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- What is a Naturopathic Physician?
Frequently Asked Questions A service for consumers from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM) FAQ #2: What is naturopathic medicine? Naturopathic medicine is a distinct practice of medicine that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve outcomes while lowering health care costs. Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness, restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them. The Naturopathic Therapeutic Order™ identifies the natural order in which we believe all therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for damage.
The Naturopathic Order and approach to healthy is as follows…..
1. Remove Obstacles to Health. Health, the “natural state” of one’s body, is disturbed by obstacles that lead to disease. The first step in returning to health is to remove the entities that disturb health such as: poor diet, digestive disturbances, inappropriate and chronic stress levels, and individual disharmony. Naturopathic doctors construct a healthy regimen based on an individual’s “obstacles to health” to change and improve the terrain in which the disease developed. This allows additional therapeutics to have the most beneficial effects possible.
2. Stimulate the Self-Healing Mechanisms. NDs use therapies to stimulate and strengthen the body’s innate self-healing and curative abilities. These therapies include modalities such as
- Clinical nutrition
- Botanical medicines
- Constitutional hydrotherapy
- Trigger point therapy
3. Strengthen Weakened Systems. Systems that need repair are addressed at this level of healing. Naturopathic doctors have an arsenal of therapeutics available to enhance specific tissues, organs or systems 2 including:
- Lifestyle interventions
- Dietary modifications
- Botanical medicine
- Orthomolecular therapy (use of substances that occur naturally in the body such as vitamins, amino acids, minerals)
4. Correct Structural Integrity. Physical modalities used to improve and maintain skeletal and musculature integrity.
- Spinal manipulation
- Massage therapy
- Craniosacral therapy
5. Use Natural Substances to Restore and Regenerate. Naturopathic medicine’s primary objective is to restore health, not to treat pathology. However, when a specific pathology must be addressed, NDs employ safe, effective, natural substances that do not add toxicity or additionally burden the already distressed body
6. Use Pharmacologic Substances to Halt Progressive Pathology. NDs are trained in pharmacology and how to use pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. If their state license permits, they can prescribe these agents themselves or if not, refer to a conventional medical colleague.
7. High Force, Invasive Modalities such as Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy
We are trained to know when life, limb, or function must be preserved; NDs refer patients to MDs who are expertly trained in Major surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. At the same time,
NDs use complementary or supportive therapies to decrease side effects and increase the effectiveness of these invasive procedures.
While many naturopathic doctors are trained in primary care, like conventional medical doctors (MDs), some choose to specialize or focus their practices.
Specialty associations currently exist for Endocrinology, Environmental Medicine, Gastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatry, and Oncology.
How is A Naturopathic Physician different from a M.D. or D.O?
http://www.naturopathic.org/natfaqs#Trained and Licensed
Differences between how MDs and DOs and naturopathic doctors are trained
The general educational structure for naturopathic doctors is comparable to that of conventional medical doctors (MDs) and osteopathic doctors (DOs). In all three medical programs, the first year emphasizes biomedical sciences such as anatomy and biochemistry. Second year classes focus on the diagnostic sciences, including areas such as evidence-based medicine and physiological assessment. All programs progressively increase students’ problem-based learning and integrated coursework, enabling students to learn how different concepts affect one another.
After the first two years, the curricula of the three medical programs focus on applying medical knowledge to real-life situations with simultaneous classroom studies supporting this training. Third- and fourth-year naturopathic medical students have opportunities for hands-on clinical training and practice, often at their schools’ teaching clinics and off-site clinics. This period of clinical training is essential to these students’ education—so much so that clinical training is now being introduced during the first and second years of education at several AANMC-member schools. As a result, naturopathic medical students graduate with experience in diagnosing and treating patients, even before they begin formal practice.
Third- and fourth-year naturopathic medical students have required for hands-on clinical training and practice, often at their schools’ teaching clinics and off-site clinics. This period of clinical training is essential to these students’ education—so much so that clinical training is now being introduced during the first and second years of education at several AANMC-member schools.
A major difference between the training of the MDs and naturopathic doctors is medical residencies. MD residencies are mandated and regulated by conventional medical schools. As a result, many opportunities for residencies exist at a wide variety of medical facilities and are funded by the federal government.
Naturopathic medical residencies are not nearly as common because they are not yet required by most states (Utah is an exception) or funded by the federal government. In place of a residency, many new naturopathic doctors choose to practice with or shadow an experienced doctor before or while setting up their own practices.
Like MDs, a growing number of naturopathic doctors choose to specialize or focus their practices. Specialty associations currently exist for Endocrinology, Environmental Medicine, Gastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physicians, Psychiatry, and Oncology. In addition, while practicing Family Medicine, many naturopathic doctors choose an area of focus based on a therapeutic, condition, or population subset.