Naturopathic physicians use a blend of old and new in their approach to medicine, and yes – they are real doctors. According to Naturopathic.org, “A licensed naturopathic physician (ND) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD, but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.”
Naturopathic doctors place a special focus on looking at the underlying causes for symptoms that may be present, as opposed to focusing on treating the symptoms themselves. According to Michael Stanclift, ND, "Naturopathic medicine refers to an approach to treating people, and tends to favor natural and low-force interventions. Our treatments with patients might include dietary changes, supplementary nutrients, exercise, herbal medicine, pharmaceuticals or homeopathy.” As you might imagine, this more holistic approach looks at the whole self to help with overall wellness.
Why Seek the Care of a Naturopath
Many people who live a holistic lifestyle will choose the same type of care when it comes to their medical needs. For them, it’s the next natural step to look for healing through the mind-body connection, instead of a mindset that treats with drugs or surgery first.
Others seek a more natural option after they haven’t found the results they desire from a conventional doctor.
One mother turned to a Naturopath when her young son was diagnosed with molluscum warts by their pediatrician. She was told they were incurable, but would go away on their own in six months to a year. She couldn’t stand the thought of her son being in discomfort for that long, so she asked friends through the local food co-op and was recommending a licensed ND.
At their first visit, the Naturopath said by looking at his skin, tongue, and fingernails that his immune system was depressed. She advised an allergy elimination diet, which they followed strictly for a month, and by the third week, her son’s warts were completely gone and never came back.
What to Look For When Choosing a Naturopathic Doctor
There are only seven accredited naturopathic schools in North America. In short, if their school is not on this list, look elsewhere.
- Bastyr University
- Boucher Institute Of Naturopathic Medicine
- Canadian College Of Naturopathic Medicine
- National University Of Natural Medicine
- National University Of Health Sciences
- Southwest College Of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences
- University Of Bridgeport College Of Naturopathic Medicine
A degree from an accredited program is important and ensures that the naturopathic physician is eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), which is required to obtain a license to practice.
It should be noted that not all states license naturopathic doctors, which may limit the capacity in which they are able to practice, but the training and knowledge base is still extremely important and does not limit their ability to be a vital part of your health and wellness plan.
Currently the following states have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
To check for updates on legislative action and ways you can help, check out this resource at naturopathic.org
How to Find a Naturopathic Physician
Unfortunately there isn't one central and perfect system built for finding a qualified naturopathic doctor, however there are several sites you can try along with an old fashioned Google search (try searching "naturopathic doctor in (your city here)”.
Don't be surprised if the number available in your state is low — especially if you are a state that does not offer licensing.
It doesn't mean that they don't exist, but it does mean that it's a bit harder for them to work where you live.
A few websites you might try searching on are:
Once your find a physician, be sure to check their reviews (if available) and their credentials — keeping in mind the educational programs listed above. If you are unable to find a naturopathic physician using the resources above, consider reaching out to a local midwife association, chiropractic office, or even a natural parenting or birth group (search for one in your area on Facebook groups!) These groups are often helpful and interconnected in some way — or at least enough to get a decent recommendation.