In celebration of Naturopathic Medicine Week, we want to share some frequently asked questions about Naturopathic Medicine and Naturopathic Medical Doctors.
What is a licensed naturopathic physician?
A licensed naturopathic doctor is a medical doctor that focuses on natural approaches to healing. Just like a conventional doctor, a naturopathic doctor has attended four years of college and four years of a graduate-level naturopathic medical school. A naturopathic doctor is educated in the basic medical sciences, just like a conventional medical doctor. A naturopathic doctor also studies holistic, nontoxic approaches to healing and focuses on prevention, wellness, and optimizing both physical and mental health.
What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor and a medical doctor?
Naturopathic doctors are medical doctors who approach medicine with the mindset that the body is designed to heal itself. Unlike conventional medical doctors, naturopathic doctors focus on first diagnosing the root cause of an acute or chronic issue instead of simply alleviating symptoms. They have a range of natural therapies and often combine these natural therapies with more conventional approaches. They also help patients with lifestyle changes such as nutrition and exercise to help optimize health. While they have similar amounts of schooling, their philosophy of care is different from conventional medicine.
Is a naturopathic doctor able to be a primary care physician?
Yes. naturopathic doctors often act as patients’ primary care providers. A naturopathic doctor conducts annual exams, orders labs and conducts routine assessments. They can diagnose, treat acute and chronic conditions and prescribe treatments including medications, when needed. Similar to a conventional primary care physician, a naturopathic doctor will refer to a trusted network of specialists for things like broken bones and often naturopaths will work in concert with specialists such as oncologists, obstetricians, and physical therapists.
How do naturopathic doctors diagnose illnesses and conditions?
Similar to a conventional medical doctor, a naturopathic medical doctor conducts examinations and orders labs and tests to diagnose issues. Naturopathic doctors are known to spend significantly more time with patients to determine the root cause of an illness or condition so that they can treat underlying issues and not just symptoms. Naturopaths work to understand patients’ whole health including sleep, nutrition, activity and emotions.
Can naturopathic doctors write prescriptions?
Yes, naturopathic doctors can prescribe medications when needed. They typically work with patients using more natural approaches and therapies first, but they have the training and experience to prescribe and are allowed to prescribe according to state regulations.
What are the six principles of naturopathy?
The six principles of Naturopathic Medicine are:
1.) First, Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)
2.) The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix nature)
3.) Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle causam)
4.) Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
5.) Treat the Whole Person (Tolle totum)
6.) Prevention (Praevenic)