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Naturopathic Medicine - What is Naturopathic Medicine?

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Question: Naturopathic Medicine - What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Answer: Naturopathy, as its name implies, is a more natural approach to medicine than traditional medical schools. Naturopathy is not as widely or traditionally accepted as allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) medicine is currently, but naturopathy is growing in popularity.

According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, naturopathic physicians are trained as primary care physicians, and their medical services may include botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, and, in some states, acupuncture or oriental medicine.

Additionally, naturopaths may also combine the above methodology with some of the more traditional medical sciences such as pharmacology, minor surgery, laboratory testing, and psychology. However, they are trained to use natural remedies to treat patients rather than resorting to traditional pharmaceuticals and manufactured medications.

There are currently only four accredited naturopathic medical schools nationwide. They are located in Arizona, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington. There are several naturopathic medical schools in Canada as well.

According to the AANMC, naturopathic medical education is similar to allopathic medical education in a number of ways. Naturopathic medical students attend a four-year graduate program to earn the N.D. degree (Doctor of Naturopathy). N.D. students study many of the same sciences as allopathic students, including anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, neuroscience, and immunology.

“Students of naturopathic medicine use the Western medical sciences as a foundation on which to build a thorough knowledge of holistic, non-toxic therapies and develop skills in diagnosis, disease prevention and wellness optimization,” states the AANMC.

Another excellent resource for learning more about naturopathy is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). According to the AANP website, visited January 25, 2008, 15 states currently have licensing boards for certifying naturopathic physicians to practice in the state. Those states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Additionally, the US territories of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands also license naturopathic physicians. As of July 2009, Minnesota will also license naturopathic physicians.

Physicians may practice in all states, but they practice unlicensed unless they live in one of those states and pass the NPLEX - the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Exam.

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