing and treating patients, even before they begin formal practice.
Accredited schools & Examinations
There are currently seven accredited schools with eight campus locations in the United States and Canada. A degree from an accredited medical school is required for licensure in Kansas. These schools are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), have programmatic accreditation by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME)—the recognized accrediting body for naturopathic medical programs in North America. The exam required to qualify for naturopathic doctor licensure is administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) is a two-part examination. Only students and graduates from accredited or candidate naturopathic programs are eligible to sit for the NPLEX. Passing the NPLEX is required before a doctor of naturopathic medicine can be licensed by Kansas
Licensure and certification
Licensure in Kansas is designed to protect the public by ensuring that certain minimum competency requirements are met. They also set standards for the profession. Naturopathic doctors have been licensed and regulated in Kansas since 2003, and are regulated by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
Is naturopathic medicine safe?
Yes. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve health outcomes. As a health care consumer evaluating whether naturopathic medicine is safe, you should be aware of the following facts:
Numerous research studies of naturopathic treatments for common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic low back pain, and anxiety have shown that naturopathic medicine is both safe and effective.
Licensed naturopathic doctors complete a rigorous, four-year, in-residence, science-based, post-graduate medical education consisting of 4,100 hours of coursework and clinical training at an accredited naturopathic medical school.
Medical malpractice insurance rates for naturopathic doctors are among the lowest of any medical services provider.
Few medical treatments are 100% safe, but some are safer than others.
Significant research shows that lifestyle-change programs that focus on nutritional interventions, exercise, and emotional well-being can sometimes reverse the progression of chronic disease safely and effectively. Naturopathic medical treatment plans focus on these and other therapies, such as botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, and counseling to name just a few.
Naturopathic doctors are trained to diagnose and evaluate health conditions as primary care physicians and understand when and if a referral to a conventional health care provider is indicated, or if further diagnostic evaluation is necessary.
Naturopathic and conventionally trained doctors may also work together to deliver the most safe and effective health care.
How does naturopathic medicine lower health care costs?
As concerns grow over high healthcare costs and poor health outcomes in the United States, a growing number of policymakers, health care practitioners, and other stakeholders are calling for an expansion of the focus of our healthcare system to keeping people healthy in addition to providing medical treatment after a person gets sick. To accomplish this change, health care professionals from a broad range of disciplines must come together in primary care teams. Trained as primary care doctors and to emphasize prevention, naturopathic doctors have a central role to play in these efforts.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct practice of medicine that emphasizes wellness and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically. Licensed naturopathic doctors are trained in applying naturopathic therapies as they should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for harm. This approach leads to improved outcomes and lower health care costs.
Here are some ways naturopathic medicine lowers health care costs:
1. Address the root causes of illness.
2. Offer less expensive diagnosis and treatment.
3. Reduce the need for expensive surgical procedures, when appropriate.
4. Decrease costs associated with adverse reactions to prescription drugs.
5. Reduce the incidence of illnesses and fatalities caused by hospital errors.
6. Lower malpractice rates, resulting in reduced patient costs.
7. Offer disease prevention.
Where Can I Learn More About Naturopathic Medicine?
Find a local Kansas Naturopathic Doctor
Visit Naturopathic.org to learn more about the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians