I want to clear up some misconceptions about naturopathic doctors (NDs). Because of the American Medical Association (AMA), many people believe that NDs are dangerous quacks and are less educated as MDs. This is far from the truth. Naturopathic doctors also attend medical schools which are approved by both programmatic and regional accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. They take the exact same classes as medical doctors, and then some. Many courses at naturopathic medical schools are taught by the same professors who teach at traditional (allopathic) medical schools. The only difference between the two schools is their philosophy. MDs treat symptoms. NDs treat patients. The naturopath’s goal is to facilitate the body's innate ability to heal itself, minimizing the risk of harm from medications. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia license naturopathic doctors, which means that in those states naturopaths function as primary care physicians, and many have prescriptive rights, attend childbirth, perform minor surgeries, and are covered by insurance companies.
What I love about my naturopath is that she spends time getting to know me. When I see medical doctors they have a standard checklist and procedure. The nurse checks my weight and blood pressure, asks if I have had any medication changes, and then leaves me to sit in a room for half an hour until the doctor comes in. Then he goes through his checklist: “Are you feeling tired? Are you experiencing bloating? Muscle tenderness? Heart palpitations? Do you have a family history of such-and-such disease?” All for the sake of following protocol. And then he tells me what he is going to do, without asking me what I want to do. And then of course, as he’s making his way to the door, he finishes with “Do you have any questions?”
When I saw my naturopath for the first time she said, "Tell me everything. Start with the beginning." I began with my childhood and she pried so that she understood what I had been exposed to throughout my life. She asked if I was breastfed, about the type of water I drank and my diet as a child, about the medications I took as a teen, my level of stress, and whether I lived near power lines. She examined my entire situation, rather than one or two symptoms I was experiencing at the moment. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to see a naturopathic doctor. You don’t have to stop seeing your medical doctor. A good MD should be open-minded and supportive of your decision to seek information from other healthcare specialists. If a physician is aggressive or demeaning to other approaches, then that is a red flag. Medical doctors and naturopathic doctors can work together. For example, I’m a thyroid cancer patient. It’s necessary for me to see an endocrinologist who can manage my thyroid hormone replacement and neck ultrasounds. But my ND helps me with diet, lifestyle changes, and supplementation to make my body strong enough to fight cancer. I believe that if everyone was cared for by NDs and followed their advice, we would see a dramatic decrease in disease. Please see the link to the right of this page to find a naturopathic doctor near you.