First of all, let’s explain what a Naturopathic doctor is. Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care providers. They are trained to find the root cause of disease and not to treat the symptoms of disease. Naturopathic doctors hold a doctorate in naturopathic medicine (ND or NMD) from one of 7 naturopathic medical schools. There are 5 in the U.S. and 2 in Canada (List of Accredited schools). Licensing for Naturopathic doctors occurs in 16 states, 5 Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In these states and provinces, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from a four-year, federally accredited professional level medical program. Students are educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD or DO as well as the latest advances in science in combination with natural approaches to therapy, disease prevention, and clinical education. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, and counseling. Students also must pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination in order to receive a license (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam –NPLEX). This rigorous exam covers basic sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects and clinical sciences (Licensed states and provinces).
The problem arises in states that are not licensed. Because these states are not regulated, anyone can call themselves a naturopath. This is where most people get confused. Naturopaths can range from having no training at all to gaining degrees from a distance learning programs. These naturopaths don’t have doctorate degrees from accredited schools, clinical experience, or licensing exams to pass. If the public is not aware of these differences, they can trust their health to someone who has no professional training. So, it is important for naturopathic doctors to be licensed in every state to protect the public from mistakenly seeking out naturopaths with no professional training. In today’s society, people are looking for alternatives to conventional health care. It is a complete travesty choosing alternative health care depends on the state in which you live. Because of this, it is important to diligently investigate your naturopaths’ credentials.
So should you trust a naturopathic doctor? Absolutely! Just make sure that you find a licensed naturopathic doctor in your area. To find a licensed naturopathic doctor go to www.naturopathic.org. This is the website for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). Just keep in mind that all naturopathic doctors may not be listed on this website so also check with your naturopathic doctor to see if they graduated from an accredited school and have a license to practice medicine. (They should be able to show you these documents. Keep in mind that their license may not be in your state if your state does not license naturopathic doctors).