These days when new illnesses seem to sprout every day, people continuously look for a doctor who can offer something new. For example, there are now several alternative medicines we can use, instead of the traditional physicians we have grown up with.

There are chiropractors, acupuncturists, quack doctors, faith healers, and naturopathic doctors. Among them, naturopathic doctors seem to have the most number of followers and patrons. They claim to treat children and adult alike, providing cure to most diseases like physicians can, though with a wholly different approach.

Naturopathy is commonly defined as ‘natural medicine’. It is now known as an approach to support the body’s natural capacity to achieve its best health. It used to be a form of what was known as quack medicine, until experts have took notice and took action. Now, they are licensed and can even operate as primary health care providers in some areas.

What is the difference between a doctor of medicine and a naturopath doctor?

  • There are only 6 accredited naturopathic medical schools.

You can tell if someone is a certified naturopathic doctor (ND) if he holds a doctorate from one of the six. The degree is everyone’s indication if the ND is worth trusting and worth patronizing.

  • NDs are experts in complementary and alternative medicine.

They do not prescribe chemically-produced drugs, and typically recommends clinical nutrition and herbal medicine to their patients.

  • They promote counseling and other non-invasive therapies.

Most NDs also take additional training other than their ND degree. They also do physical medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and homeopathy. Some NDs even do Oriental medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

  • Contrary to popular belief, NDs can work with other medical institutions.

They can set a compromise and even collaborate with its fellow medical providers. This way, they can ensure their patients that the approach they take is led by the patient himself, and not what the doctor thinks alone.

  • Like physicians, NDs take board exams and are required to attain a license.

An ND should not do consultations unless he takes a national board exam known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX). In the US, there are only a number of states providing licenses. Those states allow NDs to practice independently, and as primary care providers as well.

  • NDs can diagnose medical conditions and treat them too.

They are also licensed to perform physical exams and order laboratory tests. These are allowed in states that provide ND licenses.

  • In other states that do not offer licenses, NDs act as consultants.

They function as consultants to medical and health care institutions. While not able to diagnose conditions, they are still very much functional since other health care providers value their opinions on health and wellness.

What does a naturopathic doctor offer?

  • They are trained on conventional medical sciences, so they can offer as much services as MDs.

NDs are trained in anatomy, cardiology, physiology, physical diagnosis, microbiology, gynecology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, among others.

  • When compared with MDs providing services that are specific to their specialization, NDs offer more.

This is because NDs are trained to do physical exams, dietary and nutritional assessments, gynecological exams, and even allergy testing. When you go to an MD, you will most likely be referred to different practitioners offering the physical exam and allergy testing.

  • They offer treatments at their offices.

ND offerings usually include homeopathic remedies, massage, fasting, minor surgery, acupuncture, cell salts, and even natural childbirth. Because their philosophy is strongly based on nature and the body’s ability to self-heal, it is no wonder that their offers are mostly on the natural side, using the least amount of chemicals as possible.

  • Instead of pharmaceuticals, natural remedies are advised and prescribed.

The core value of naturopathy is letting the patient know of their holistic approach to medicine. They educate their patients to take full responsibility of their own health, and recognize their bodies’ ability to heal itself.

What are the philosophies of naturopathy?

  • Your lifestyle contribute to your overall health.

When you ask NDs where your current sickness or condition might have come from, they would most likely blame how your lifestyle and environment look like. They believe that your physiological, social, physical, and even spiritual lifestyle make up your health, and can even be the cause of why it could break.

  • Your disease is caused by stress and lifestyle deficiencies.

Even traditional doctors believe that stress is bad for the body and is the culprit for many diseases. What sets NDs apart is their belief that physiological imbalance and even environmental influences can give you an unpleasant health condition.

  • Natural therapies are better than pharmaceuticals.

Because naturopathy is literally ‘natural medicine’, it is only right that they prefer alternative natural medicines as compared to chemical ones. They do not believe in chemical drugs, and can even tell you how detrimental it could be to your long term health. They use natural therapies on almost all sicknesses, even on chronic illnesses.

  • Disease prevention is essential to optimum health.

We all might have heard of the saying “prevention is better than cure”. It is one of the pillar values of naturopathy. In saying so, they are all for stress reduction through massage and spa therapies, healthy lifestyle through balanced diet, and more.

  • Diseases are cause mainly by toxins, chemical exposure, food and water impurities, poor nutrition, and bad lifestyle.

Naturopathy firmly believes in keeping a positive lifestyle to stay healthy. NDs also advise their patients to keep their diets as balanced and healthy as possible, and to eat organic fruits and vegetables if at all possible.

When naturopathy was just starting out, people would go to NDs to see what different treatments they offer that MDs cannot. It was a matter of discovery, as well as the excitement for something new. The more holistic approach where naturopathy traces its history is what attracts its patients and also what makes them stay.

In this world where sicknesses are usually caused by our faster-paced lives and preservative-rich food, natural medicine and therapies sound better than chemically produced drugs. People are reportedly coming back to natural medicine because they look for healing that is based on nature. They want to stop depending so much on chemicals, which could even be harmful to their health.

Naturopathy is different from conventional medicine because of its approach, but like the latter, it just aims one thing—to keep people healthy. This is what makes them the same, and would make the two a great team when working together for the common good.

What Is a Naturopath Doctor?