29-1199.04 – Naturopathic Physicians
By Bryan Wright
Naturopathic doctors and medical doctors share many similarities, but have a different approach to medical care for patients. While naturopathic doctors, or NDs, are educated in the same biomedical sciences as medical doctors, NDs use holistic and nontoxic approaches to healing, emphasizing disease prevention, nutrition, and wellness. While medical doctors emphasize treating symptoms, NDs focus on treating the root causes of illness and enlisting the body’s self-healing abilities. NDs treat patients of all ages, from pediatrics to geriatrics. As with other doctors, NDs interview patients to document symptoms, review a patient’s medical history and make their diagnosis, recommendation and prescription. Instead of prescription drugs, NDs often use naturally occurring remedies that can be found in foods, herbs, and vitamin supplements. They also use alternative therapeutic regimens such as traditional Indian Ayurvedic- or Chinese medicine, homeopathy, mindfulness training, and biofeedback. To clarify a diagnosis, they may order diagnostic procedures and lab tests from other professionals, and consult with other healthcare professionals as needed. Naturopathic doctors work in private practice, clinics, and in community health centers that offer other alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic. They attend four-year, graduate-level, naturopathic medical schools where they study anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, pathology, diagnosis, and holistic and nontoxic therapies. Currently, state licensure is available in some states, while other states require NDs to practice under another medical degree.