What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine focuses more on the person rather than the illness.
The naturopathic perspective believes:
- that each person’s body has the innate ability to heal itself
- that more gentle therapies should be used first
- that the Doctor serves as a teacher
- that nature can provide good medicine and
- that the underlying cause is what we should be treating rather than just focusing on treating symptoms.
Naturopathic medicine, sometimes called “naturopathy,” is as old as healing itself and as new as the latest discoveries in biochemical sciences. In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure is based on accredited educational institutions, professional licensing by a growing number of states, national standards of practice and care, peer review, and an ongoing commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Modern American naturopathic physicians (NDs) receive extensive training in and use of therapies that are primarily natural (hence the name naturopathic) and nontoxic, including:
- clinical nutrition
- botanical medicine
- hydrotherapy, physical medicine
Many NDs have additional training and certification in acupuncture and home birthing. These contemporary NDs, who have attended naturopathic medical colleges recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, practice medicine as primary health care providers and are increasingly acknowledged as leaders in bringing about progressive changes in the nation’s medical system.
Looking to the Future
Today, licensed naturopathic physicians are experiencing noteworthy clinical successes, providing leadership in innovative natural medical research, enjoying increasing political influence, and looking forward to an unlimited future potential. Both the American public and policy makers are recognizing and contributing to the resurgence of the comprehensive system of health care practiced by NDs. In 1992, Congress created the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), formerly known as the Office of Alternative Medicine, and invited leading naturopathic physicians (educators, researchers, and clinical practitioners) to serve on key federal advisory panels and to help define priorities and design protocols for state-of-the-art alternative medical research. In 1994, the NIH selected Bastyr University as the national center for research on alternative treatments for HIV/AIDS. At a one-million-dollar level of funding, this action represented the formal recognition by the federal government of the legitimacy and significance of naturopathic medicine.
Meanwhile, the number of new NDs is steadily increasing, and licensure of naturopathic physicians is expanding into new states. By April of 1999, eleven of fifty states had naturopathic licensing laws:
- New Hampshire