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Home | FAQ | FAQ: Naturopathic Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions: Naturopathic Medicine

Is naturopathic medicine new?
Is naturopathic medicine scientific?
What is the education of a naturopathic physician?
How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine?
What treatments does a naturopathic physician employ?
How is a Naturopathic doctor different from a Homeopath?
Are naturopathic physicians opposed to drugs and major surgery?
How do ND's interact with other health professionals?
Are there unlicensed "naturopaths" in the U.S?
Is naturopathic medicine covered by insurance?
I am seeing a medical doctor (MD). Should I tell the physicians about each other?
What is an appointment with a naturopathic physician like?
How many times will I have to see my Naturopathic doctor?

Is naturopathic medicine new?
Naturopathic medicine is as old as healing itself and as new as the latest discoveries in medical sciences. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates, who is often considered the earliest predecessor of contemporary medicine, stated that “nature is the healer of all diseases”. The word “physician” originates from the Greek root meaning “from nature.”
In the US, naturopathic medicine has been a distinct healthcare profession for over 100 years. By the early 20th century, more than 20 naturopathic medical colleges existed in US and naturopathic physicians were licensed in a majority of states. By the 1920s, naturopathic medical convention attracted more than 10,000 practitioners. Naturopathic medicine experienced a temporary decline in the middle of 20th century with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry and medical technology. Over the last three decades, more people than ever are seeking and benefiting from naturopathic medical care, and the number of naturopathic doctors is growing at a record rate to accommodate this increased demand.
Is naturopathic medicine scientific? Back to Top
Naturopathic medicine incorporates scientific medical advances with its own unique body of knowledge that has evolved and was refined over centuries. Most of the therapies that are used by naturopathic doctors have been scientifically validated, especially in the areas of acupuncture, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy. Research departments at naturopathic medical schools conduct extensive clinical studies to evaluate existing methods and develop new alternative therapies. These studies are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
What is the education of a naturopathic physician? Back to Top
Naturopathic physicians (ND) receive four-year undergraduate training in standard pre-medical courses followed by four to five years of graduate medical training, including a two-year clinical internship. The rigorous academic curriculum includes training in the medical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and neuroscience. They are trained in clinical diagnosis, pathology and such specific topics as pediatrics, gynecology, oncology, dermatology and gastroenterology. Overall, academic training in medical sciences of NDs and MDs is similar. Additionally, NDs are trained in natural therapeutic techniques and holistic treatment principles. In order to get licensed, NDs have to graduate from an accredited naturopathic medical school and pass two national board examinations.
How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine? Back to Top
The main difference is in philosophical approach. Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness with emphasis on prevention, while taking individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors into account. It attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medical substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects. More and more MDs are adopting naturopathic remedies, but they are not trained to apply them.
What treatments does a naturopathic physician employ? Back to Top
Naturopathic physicians use therapies such as botanical medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, clinical nutrition, lifestyle modifications, counseling, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, natural childbirth, minor surgery, and limited drug therapy. They apply these treatments according to the naturopathic principles.
How is a Naturopathic doctor different from a Homeopath? Back to Top
Naturopathic doctors are trained in homeopathy and utilize it as one of many different treatments. Many Naturopathic doctors choose to specialize in homeopathy and use it as their primary modality of choice. Homeopaths typically practice "classical homeopathy" which utilizes homeopathy as the one and only treatment for the individual.
Are naturopathic physicians opposed to drugs and major surgery? Back to Top
No. Naturopathic physicians are not opposed to drugs or surgery when these methods are necessary. However, for many diseases and conditions (a few examples are ulcerative colitis, asthma, arthritis, flu, obesity, and chronic fatigue), treatments used by naturopathic physicians can be primary and curative.
How do ND's interact with other health professionals? Back to Top
Naturopathic physicians could function within an integrated framework by cross-referring patients to and from other practitioners, such as MDs, specialists, DOs, psychotherapists, and chiropractors. Also, naturopathic therapies can be employed to complement conventional medical treatments. 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.
Are there unlicensed "naturopaths" in the U.S? Back to Top
Yes. Unfortunately, not all states regulate naturopathic medicine. This allows some people to obtain questionable degrees from brief correspondence courses, short seminars, or from schools that give credit for life experience and do not require clinical training. Such degrees are not recognized by state degree-authorizing bodies. The State of Connecticut does regulate naturopathic medicine. It requires an ND degree from a nationally accredited four-year naturopathic medical school and certification by a national board. In licensing states, including Connecticut, NDs practice under jurisprudence of the Department of Public Health and are required to carry malpractice insurance. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ membership is limited to licensed NDs.
Is naturopathic medicine covered by insurance? Back to Top
Yes. More than 90 insurance carriers provide in-network and out-of-network coverage for naturopathic medicine. Please contact your insurance plan directly to verify your specific coverage for complementary and alternative medicine. Vitamins, herbs, natural supplements and tinctures are not currently covered by insurance plans.
I am seeing a medical doctor (MD). Should I tell the physicians about each other? Back to Top
Yes. It is very important that both of your physicians are aware of the treatment you are receiving as well as any medications, herbs or natural supplements you are taking. Naturopathic physicians are trained in herb/drug interactions and can help assure that any herbs or supplements you take are compatible with your medications.
What is an appointment with a naturopathic physician like? Back to Top
The first appointment with a naturopathic physician usually lasts 1 1/2 hours. It includes a thorough written questionnaire regarding your health history, your health concerns and your lifestyle. The physician will then conduct an in-depth interview about your health concerns and conduct a physical examination. A comprehensive treatment plan is sometimes developed during the first visit, though it is usually introduced over the next few visits. Return visits are dedicated to examination of laboratory testing, evaluation of patient’s progress and, if necessary, modifications to treatment protocols. Follow-up appointments last from 45 min to 1hour.
How many times will I have to see my Naturopathic doctor? Back to Top
This depends on several factors: 1) nature and severity of the condition; 2) patient’s response to treatment modalities; 3) individual’s healing capacity; and 4) patient’s compliance with the treatment plan.
Our goal is to bring the individual to a greater level of health. We pride ourselves on providing the best individualized patient care by truly listening to our patients and selecting treatments that best meet the needs of each patient.
Please take advantage of our free 15 min. phone consultation. To make an appointment, please contact White Oak Center.
 
 

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