What is Naturopathic Medicine

Over the last few decades, the health conscious public has sought natural alternatives to conventional medicine...


Introduction to Naturopathy/Naturopathic Medicine
Dr. Melissa Dawahare


What is naturopathic medicine? Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is based on six principles. First, do no harm. Second, use the healing power of nature. Third, identify and treat the cause of disease and illness. Fourth, treat the whole person. Fifth, prevention of disease is emphasized. And finally, the doctor acts as a teacher. A naturopathic doctor (ND) or naturopathic medical doctor (NMD) is a primary care or general family care physician who is trained as an expert in natural medicine. Naturopathic physicians, also called naturopaths, cooperate with all other branches of medical science referring patients to other doctors for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.


In naturopathic healing, naturopathic doctors use physical exams, laboratory tests, prescription medications, x-rays, ultrasounds, gynecological exams, minor surgery, and other diagnostic tests just like conventional medical doctors. The main difference between mainstream medical doctors and naturopaths is that naturopathic doctors are the only primary care physicians clinically trained in the use of a wide variety of natural therapies.


The types of natural therapies a naturopathic physician offers for naturopathic healing can include clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical medicine, natural childbirth, oriental medicine, counseling, acupuncture, stress management, and many others.


A licensable naturopath is trained at a naturopathic medical college to have a solid foundation on what is naturopathic medicine’s role in the modern world. These colleges are four-year, graduate-level medical schools with admission requirements comparable to those of other medical schools. The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree (ND) is awarded after four years of classroom, clinical, and practical study are completed.


There are presently four naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) in the United States. They are Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ, and University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine in Bridgeport, CT.


Currently, 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In these locations, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from one of the four year residential naturopathic medical schools and pass extensive postdoctoral board examinations in order to receive a license. The 15 states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine and Minnesota. And effective July 2009, the list includes Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. For the requirements of your state and its definition of what is naturopathic medicine, contact your local health authorities.


Naturopathic medicine has been a distinct American health care profession for over 100 years. It experienced a decline in the middle of the 20th century with the rise of technological medicine, pharmaceutical drugs, and the idea that drugs and surgery could eliminate all diseases. Over the last few decades, the health-conscious public has sought to know what is naturopathic healing and other natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Now, natural medicine is highly prevalent in our health care world.



About the Author


Dr. Melissa Dawahare, ND, RN is a naturopathic medical doctor, a registered nurse, and shamanic practitioner who has over 12 years of clinical experience in mainstream and alternative healthcare. As a leading expert in health and wellness, she has helped hundreds of people end chronic pain, end depression, have more energy, lose weight, and solve all kinds of other health problems. Health, wellness, fitness, and helping people feel better are her passions!


Dr. Dawahare is a graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and the University of Iowa. She studied shamanism with Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman, and the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. She is the author of several successful books including, House Call: How Ordinary People Have Extraordinary Health and The ND Survival Guide for the Acupuncture Board Exam. She is also a public speaker and educates people about naturopathic medicine and shamanism. 
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