About Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine has many roots including old-fashioned home remedies, indigenous medicine, the health spas of Europe, as well as modern research on nutrition and natural medicines. In the early 1900's it was a flourishing profession in the U.S. with over 20 Naturopathic medical schools in operation. The rise of technological medicine and the pharmaceutical industry led to a decline in Naturopathic medicine during the middle of the twentieth century. However, the last several decades have seen a resurgence, as an increasingly health conscious public has demanded additions or alternatives to the conventional medical approaches. Many patients choose a naturopathic physician as their primary care physicians, and many build a team of different types of health care practitioners to work together for the best treatment outcomes.

Naturopathic physicians are licensed in the state of Oregon as primary care physicians who are experts in natural medicine and provide medical care to people of all ages. They are trained to treat both acute and chronic conditions. The naturopathic approach is to treat the whole person, search for underlying causes, and then create an individualized treatment plan.

Naturopathic physicians need premedical training and then attend a four year graduate medical school program. The academic and clinical training is the same level of rigorous education and very similar to conventional medical school education. It also requires extensive training in clinical nutrition and physical medicine (unlike most conventional medical schools). Graduation also requires hundreds of hours of supervised clinical experience and a doctoral thesis.

In terms of treatments, the training is very comprehensive and includes the use of diet and nutritional supplements, botanical (herbal) medicine, conventional medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, counseling and physical medicine. In Oregon, naturopathic physicians may also prescribe a significant number of prescription medications. Extra training in other modalities is common in the profession. Naturopathic physicians (ND�s) are required to do extensive continuing education including the use of pharmaceuticals, pain management, ethics in medicine, CPR and updates in conventional and natural medicine research.

While different naturopathic physicians may practice somewhat differently, spending time with patients and listening to their concerns is common. Naturopathic medicine embraces the following six principles:

  • The Healing Power of Nature: An inherent self-healing process is recognized, so health care includes an attempt to remove obstacles and support this self-healing process.

  • Identify and Treat the Causes: Symptoms are seen as guideposts in the search for and treatment of underlying causes, instead of focusing on just eliminating the symptoms.

  • First Do No Harm: Methods and substances are chosen that minimize harmful side effects, and hopefully enhance overall health as well.

  • Doctor as Teacher: Patients are educated and encouraged to take responsibility for their own health, giving them tools to take care of themselves.

  • Treat the Whole Person: Illnesses can cause mental and emotional symptoms as well as physical symptoms, so treatments and diagnosing take environmental, genetic and social factors into consideration.

  • Prevention: Good health care includes the prevention of future illnesses, so education and assessment of risk factors are part of an individualized health care approach.