A NEW HEALTHCARE PARADIGM IS HERE
Naturopathic Medicine is a unique & distinct system of health care that emphasizes the use of prevention & natural therapeutics. The doctors who practice naturopathic medicine are trained to serve as primary care general practitioners who are experts in the prevention, diagnosis, management, & treatment of both acute & chronic health conditions.
NATUROPATHIC MEDICAL DOCTORS
Naturopathic medical doctors are trained at accredited, four-year, post-graduate, residential naturopathic medical programs. The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical & physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, etc, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies. Naturopathic medical doctors use a variety of natural & non-invasive therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, & counseling.
Many naturopathic medical doctors have additional training & certification in acupuncture & natural child birth. Naturopathic treatments are effective in treating a wide variety of conditions without the need for additional intervention. Naturopathic medical doctors are also able to function within an integrated framework, & naturopathic therapies can be used to complement treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a patient-centered approach that strives to provide the most appropriate treatment for an individual's needs. In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession's infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, peer review, & a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE
Naturopathic medicine in the United States came into existence just over 100 years ago, developed by a man named Benedict Lust in New York state. While the profession by name is just a century old, the natural therapies & philosophy on which naturopathic medicine are based have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. The use of herbal remedies, dietary interventions, hydrotherapy, & lifestyle changes have been used throughout history & in nearly every culture to inhabit the Earth. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, first formulated the concept of vis medicatrix naturae -- the healing power of nature. This concept has long been at the core of medicine in many cultures around the world & remains one of the central themes of naturopathic philosophy today. Naturopathic medicine was popular & widely available throughout the United States well into the early part of the 20th century.
In 1920, there were many naturopathic medical schools, thousands of naturopathic physicians, & scores of thous&s of patients using naturopathic therapies around the country. But by mid-century the rise of "technological medicine" & the discovery & increased use of "miracle drugs" like antibiotics were associated with the temporary decline of naturopathic medicine & most other methods of natural healing. By the 1970's, however, the American public was becoming increasingly disenchanted with what had become "conventional medicine." The profound clinical limitations & its out-of-control costs were becoming obvious, & millions of Americans were inspired to look for options & alternatives. Naturopathic medicine began to enter an era of rejuvenation.
NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE TODAY
Today, more people than ever are seeking naturopathic medical care & naturopathic medical schools are growing at record rates to accomodate the increased dem& for naturopathic education. Presently, there are five accredited four-year naturopathic medical programs in the United States, & two accredited four-year programs in Canada. Naturopathic medicine has an independent accrediting agency, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is the recognized authority for establishing & maintaining the educational standards for profession. A nationally standardized licensing exam (NPLEX) has been established, which is used in nearly all of the states which currently license Naturopathic medical doctors. Currently, sixteen states licenses (as does the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Isl&s, & four Canadian provinces). In these states, Naturopathic medical doctors practice as independent primary care general practitioners, with the ability to diagnose & treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, & order laboratory testing. In these states, many health care consumers specifically choose Naturopathic medical doctors as their primary care providers.
The national organization representing Naturopathic medical doctors, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), is the driving force for the development of the profession. The AANP is instrumental in the development of the profession’s educational & practice standards, & to expanding awareness of the vital role Naturopathic medicine has to play in the future of the health care system in the United States. Today, Naturopathic medical doctors are experiencing greater recognition as health care practitioners who are experts in the field of natural & preventive medicine, providing leadership in natural medical research, enjoying increasing political influence, & looking forward to an unlimited future potential. Both the American public & policy makers are recognizing & contributing to the resurgence of the comprehensive system of health care practiced by Naturopathic medical doctors.
The 1990’s was a decade of great achievement for the naturopathic profession: several states received licensure, enrollment in naturopathic medical programs more than doubled, two new naturopathic medical programs were started, the first publicly funded natural health care clinic was initiated, a naturopathic institution was designated as a NIH Office of Alternative Medicine research center, & two naturopathic physicians were appointed by the federal Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services to the NIH’s Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC). As we enter the twenty-first century, the naturopathic profession finds itself well positioned for a new era in health care. With more & more research supporting the therapies used by naturopathic physicians, & the public dem& for greater choice & increased access to more natural approaches to their health care, naturopathic medicine is poised to make the transition from “alternative” medicine to truly “mainstream” medicine.