Naturopathic Medical doctors are REAL doctors, despite what many would think. I know what people say about Naturopathic doctors, I have heard it from friends, and friends of friends, have seen comments on blog posts, and message boards, suggestions of: “Why don’t you see a real doctor.” There is even a site called quackwatch that labels ND’s as absolute quacks. I also know that when people set out to explore natural medicine, sometimes their family becomes certain that they have lost their mind. Usually, the objection comes as something a friend of theirs told them about how someone went to an ND and within a few minutes was told that they had certain problems, were then prescribed $500 dollars worth of supplements. Honestly, I wish I could say that this was rare, and that it almost never happened, but sadly I cannot. However, knowing how to pick an ND and what questions to ask and then therefore how to educate your loved ones who are honestly only expressing normal concern for your welfare makes finding good help so much easier.
Naturopathic doctors are the original physicians. Pre 1938 ND’s made up most of the doctors in practice, or at least Naturopathic theories and methods did. However, in 1938 that was dramatically changed by laws passed giving the FDA supervision over medicine and allowing primary medical influence to go to big pharmaceutical companies. Pre 1938 ND’s were licensed in all 50 states and operated as primary care providers to patients of all ages, treating all conditions, with great success. From 1938 to about 1970 ND’s were all but extinct. Slowly with the tutelage of some amazing doctors including Dr. John Bastyr, Naturopathic Medicine began to re-emerge, first with a school located in Portland Oregon and then one opened later in Seattle Washington, and now with accredited schools in Phoenix Arizona, Bridgeport Connecticut and an emerging school in Illinois. These schools operate as graduate medical schools. To enter, a Bachelor of Science is needed with all the requirements of enter conventional medical schools except the M-CAT. The first two years of Naturopathic school are comprised of basic sciences including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, and such. In fact, when put side by side, total hours spent on basic sciences between the two medical paths are equal. That’s right; a well educated ND has the same basic science medical training as any MD in training right now. The second two years of ND training involve clinical sciences, and hands on supervised clinical training. In this time, the hours of clinical training between MD’s and ND’s also match up as do clinical science hours, except that ND’s also spend large amounts of time studying nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, and core naturopathic therapeutics. Thus, between the two, ND’s are actually better educated, which may come as a surprise to anyone who doubts the validity of Naturopathic Medicine.
Some doubters have good reason to be hesitant however, because the title of Naturopath can be used by almost anyone in states that do not license Naturopathic physicians. Consequently, there are schools offering online courses in Naturopathy, even a school in Ann ArborMI offering training that may focus on use of natural remedies but lacks foundational science with which to base treatment. Therefore, many in the world call themselves physicians without credentials or hours to back that claim. I am not saying that anyone with a degree from one of these institutions is unskilled just pointing out that there are a lot of practitioners including chiropractors claiming ND status without the background to say so. Thus making it hard to define legitimacy to friends and family who have heard horror stories.
So, if your ND or one someone you love is seeing did not graduate from NCNM, Bastyr, SCNM, Bridgeport or a CanadianNaturopathicCollege, you may want to further investigate their background before seeing them even if they have another degree like Chiropractic or massage certificate. ND’s should be able to:
- Evaluate your labs, test results, and chart notes from your primary care doctor
- Your ND should be able to explain how your body works, not just why you need a product or products
- Your ND should be able to do physical exam
- Your ND should be willing to explain their training
- Your ND should have passed the board exams in both basic science and clinical sciences offered by NPLEX
If the above criteria are not true, maybe it is time to do a little comparison with other doctors in your area and see what you may be missing.