The United States Department of Labor defines a naturopathic physician as one who may: "Diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies."
The philosophy of naturopathic medicine is centered around honoring and working with the innate healing power of nature, the Vis Medicatrix Naturae. The intention of a system of medicine centered around the Vis is to remove obstacles and optimize the capacity for healing inherent in all living things. The role of the naturopathic doctor is to identify root causes of illness and imbalance, provide education, and offer holistic options to support healing.
Principles of naturopathic medicine
- Healing power of nature
- Identify and treat the cause
- First do no harm
- Doctor as teacher
- Treat the whole person
EVIDENCE-BASED COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licensed naturopathic doctors are general practitioners specializing in natural medicine. Training is grounded in Western biomedical science, and integrates natural modalities including botanical medicine, nutrition and homeopathy. Naturopathic doctors specialize in evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, bridging the worlds of conventional and holistic medicine grounded in scientific research.
Naturopathic doctors are trained as general practitioners with a specialty in natural medicine. The educational requirements for the naturopathic medical profession are an undergraduate degree with pre-med prerequisites, followed by a four-year, post-graduate program at a residential, nationally-accredited naturopathic medical school. Admission criteria and naturopathic curriculum are overseen by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The naturopathic program of study is similar to conventional medical school in the rigorous basic science coursework and clinical diagnostic training. In addition to training in pharmacology and conventional standard of care for treatment, naturopathic medical programs cover a range of integrative modalities including nutrition and botanical medicine. Data comparing naturopathic medical school curricula with conventional medical school curricula can be found here. Currently there are five fully accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States and two in Canada, members of the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). Graduates of nationally-accredited naturopathic programs are eligible to sit for licensing exams as regulated by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). Licensure to practice naturopathic medicine is regulated at the state level, and currently 20 states as well as the District of Columbia and territories Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands license naturopathic medicine. Michigan does not currently have a licensure law for naturopathic medicine, although legislation has been introduced and the Michigan Association of Naturopathic Physicians is actively working toward licensure. Because Michigan does not currently regulate naturopathic doctors, Dr. Quinn’s practice is consultative and does not constitute primary care or qualify for insurance reimbursement. Dr. Quinn maintains a license in the state of Vermont.