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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 appropriate, 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 therapeutic 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)

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What education and training do NDs go through?
One first needs a bachelors degree and pre-medical science coursework prior to applying 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 all graduated from National University of Health Sciences, a 115 year old university with a strong history of training the brightest evidenced based primary care doctors there are. All of our doctors have also completed additional training including Masters of Science degrees and additional doctorates and have a combined 50 years of formal health science college and graduate school training. to learn more about their individual training, CLICK HERE.

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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 doesn't fix the problem, it just lowers it for a little while until the effects wear off. Naturopathic medicine looks to SUPPORT the body and PREVENT these conditions, so you don't need to stay on medication for life. Our goal is for you to not end up on 20 different supplements as is common in functional medicine. That is not fixing the problem. 


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. 


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What is the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a therapy, Naturopathy is a profession. Homeopathy is a system based around using small doses of substances to stimulate the body to heal itself. While NDs are trained in homeopathy, some may choose to use it, some may not. Just like nutritional therapy or pharmaceutical therapy, they are options when appropriate. Other modalities that NDs may use that fall under naturopathy include Clinical Nutrition, Physical Medicine, Botanical Medicine, Functional Medicine, Hydrotherapy, IV-Therapy, Pharmaceutical Therapy, and more, however not all of these are able to be used in Illinois by naturopathic doctors. 

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Do I have to stop working with my other doctors?

No! A quality medical team can be extremely beneficial to your health. Our team makes collaboration a priority, and will refer to other providers when we feel their expertise is needed. Although Naturopathic Doctors are trained as Primary Care Physicians, Illinois does not license them as such, like other states do, and you should not discontinue care with your current providers. We will be as open to working with your current team as much as they are open and willing to work with us. 

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Is Naturopathic Medicine evidenced-based? Is it safe?
Naturopathic Medicine is based on the principals of prevention and lifestyle, and thus treatments are inherently safe. Our medicine works on the basis of nutrition and biochemistry, and improving your physiology. Not only are there numerous studies showing Naturopathic Medicine as a whole is effective for conditions like chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, etc. but there are literally hundreds-of-thousands of studies on vitamin and nutrition therapy and other lifestyle based medicine that NDs utilize. An easy way to evaluate the safety of our medicine is to look at the mal-practice rates for NDs. Medical mal-practice insurance is among the lowest in the healthcare industry for Naturopathic Doctors and our mal-practice rates are about 90% lower than primary care Medical Doctors, due to the low rate of injury suffered by naturopathic patients. 

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Do you accept my insurance?
We do not bill insurance directly, but upon request we can provide you with a superbill for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. We absolutely would not be able to do what we do and offer the level of service that we think our patients deserve if we accepted insurance. The insurance system is what has lead to you receiving 7 minute visits at the typical doctor office you've likely experienced and that's not the type of healthcare we believe in or the type of healthcare that we think you deserve. For example, our new patient visit is two hours long so that we can spend the time needed getting to the bottom of your health concerns and create a comprehensive plan to address them. We also do accept health savings account and flex spending cards to make sure you can maxamize your benefits.  We will always try to save you as much money as possible, and will use your insurance whenever possible for services such as labwork.  Even though we can run many labs through insurance, there are some labs they will never cover, and it is often cheaper to use our discounted cash pay rates at local labs than to use your insurance. If price is a large concern, you are welcome to book with our staff Functional Medicine Nutritionist who has lower rates than our doctors which can significantly lower the cost of your care (by over 50%). We also have packages for therapies we offer such as mistletoe therapy and acupuncture to reduce costs. 

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What about licensure and certification?
Currently Illinois unlike many other states does not have legal definition of Naturopathic Medicine and thus does not have a licensing law in effect to license Naturopathic Physicians. All of our doctors are licensed as a Naturopathic Physicians with prescription authority in the state of Vermont to prove that they are licensable as Naturopathic Physicians should Illinois choose to update their law. Licensing laws are meant to protect the public, and the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians is currently working to gain licensure in this state and ensure patients have access to properly qualified Naturopathic Doctors. Dr. Robinson is a board member of the ILANP and are actively fighting to ensure you are seeing providers with the proper training. If you'd like to help our licensure efforts, please CLICK HERE to sign up for Legislative Action Alerts.  All of our providers do however old other licenses and certifications in Illinois. Drs. Michael & Polina Robinson, Melissa Betance, and Nari Salim are licensed as Dietetic Nutritionist in Illinois, which allows them to legally treat patients using medical nutrition therapy. Drs. Salim and Vang are also licensed Acupuncturists in IL.  Because our providers are not licensed as medical physicians, our doctors do not offer pharmaceutical treatment in Illinois, but rather consult on how to improve and support the natural physiology of the body.  If a pharmaceutical prescription is needed and the patient does not have a personal physician, Dr. Robinson works with a medical doctor and nurse practitioner in our Burr Ridge office who can provide pharmaceutical care. 

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What is the difference between a licensed ND and unlicensed ND?
Because Illinois does not have a current licensing law recognizing Naturopathic Medicine, technically anyone could call themselves a naturopathic doctor without repercussions and there are people doing as such, even some in Downers Grove are doing as such. Many people attend online "correspondence schools" or diploma mills that give out fake doctorates and PhD's with no real work and a few hundred dollars. While these practitioners may claim to be a Naturopathic Doctor, they likely have never attended an in person medical school, passed a national licensing exam, nor are they recognized in any state legislature.  We are actively working with the state legislature to change this. This is also the reason we maintain physician licensure and prescription authority in other states, to demonstrate that we've met the rigorous requirements needed to obtain a naturopathic physician medical license. 

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How can I learn more about who you are and how you treat patients ?
We have a host of resources on our website:
-If you're looking to learn more about our doctors and their training and their specialties - Click -
About Us
-If you're looking to learn more about how we help patients with their autoimmune diseases - Click - Autoimmune
-If you're looking to learn more about how we help patients with their hormonal concerns - Click - Hormones
-If you're looking to learn more about how we help patients with their gut health - Click -
GI Healing
-If you're looking to learn more about how we help patients with Cancer - Click - Cancer
-If you're ready to book an appointment with one of our providers - Click - Book Online

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