Naturopathic medicine involves holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention by focusing on maintaining wellness. The roots of the profession have been around for thousands of years, but mainstream culture just recently adapted naturopathy as an effective modality of health care.
Wellness can be more than a way of life—it can also be a rewarding career choice.
Discover the roots of this ancient healing tradition to learn naturopathic medicine's role in future health care, and why today is an excellent time to invest in a naturopathic degree.
The Difference Between an ND and MD
Naturopathic doctors and medical doctors both contribute to health care and patients' well being, but there are instrumental differences between the two professions. For example, a licensed ND attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD, but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.
In addition to a standard medical curriculum, an ND is required to complete four years of training in the following areas:
- Clinical nutrition
- Homeopathic medicine
- Botanical medicine
- Psychological counseling (to encourage people to make lifestyle changes in support of their personal health)
An ND takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician, just like MDs.
Naturopathic Medicine's Infrastructure
Since naturopathy is becoming increasingly popular in health care treatments, there are specific organizations that provide a professional seal of approval for NDs, naturopathic schools, and the industry in general. In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession's infrastructure is based on the following items:
- Accredited educational institutions
- Professional licensing by a growing number of states
- National standards of practice and care
- Peer review
- An ongoing commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research
Modern American naturopathic physicians (NDs) receive extensive training in, and use therapies that are primarily natural and nontoxic in these areas of study:
- Clinical nutrition
- Botanical medicine and flower essences healing
- Physical medicine
Many NDs have additional training and certification in acupuncture and midwifery. These contemporary NDs, who have attended naturopathic medical colleges recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, practice medicine as primary health care providers and are increasingly acknowledged as leaders in bringing about progressive changes in the nation's medical system.
Naturopathy as a Natural Healing Modality of Today
This infrastructure and training make naturopathy a powerful healing modality. For example, many diseases and conditions—such as ulcerative colitis, asthma, menopause, flu, obesity and chronic fatigue treatments—can be treated and cured using naturopathic medicine.
Naturopathic physicians also function within an integrated naturopathy framework, by referring patients to an appropriate medical specialist, such as an oncologist or a surgeon. Naturopathic therapies can be employed within that context to complement the treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a team-care approach that recognizes the needs of the patient to receive the best overall treatment most appropriate to his or her specific medical condition. And this has helped make naturopathy a booming profession in a wellness-minded society, making today a great time to get a naturopathic degree!