Naturopathic doctors in North America are primary care providers trained in conventional medical sciences, diagnosis and treatment, and are experts in “natural therapeutics”. Naturopathy’s focus is upon its philosophy of natural health rather than specific methods and so practitioners use a wide variety of treatment modalities.
The core set of interventions defined by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education and taught at all six accredited schools in North America include:
- Botanical medicine & Homeopathy
- Nutrition (examples include vegetarian and whole food diet, fasting, and abstention from alcohol and sugar)
- Physical medicine (includes naturopathic, osseous and soft tissue manipulative therapy, physiotherapy, sports medicine, exercise and hydrotherapy)
- Nature cures – a range of therapies based upon exposure to natural elements such as sunshine and fresh air
- Psychological counseling (including methods of stress management)
A licensed Naturopathic Physician (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate level Naturopathic Medical School and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D., 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, the Naturopathic Physician is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling.
A Naturopathic Physician takes rigorous National Board Exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state as a primary care general practice physician. Licensed Naturopathic Physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state’s law.