What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct health care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind and spirit.


Naturopathic doctors are united in the Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine. Not only an oath, the Principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical education and naturopathic patient care. ND practice is planted firmly in the assumption that it is vital to treat the individual, to stimulate and support the body’s inherent ability to heal, to identify the root cause, address it as naturally and gently as possible, to teach patients how to create wellness, and to prevent illness whenever possible.

Core to the maturation of the profession are solid educational standards which include the AANMC Clinical Competencies of the Graduating Naturopathic Student, regional and programmatic accreditation that is recognized by the United States Department of Education and consistent regulatory requirements for licensure. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is the only accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education for naturopathic programs. Graduates of CNME accredited naturopathic medical institutions are eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX), the passage of which is required for licensure.

Therapeutic Order of Naturopathic MedicineThe Therapeutic Order builds upon the Six Principles to further guide the clinical practice of naturopathic medicine, and emphasizes the determinants of health as an integral component of the care plan. NDs are afforded a broad spectrum of therapies, ranging from nutrition and lifestyle counseling to supplements, pharmaceuticals and minor surgical procedures, however the Therapeutic Order promotes selection of the least forceful intervention when safely indicated.

When considering becoming a naturopathic doctor, the impulse to compare and contrast ND and MD education is almost unavoidable. Plenty of differences, as well as similarities, exist between the two, both in education and in medical practice. But when comparing the training and philosophies of NDs and MDs, it is important to remember that each field is unique and offers distinct benefits to patients and healthcare delivery.

There are many different branches of medicine; each branch has its own tools and methodologies. But just as branches belong to a single tree and share common roots, so too are all medical fields based on the same founding principle: the protection and improvement of the patient’s health.  NDs and MDs represent two distinct branches of the medical tree. But despite this distinction is important to note that when required the two branches work in unison for the health of the patient.   

Naturopathic medicine excels at providing a gentle, whole person approach to care and honoring and harnessing the bodies innate healing response. ND students receive hundreds of hours of nutrition coursework and clinical education, and nutrition often forms a foundational component to care, along with lifestyle counseling, mind-body medicine and physical medicine.

For students who are committed to a holistic approach to patient care, naturopathic medicine is the most direct and complete pathway to accomplish this goal.

You are invited to learn more about what it takes to become an ND – a rewarding career path offered at accredited naturopathic medical schools across North America.

A career in naturopathic medicine whether as a clinical practitioner, researcher, professional educator, or in a leadership role will appeal to those students who see the tide of poor health – rising incidence of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, dementia and mood disorders – and want to do something to impact the health of their community.  

Please join us as we define the future of health care by introducing promising young doctors to the field of naturopathic medicine.





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