WHAT IT IS
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession that is regulated by federal accreditation and state licensing bodies. Naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health care providers where they work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, and community health care centers across the United States and Canada. NDs can practice both individual and family health care. In the states where I practice, Oregon and Maine, naturopathic doctors are recognized as primary care physicians, howeverthe scope for naturopathic doctors varies greatly among states.
Unlike a lot of conventional medicine, naturopathic medicine is oriented towards prevention and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. Naturopathic physicians are trained to use pharmaceutical drugs when necessary, however, the emphasis is on natural healing agents. Naturopathic philosophy is founded on six primary principles which inform the way we work.Primary Principles:
Primum non nocere: First, do no harm
Vis medicatrix naturae: Cooperate with the healing power of nature
Tolle causam: Identify and treat the root cause
Docere: Doctor as teacher
Tolle totum: Treat the whole person
Praevenire: Focus on prevention
TRAINING AND ACCREDITATION
The first two years of naturopathic medical school are similar to conventional medical school in the sense that the education covers the essential basic science courses (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, etc.) for the same number of hours of training that MDs get, followed by a basic science board exam. In the latter two years of medical school, we learn to blend natural and conventional treatment modalities, with the intention of using the least invasive and most effective means possible to stimulate healing. Some of these treatment tools include hydrotherapy, homeopathy, nutrition, botanical medicine, pharmaceuticals, and mind-body medicine, as well as an in-depth understanding of diagnostics, imaging, and laboratory interpretation.
In order to become licensed, naturopathic physicians must graduate from an accredited four-year program and pass the two-part licensing board exam (basic science and clinical). Postgraduate training varies; some NDs choose to complete an accredited residency, while others go straight into practice. After graduation and passing my board exams, I completed a 2-year accredited women’s health residency with rotations in gynecology, general endocrinology, and reproductive endocrinology.
As a naturopathic women’s health care provider, I individualize treatment plans using a variety of modalities including:
Amino acid therapy
Pharmaceuticals (only when absolutely necessary)
Holistic Pelvic Care™, a physical medicine modality that brings balance and tone to the pelvic floor