Frequently asked questions about Naturopathic Medicine

Q: What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is a unique and comprehensive approach to improving health and treating illness. Focusing on prevention, and using natural substances and treatments, naturopathic doctors support and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.

The primary goal of naturopathic treatment is to address the cause of illness, rather than simply treat or suppress symptoms. The patient is seen as a whole person and the naturopathic doctor takes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions into account when diagnosing and developing a treatment plan.

Q: How are Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s) trained?

Naturopathic doctors take a minimum of three years pre-medical studies at university, followed by four years at one of seven recognized colleges of naturopathic medicine. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) was established in February 2001 to propel and foster the naturopathic medical profession by actively supporting the academic efforts of accredited and recognized schools of naturopathic medicine. AANMC offers seven accredited naturopathic medical programs and eight campus locations in North America. Additional information on naturopathic schools can be found on the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges Web site.

The education encompasses basic medical sciences, naturopathic principles and therapeutics, and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience.

In regulated (or licensed) states and provinces across North America, graduates must also pass rigorous standardized exams to qualify to practice. Currently, 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing or regulation laws for naturopathic doctors. Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state’s law.

Q: What treatments do ND’s use?

Clinical Nutrition
Botanical Medicine
Homeopathy
Physical Medicine
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Lifestyle Counseling

Q: What types of health problems can be treated?

Virtually all chronic and most acute conditions may benefit from treatment by naturopathic doctors. People of all ages can be helped. Common complaints seen by Naturopathic doctors including; chronic colds and flus, digestive problems, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, PMS, menopause, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and weight loss.

Q: What’s the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

The difference is twofold: First of all homeopaths only use homeopathy as a treatment tool, whereas Naturopathic doctors use homeopathy as one of several treatment tools.

Q: What’s the difference between a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Natural Medicine?

A Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) is not regulated and licensed in the United States or Canada.

Anyone, regardless of training and education, can call themselves a Doctor of Natural Medicine. There is no independent regulatory body that ensures that these individuals have appropriate training, or that standards of practice are being maintained. If a patient/client has any concerns their only recourse is a court of law. Most insurance companies only cover practitioners that are licensed.

In the State of Washington the regulatory board information can be found at Washington State Department of Health Naturopathy Program

Health Professions Quality Assurance
PO Box 47865
Olympia, WA 98504-7865
Phone: (360) 236-4700
Fax: (360) 236-4818

Q: How do I know if I’m seeing a licensed naturopath?

Washington State Department of Health Naturopathy Program maintains an up-to-do list of registered naturopaths in Washington State.

Both www.naturopathic.org and www.wanp.org offer information regarding licensing and provider information.