Some of the most common questions about Naturopathy:

“Naturo” what?!


What is Naturopathic Medicine or Naturopathy?

Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy or natural medicine) is a complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the body’s innate ability to heal and maintain itself.

Naturopathic philosophy favors a holistic approach, and finding the least invasive measures necessary for symptom improvement or resolution, thus encouraging minimal use of surgery and unnecessary drugs.

Naturopathic practice includes many different modalities and practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments.

Naturopathy, technically, is “Nature Cure” combined with “Homeopathy”. Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care profession emphasizing:

  • maintenance of optimal health
  • prevention and treatment of disease
  • promotion of the individual’s inherent self-healing process

What is a Naturopath or Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopaths prefer to use natural remedies such as herbs and foods rather than surgery or synthetic drugs. Graduates of a naturopathic medical school in North America are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment. If the patient does not respond to these treatments, they are generally referred to physicians who utilize standard medical care to treat the disease or condition. Within the United States, some states allow naturopathic doctors to prescribe pharmaceutical medicines and perform minor surgeries.

A Naturopath is in fact a Physician (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine). They are Physicians who have classic medical training PLUS extra training in Natural Therapeutics.

Naturopathic medicine accomplishes health care using holistic diagnosis in conjunction with the following therapies:

  • botanical medicine
  • clinical nutrition
  • homeopathic medicine
  • homebirths
  • hormone balancing
  • hydrotherapy
  • lifestyle counseling
  • minor surgery
  • orthomolecular medicine
  • pharmaceutical medicine
  • physical medicine
  • traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture

How are Naturopathic Physicians trained?

All modern licensed Naturopathic Physicians have a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine degree from a federally recognized medical school. Their education includes:

  • A competitive application and admission process
  • The same premedical undergraduate coursework required by other schools of medicine (like MD’s, DO’s and Chiropractors)
  • Graduation from a four-year, federally recognized, naturopathic medical school
  • Two full years of supervised clinical internship
  • Optional residency programs

Naturopathic medical students study the same basic and clinical sciences as do other medical students, and in addition, a full spectrum of natural medicines and therapies.

How do Naturopathic Doctors, or Naturopathic Physicians, diagnose and treat people?

As primary care providers, naturopathic physicians use:

  1. Standard medical diagnostic techniques such as extensive health history, physical examination, blood tests, radiology, and other standard laboratory procedures. Naturopathic Physicians also have the ability to use alternative labs when necessary to properly diagnose patients and provide the best treatments.
  2. Holistic interpretation of both standard and alternative laboratory tests, physical examination and history taking in order to find the underlying cause of the disease process.
  3. Use natural medicines and therapies as the first line of treatment, and rational use of drugs and surgery. Naturopathic Doctors in the state of Arizona are legally able to not only prescribe prescription medications, but to take patients off of prescription medications when appropriate.

With advanced board certifications, some naturopathic physicians also practice as certified specialists.

Are Naturopathic Doctors licensed?

There are several states/provinces in the US, Canada, and Australia where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed. It is important to get a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in order to assure their training. In unlicensed states lesser-trained people can use the name Naturopathic Doctor as if they were physicians, when they are not.

Naturopathic Principles:

Primum Non Nocere – First of all, do no harm.
Vis Medicatrix Naturae – Act in cooperation with the healing power of nature.
Tolle Causam – Address the fundamental causes of disease.
Tolle Totum – Heal the whole person through individualized treatment.
Docere – Teach the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine.

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