Defining Naturopathic Medicine

Dr. JoAnn Yanez - AANMCPost by JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE

So often through the course of my career as a naturopathic physician, I have been asked the definition of naturopathic medicine. Whether it has been by well-meaning family members, taxi cab drivers, legislative or regulatory bodies, corporations or patients, a common thread for some has been the lack of awareness for what NDs really do. I don’t see that as a negative, it just means the profession as a whole needs to do a better job at raising public awareness, and in clearing up existing misperceptions. Folks may confuse naturopathic medicine for homeopathy, or not understand that our training is akin to conventional medical school in many aspects, with the addition that NDs become experts in evidence-based integrative and natural medicine.

We are a small, but mighty group of people who feel strongly that one’s profession should align with our personal principles. NDs believe that above all we should, as doctors, strive to address the root cause of illness in the most gentle and natural manner possible.

What is the definition of naturopathy?

Some public sites have made the definition of naturopathic medicine a political football, and have combined licensed naturopathic physician level training with that of lay practitioners. This is confusing and potentially dangerous for the public, because patients may not understand the difference in training between online programs and accredited four-year naturopathic programs. Over the years, I have heard from upset students and patients who did not realize that there was a difference in training for online and in-person programs. To date this is still the number one question we get from inquiries at the AANMC.

The truth of the matter is that naturopathic medicine IS defined by our national and international professional associations, is recognized by regulatory agencies across the globe, and most importantly, is clear to the patients who benefit from licensed ND care every day.

Naturopathic Medical Education continues to push the envelope in developing innovative ways to harness age-old therapies and research advances in natural and integrative health.

How do YOU define naturopathic medicine?

For more information on the definition of naturopathic medicine and the definition of naturopathy:


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