Naturopathic Medicine


Treating the whole person with individually tailored natural therapies.

considering Naturopathic Medicine?

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) defines naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles that underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic physicians are primary health care practitioners, whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.

The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is the federally recognized accrediting agency for naturopathic education. CNME accredited naturopathic medical colleges require the same premedical prerequisites as other types of medical schools and provide four years of graduate level medical training. The programs include intensive training in the standard basic, clinical, and diagnostic sciences, as well as naturopathic assessment and therapeutics; and includes two years of supervised clinical internship. Graduates receive an N.D. or N.M.D., depending on the state where the college is located. After passing a rigorous national board examination they become licensed naturopathic physicians and most enter a post-graduate residency.

There are now naturopathic licensure laws in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Naturopaths also practice in other states under other laws (i.e., as licensed acupuncturists or chiropractors) or without official government sanction (i.e., as nutritionists or natural health consultants). However, without standards in the states without licensing laws, individuals with little or no formal education may also proclaim themselves naturopathic doctors with diploma mill “degrees” or purchased certificates.

Naturopathic medicine has been a distinct natural health care profession for over one hundred years. It is based on the timeless philosophy of Vis Medicatrix Naturae, “the healing power of nature.” This means that all true healing is the result of the body/mind’s natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians help to remove the obstacles to cure and employ natural therapies that strengthen and stimulate the body/mind’s own healing processes. They treat the whole person (i.e. physically, mentally, and socially) with natural health care tailored to meet the individual’s personal needs.

Naturopathic physicians use a variety of natural therapies, including:
    Counseling (diet, lifestyle, and psychological)
    Clinical Nutrition
    Botanical Medicines (herbs)
    Physical medicine
    Functional Medicine
    Bio-identical Hormone Therapy

In the states where naturopathic doctors are licensed to practice medicine they provide the standard services of primary care. For example, in Washington state, naturopathic physicians are covered by health insurance and are licensed to prescribe most pharmaceuticals, do minor surgery, give IVs, provide preventive care, and diagnose disease using the full range of diagnostic laboratory tests and clinical exams; most do a general family practice, including offering gynecology and pediatrics. Some doctors specialize in different clinical areas, such as oncology, cardiology, chronic disease, anti-aging medicine, obstetrics, research, etc. Naturopathic physicians function as part of the larger medical community and collaborate with both alternative and conventional specialists whenever indicated.

Homeopathy is one distinct and powerful type of natural therapy used by naturopathic physicians. Homeopathy has its own specially prepared natural remedies and rules of practice. These remedies are made by homeopathic pharmacies according to FDA regulations. A special dilution process makes homeopathic remedies very safe while greatly enhancing their effectiveness. Homeopathic remedies are not the same as herbal or nutritional supplements. A variety of different types of practitioners (i.e. N.D.s, M.D.s, D.C.s, etc.) may use some homeopathy. However, a practitioner would be called a homeopath only if it was their specialty. Dr. Bradley is both a naturopathic physician and a homeopath. Most patients Dr. Bradley sees receive homeopathy as one their main treatment modalities.

Click here to learn more about naturopathic medicine, its history, and principles.

For information from the national organization for licensed naturopathic physicians visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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The focus of conventional medicine is on the disease. In contrast, the focus of naturopathic medicine is on the person and restoring health.