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What is a Doctor of Naturopathy?

Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A doctor of naturopathy provides advice regarding the use of natural healing processes as a way to solve physical and mental health challenges. Naturopathy uses organic substances and does not advocate the use of synthetic chemicals, drugs or vitamins as health restoratives. Only licensed physicians are legally allowed to diagnose and treat diseases. As a result, naturopathic medical practices are unlicensed and generally are considered to be health-related but are not accepted as a legitimate medical treatment facilities. There has been increased pressure to license these types of health services in order to protect the public.

A doctor of naturopathy, or N.D., typically sets up a private practice or joins a clinic of related health services professionals. He or she attracts clients through advertising in local media, referrals from traditional physicians or word of mouth from satisfied clients. During the initial visit, the doctor will listen to the client's concerns and take a complete health history. He or she will ask questions about family health, hereditary conditions and any prescription medications being taken.

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After the initial consultation, the doctor might suggest the use of specific herbs or natural preparations to address the health concerns or issues mentioned by the client. These treatments often take a longer time to work than prescription medications. The primary concept is to use natural items to encourage the body to heal itself, rather than to rely on synthetic chemicals to solve physical ailments. These services are rarely covered by medical insurance health plans and must be paid for directly by the client.

A doctor of naturopathy has completed all of the same basic sciences courses as a medical doctor. Additional courses in holistic, human physiology and nontoxic approaches to therapy also are required. Many people who are interested in natural health processes explore what is required to become a doctor of naturopathy. It is not uncommon for people to explore this career later in life as a second or even third career.

All doctors of naturopathy have completed formal post-secondary training from an accredited university at a graduate level. In order to become a doctor of naturopathy, candidates must complete a four-year graduate degree from a naturopathic medical school. There are a very limited number of schools that offer this type of program. The requirements for admissions include an undergraduate degree with excellent performance and letters of reference. An increasing number of doctors are taking additional certification courses in naturopathy, looking for other options for helping patients.

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