"Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods." -AANP
Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and therapeutic modalities: clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, nutritional medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic physical medicine (including naturopathic manipulative therapy), public health measures, hygiene, counseling, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth). -AANP
Scope of Practice for Naturopathic Doctors in WA
Naturopathic doctors are licensed as primary health care providers in the state of Washington. They have four to five years of medical training, including a two-year clinical internship. Educated in all of the same basic sciences as a medical doctor (MD), a naturopathic physician uses the Western medical sciences as a foundation for diagnosis and treatment. Just like MDs, naturopathic physicians must pass rigorous professional board exams before they can be licensed by a state or jurisdiction.
NDs, however, also study holistic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and promoting wellness. Another distinguishing feature is the treatment philosophy: Naturopathic doctors see the physician as someone who facilitates healing by identifying and removing barriers to health.
Naturopathic physicians can prescribe a number of pharmaceutical drugs (such as antibiotics), but in Washington they currently cannot legally prescribe all pharmaceutical drugs that a medical doctor can prescribe. Naturopathic physicians can perform minor office procedures but will refer patients to outside physicians for more extensive procedures. -BCNH
What to expect at a naturopathic visit
Initial visits last 60 minutes and will include a thorough intake, appropriate physical exam, lab testing as needed, and a plan. Patients will complete various questionnaires as is appropriate on health history, environmental health, mental health, diet diary, etc. Followup visits last 30-45 minutes. Other services may be recommended such as Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Hydrotherapy, Biofeedback/Mindbody Medicine, these are typically 60 minute sessions. Phone consultations and video telemedicine is also available for long distance patients. Supplements, herbal formulas, and other medicines may be prescribed, these are available in the dispensary at the clinic, through the online dispensary, or from local clinics or apothecaries.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person (tolle totum)
Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.