What is a Naturopathic Doctor? How are they different than MDs & DOs?
A Naturopathic Doctor is a type of primary care physician that is trained to use the least invasive methods first to prevent and heal disease. It is a distinct method of healing that aims at treating the root cause of disease and promotes healing using natural therapies. Their practice is based around the Therapeutic Order; a system that helps guide the most approiate, effective, and least invasive therapies needed. There are 7 levels of the Therapeutic Order that can be read below. While Medical Doctors are only really trained to work with levels 6 & 7, drugs and surgery, Naturopathic doctors use the entire order ensuring healing is taking place from a complete picture as well as using the most appropriate therapy at the appropriate time.
The Therapeutic Order consists of 7 levels:
1. Create the Conditions for Health(lifestyle modification such as diet, exercise, sleep, & stress management)
2. Stimulate the Bodies Healing Processes / Stimulate the Immune System
3. Support & Nourish Engaged or Weakened Organs and Systems
4. Correct Structural Integrity / Manual Medicine (adjustments, massage, promote blood flow)
5. Suppress Symptoms with Natural Means - (Herbal medicine, foods, homeopathic)
6. Suppress Symptoms with Synthetic Means (eg. Pharmaceuticals)
7. High Force Interventions (Drugs, Surgery, Steroids)
What education and training do NDs go through?
One first needs a bachelors degree and pre-medical science coursework prior to apply to Naturopathic Medical School. Naturopathic Doctors attend a 4 year in-residence Naturopathic Medical School that is accredited by the US department of Education. There are currently 7 Naturopathic Medical Schools in the US and 2 in Canada. The first 2 years of these programs closely resemble conventional medical school, studying the basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, laboratory evaluation and X-ray, etc. The second two years is where things begin to differ. NDs continue to take classes in cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pharmacology as MDs do, but also add in many courses on advanced nutrition, botanical medicine, and other natural healing modalities. The final year is spent in their internship treating real patients (at least 1250 patient contacts) under the direct supervision of licensed physicians. Throughout school and after graduation, they take a series of licensing board exams (Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examination) necessary in order to obtain a license and practice as a doctors in licensed states. Our doctors both graduated from The National University of Health Science, a 115 year old university with a strong history of training the brightest evidenced based primary care doctors there are. Both of our doctors have also completed additional training including Masters of Science degrees and have a combined 20 years of formal health science college and graduate school training. to learn more about their individual training, CLICK HERE.
Why should someone see a Naturopathic Doctor?
1. You want a doctor who will treat all of you as an individual, not just your illness.
-Naturopathic doctors are trained to treat the whole person. This requires taking the time to listen and understand the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that can affect your health.
2. You want personalized support.
-NDs understand there is no one - size - fits - all treatment that works for everybody. After your visit with an ND, you’ll leave the doctor’s office with a plan uniquely tailored to you, your health status, your health goals, and your lifestyle.
3. You want to treat the root cause of an illness, not just manage the symptoms.
-Conventional medications are meant to counteract and cover up the symptoms instead of focusing on healing the body. This is why you need to take blood pressure medication for life. the medication doesnt fix the problem, it just lowers it for a little while till the effects where off. Naturopathic medicine looks to SUPPORT the body and PREVENT these conditions, so you don't need to stay on medication for life.
4. You want to actively participate in managing your own health.
-One of the tenets of Naturopathic medicine is Doctor as Teacher. We get excited about teaching you how your body works, not talking over your head, and leaving you confused when you walk out of the office. An ND will help you learn what your body needs to get well and stay healthy.
5. You have chronic pain and don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or highly addictive opioids to manage it forever.
-Pain that lasts six months or more is more complex than acute pain and requires a holistic, long - term approach to manage. NDs are trained to work with you to determine which combination of therapies will work best for you to heal or manage your pain safely so that you can resume daily activities.
6. You have tried all the conventional medical options for diagnosing and treating a health condition.
-Certain chronic health conditions that have symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, or gastrointestinal distress can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and can benefit from a holistic approach . NDs use diagnostic tools common in conventional medicine, and also consider detailed diet history, lifestyle habits and choices, exercise history , and social/emotional factors to assess patients’ needs. These approaches can open doors to new treatment pathways and options.