What is Naturopathic Medicine

A lot of people are not sure what a ND (naturopathic doctor) really is. Let’s shed some light on it.

Naturopathic medicine is a health care profession that emphasizes prevention, treatment and optimal health with methods that encourage the individuals’ inherent self-healing process. They prefer to work at identifying the underlying cause of illness and then develop a personalized treatment plan that provides the greatest benefit with the least potential damage.


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Naturopathic physicians tend to encourage their clients to get involved in their own health and together they develop a “partnership,” working together as a team. I personally find this very refreshing.

They look for obstacles that lead to disease and work with us to remove them. These obstacles might be a poor diet, negative stress levels, digestive disturbances – just to name a few. Then they construct a healthy regimen to improve the situation.

What kind of schooling do they get? They attend an accredited naturopathic medical college for 4 years. The education curricula includes the same biomedical and diagnostic sciences as both MDs and DOs receive, (PLUS) some areas of study that are not covered in conventional medical school such as nutrition and supplementation. Put it all together and they receive a very rigorous and comprehensive scientific medical education that is both comparable and complementary to conventional medicine.

They understand that nature is a very effective healer and they blend the knowledge they learn – both centuries old and current research – together. They are clinically trained to work with all aspects of family health from babies to the elderly. They are MORE than a Doctor.. they are also a Teacher.

They learn how to support a person’s self-healing process instead of suppressing symptoms.

Their therapies can include such things as clinical nutrition, botanical medicines, constitutional hydrotherapy, homeopathy, lifestyle changes, acupuncture, and orthomolecular therapy (meaning the use of vitamins, minerals & other supplements). They employ safe, effective, natural substances that do not add toxicity or additionally burden the already distressed body.

They will refer patients to conventional MDs when needed, while using supportive or complementary therapies to decrease side effects (as with chemo as an example.) They are also trained in the use of pharmaceutical drugs when necessary. Depending on their state license, they can prescribe them or refer to your MD.

But I can’t use my insurance? This is not always true. It varies from state to state and insurance company to insurance company. Check out myblue.bluecrossma.com from Massachusetts.. (( Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts members can save up to 30 percent off of the standard rates at network alternative health practitioners.)) They have a Living Healthy Naturally program offers discounts on some alternative medicine disciplines.

What about Medicare? While most natural therapies are not covered by Medicare – there are other services that Original Medicare may cover. For instance, Medical nutrition therapy is covered by Medicare Part B for people who have diabetes or kidney disease, or who have had a kidney transplant in the past 36 months. For Medicare to pay in full for this service, beneficiaries must have a referral from their doctor or qualified practitioner.

They also cover Chiropractic care and Physical Therapy. I know because I have utilized both with a very small co-pay. And why have surgery if/when we can avoid it?

If your a bit of an activist or love your ND enough to become one, here are some things you can do. #1. Call your insurance company and tell them you want naturopathic care covered. #2. If your insurance is through your employer, talk to your Human Resources department and tell them you want coverage for naturopathic care. #3. Call you state legislators and tell them you want insurance coverage for naturopathic doctors in your state. #4. Let the current administration know you want naturopathic care covered in any new national health plan. And #5. Encourage OTHERS to do the same.

Out of pocket is to expensive. Not really. On average – Naturopathic doctors charge far less than conventional medical doctors, and a typical office visit is “much” longer than your conventional doctor visit. The first visit is always the biggest cost due to the time involved with a complete assessment.

My first visit lasted about an hour and half. Most of my office visits are between 30 and 45 minutes. Longer if need be. The more time your Doctor spends with you the better picture they develop. It’s never a quick 15 minutes, take your scripts and see you in a month. All of this time gives them a plethera of information to design a well rounded plan of action to move you towards your health goals.

Most naturopathic treatments are a tiny fraction of prescription medication and have none of unwanted and even horrible side effects. If we can do it with non-toxic natural means we are way ahead of the game.

Personally; I have utilized a ND for many years. Considering “some” of my past experiences with conventional treatment, I consider naturopathic care a bargain. Even thou I have a plethora of knowledge regarding nutrition and supplements myself from my past 25+ years of research, schooling and becoming a certified counselor — She has been a great help to me in many areas. Because, well, I am not a Doctor and she is. Together we brain storm ideas and often come up with fresh, new ideas that may improve my health. I also see regular medical doctors for various things. This is called integrating (integrated medicine.) I firmly believe this “integrating” is the best possible health care we can find.

Have you had experience with Naturopathic Medicine?


Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.


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2 thoughts on “What is Naturopathic Medicine

  1. I have never heard of an ND. I find it interesting. I do love a doctor that really listens. The first time I found one that did, I was amazed and hung onto him until he retired.
    🙂 gwingal

  2. Very interesting and informative article. Thank you for sharing!

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