Naturopathic Medicine: An Overview
1. Definition of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles that underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic Doctors are primary health care practitioners, whose diverse techniques include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.
2. Definition of a Naturopathic Doctor
“Diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using system of practice that bases treatment of physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing human body: Utilizes physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods, such as air, water, light, heat, earth, phytotherapy, food and herb therapy, psychotherapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines natural processed foods, and herbs and nature’s remedies. Excludes major surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and use of drugs, except those assimilable substances containing elements or compounds of body tissues and are physiologically compatible to body processes for maintenance of life.”
Taken from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the government’s book of jobs and job descriptions in America.
3. Scope of Practice
“Scope of practice” is specifically defined by the legislation in the various states and provinces that license or regulate naturopathic medicine, and practice varies significantly among states, provinces, and countries.
The scope of practice of Naturopathic Doctors varies by jurisdiction. Currently, eighteen states, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and five Canadian provinces license naturopathic doctors. Several of these jurisdictions regard NDs as primary care doctors and provide them with the scope of diagnostic and therapeutic privileges necessary to be the doctor first seen by the patient for general health care, for advice on keeping healthy, and for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions. In those jurisdictions in which NDs are not licensed, the scope of practice excludes the diagnosis and treatment of disease.