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What is naturopathy?

Naturopathic medicine is over 100 years old. There are more than 3,500 licensed naturopathic physicians (ND)  in the United States and 7 accredited naturopathic medical schools.

From a diagnostic perspective, naturopathic medicine is a lot like conventional medicine. It uses blood work, imaging, and other well-researched diagnostic measures. The difference between conventional medicine and naturopathic medicine lies in the types of treatment. Naturopathic health care providers do not typically use prescription drugs as first-line therapy. Instead, they rely on natural and lifestyle therapeutics including dietary modifications, herbal medicine, homeopathy, exercise, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, and other naturally-oriented therapies.

Naturopathy's main goal is to use the natural healing power of the body to fight disease, also known as the Vis or life force. Diagnosis is made through lab tests, and medical exams, much like conventional diagnostic methods. Almost any illness can be treated by naturopathic health care providers. In some states, naturopathic doctors are considered primary care providers and may prescribe medications in a similar manner as medical doctors (MDs).

Naturopathic therapies may include:

  • Use of botanical medicine

  • Changes to nutrition

  • Homeopathy

  • Acupuncture

  • Oriental medicine

  • Hydrotherapy (use of water as a medical treatment)

  • Manipulative therapy

Naturopathic doctors often work in cooperation with other health care professionals, referring to MDs or other specialists when appropriate.

Online Medical Reviewer: Garilli, Bianca, ND
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Date Last Reviewed: 5/15/2015
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