It’s a little tricky to define what a naturopathic physician is, since it may not mean the same thing in all places. In many places, including many of the US states, a naturopathic physician has training on par with a medical doctor, spending four years in medical school after getting bachelor’s degree training. Yet these doctors have also been trained to use a variety of natural remedies alongside of traditional medicine. They may be called NDs or NMDs, and they have at their disposal a variety of natural and created remedies for illness.
The difficulty here is that some people call themselves naturopathic physicians or doctors in other locations who do not have formal medical training. A number of states in the US do not require people have licensing for this title. This means if a patient is looking for a skilled, licensed naturopathic physician, some extra searching might be required. It’s important not to treat the title as assurance a person has completed medical school and been trained in complementary medicine.
Many people see a lot of benefit to receiving care from a licensed naturopathic physician. It’s certainly true that a number of the drugs used today are derived from natural sources. Lithium, which treats bipolar disorder, is a mineral. Salicylates, which are used in aspirin, were used in natural forms like willow bark to treat a variety of conditions. A naturally derived substance or treatment can still be valuable, even it hasn’t been patented, chemically reproduced, and mass-marketed.
Some of the alternative treatments a naturopathic doctor might use include traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, herbology, and homeopathy. They may also be very interested in people’s diets, as diet may have an effect on overall health, and they will certainly counsel about lifestyle choices that can impair health. When these combined methods are effective in creating wellness, that is terrific, but they are not the only resources of the naturopathic physician.
Since these doctors have also been trained in traditional medicine, they can switch to traditional medicinal remedies as needed too. This addresses the concern many people have about using a practitioner who only provides a naturopathic option. There are more treatments to be tried and the skillful naturopathic physician can migrate between traditional and nontraditional medical treatments to fully address health issues.
Naturopathic doctors can work in a variety of settings. As licensed doctors they might maintain a general practice, or they could work in a practice with a number of doctors that practice traditional medicine only. Here they could be consulted or called in to suggest alternative treatments when traditional ones are not working.
There are far fewer schools that offer an ND or NMD degree than there are schools offering the traditional MD. Nevertheless this field remains an intriguing one. Many people are thrilled if they find an NMD practicing in their area.