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Washington, DC 20036
What Exactly Is Naturopathic Medicine?
As alternative and natural medicine becomes increasingly popular in the US, naturopathic doctors (NDs) are stepping forward as another option to the shortage of primary care physicians our country is currently approaching. But who are naturopathic doctors? Are they legitimate? Or are they just modern day “witch doctors” who give out herbs and spices? If you have never heard of this profession or have asked these questions, you’re not alone – but it’s time to set the record straight.
Naturopathic doctors are healthcare professionals who have similar training to conventional medical doctors (MDs). NDs require four years post-bachelor medical training at an accredited naturopathic medical school where basic and clinical science classes set the core curriculum. Alternative therapies such as botanical medicine, nutrition, hydrotherapy, physical manipulations and homeopathy, among others are emphasized as well. Their rigorous education is followed by a year long in-residence internship and two post-doctoral board exams. NDs are eligible to become licensed healthcare professionals in 25 U.S. states and territories.
Naturopathic medicine is a beautiful combination of ancient eastern medicine with modern day western medicine. But, most importantly the major distinction between a conventional doctor and an ND is the philosophy of medicine. NDs have an understanding that health is in fact our natural and inevitable state when we give our bodies the proper tools to thrive.
Additionally, signs and symptoms of disease are seen as indications that there are underlying imbalances within the body as opposed to something that needs to be suppressed. NDs are trained to treat the individual rather than the disease. So, don’t expect to be given a generic treatment plan for “X” disease when you see an ND. In fact, it is common for two patients to have the exact same diagnosis and given totally different treatment plans based on what those patients individually need to heal. They view the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self with a holistic eye and always emphasize a personalized approach to care, which is what their patients appreciate most.
They help patients achieve optimal wellness by creating the conditions for health, which may encompass dietary changes, targeted supplements and lifestyle modification. You will not find one-size-fits-all medicine with an ND.
Naturopathic medicine is a gentle, holistic, natural and science-based approach and could be a wonderful complement to anyone’s healthcare needs.