Naturopathic medicine has existed for over 100 years as a distinct medical science and art. While naturopathic physicians are often described in terms of the therapeutic agents they employ, ranging from homeopathic medicines to medicinal herbs to nutrition, the underlying base of naturopathy is its philosophical principles. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) help people help themselves to lead healthier lives, using natural therapies.
The primary ideas behind naturopathy include all of the following. “First, do no harm” is the highest principle of naturopathic medicine. Naturopathy is extremely safe, and NDs know when it is necessary to refer a patient for other care. Second, NDs always try to identify and work with causes of health problems, not just suppress them. Third, naturopathy holds that each person has the power in him or herself to be vital and healthy. As doctors they see themselves as teachers or guides, not as mechanics. Their goal is to work with nature to restore or maintain balance in a person’s health. The final principles are to address the whole person, and to always try to keep strong by preventing difficulties in maintaining vitality.
NDs train at four-year naturopathic medical schools ultimately accredited by the Department of Education. They must then pass a national licensing exam in order to practice. True NDs carry a license in one of ten states: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, or Washington state. Some persons claiming to be naturopaths may lack the necessary training and skills to practice safely. You can easily check a person’s professional credentials by asking what state in which they are licensed. It is important to note that NDs are not the same as medical doctors. NDs are not currently licensed in Colorado to diagnose or treat illness. They work to improve each person’s vitality, and do not claim to cure any disease.