Naturopathic Medicine

What Is Naturopathy?
Naturopathic Principles
What Naturopathic Doctors Do
Are Naturopathic Doctors Licensed?
What Is Their Education & Training?

What Is Naturopathy?

Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care profession which emphasizes the prevention and treatment of disease, maintenance of optimal health, and promotion of the individual�s inherent self-healing process which naturopathic physicians refer to as the "vis medicatrix naturae," the healing power of nature.

It blends centuries-old natural, nontoxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care.

Naturopathic medicine has been shown to be effective for treating most health problems, both acute and chronic. Some of the therapies most commonly utilized by NDs include clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical medicine (such as myotherapy and hydrotherapy), natural childbirth, oriental medicine, counseling and stress management, and minor surgery.


Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic doctors follow six key principles in their practices:

  • The Healing Power of Nature. Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in each of us which is both ordered and intelligent. NDs act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this self-healing ability.

  • Identify and Treat the Cause. NDs seek to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

  • First Do No Harm. NDs follow these precepts to avoid harming the patient:
    • Utilize methods and medical substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnoses and treat.
    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms.
    • Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual�s self healing process.
    • Refer for appropriate treatment when naturopathic therapies are inappropriate.

  • Doctor as Teacher. NDs educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of a good doctor-patient relationship.

  • Treat the Whole Person. NDs treat each patient taking into account individual physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, genetic, environmental, social and other factors.

  • Prevention. NDs emphasize the prevention of disease�assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.


What Naturopathic Doctors Do

Naturopathic doctors (NDs):

  • Are primary care general practitioners trained to be experts in natural medicine.
  • Concentrate on whole person wellness; treatment is tailored to each individual patient and emphasizes prevention and self care.
  • Attempt to find the underlying causes of the patient�s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment.
  • Believe strongly in integrative medicine and cooperate with all other branches of medicine, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis and/or treatment when appropriate.


Are Naturopathic Doctors Licensed?

On September 22, 2003 then Gov. Gray Davis signed into law SB907, the Naturopathic Doctors Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2004. (See related story California 13th State to License NDs). After a year of establishing the state bureaucracy to implement the new law, the first naturopathic doctors were licensed in California in January 2005. NDs are licensed in 14 states: Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Kansas, Vermont; and the District of Columbia. However, there are naturopathic doctors in every state in the US. In states where naturopathic medicine is not recognized, NDs most commonly obtain other licenses and work within the scope of their practices while offering naturopathic care. There are active licensing efforts going on in many states.

The recent licensure of California naturopathic doctors is allowing us to greatly expand our services to the community. We are now offering complete women's health care services including gynecological examinations and testing as well as use of natural hormones. In the works are plans to give B12 and other nutrient shots as well as run nutrient IVs for those with chronic fatigue, cancer and other acute and chronic health problems. We also have more options for natural medical treatments and procedures than before, including expanded laboratory testing.


Education & Training of Naturopathic Doctors

Education of modern qualified naturopathic doctors is rigorous. Their education includes premedical undergraduate coursework, completion of a four year, residential, graduate level program at an accredited naturopathic medical college, two years of supervised clinical internship (and in some cases a one- or two-year postgraduate residency program). NDs study the same basic and clinical sciences as do other medical students as well as the full spectrum of natural medicines and therapies. To be licensed, NDs must then pass state board examinations and meet other requirements for licensure.

NDs are extensively trained in physical examination, laboratory testing, gynecological examinations, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, allergy testing, X-ray examinations and other diagnostic tests. NDs are the only primary care physicians trained in the use of a wide variety of natural therapies including nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and lifestyle counseling to restore and maintain good health. NDs can perform complete physical examinations including women's health exams and can order laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging.

They combine and adapt naturopathic medicine treatments to the needs of the individual patient based on a philosophy which acknowledges the patient as an active participant in the healing process.


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  SOMA Acupuncture & Natural Health Clinic   SOMA Acupuncture & Natural Health Clinic
Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
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