The Healing Power of Nature (vix medicatrix naturae)—The body has the inherent ability to heal itself. This healing process is intelligent and ordered. Naturopathic doctors support and assist the healing process by identifying and removing obstacles to cure and by using natural methods and medicines that work with, not against, the body's natural processes.
Identify and Treat the Cause (tolle causum)—Every illness has a cause. Causes may occur on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal, but are not the cause of illness. Naturopathic doctors are trained to find and remove the underlying cause of an illness rather than just eliminate or suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (primum non nocere) Naturopathic doctors use methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects. Methods designed to suppress symptoms but not remove the underlying cause may be harmful, and their use is avoided.
Doctor as Teacher (docere) The original meaning of the word "doctor" is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health.
Treat the Whole Person When treating an individual, all aspects of that person (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) are taken into account.
Prevention is the Best Cure Illness is often due to diet, habits, and lifestyle. Naturopathic doctors assess risk factors and susceptibility to disease and make appropriate recommendations to prevent illness or to prevent minor illness from developing into more serious or chronic disease. The emphasis is on building health rather than treating disease.
Naturopathic doctors attend a 4-year graduate level naturopathic medical school. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete 4 years of training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, and hydrotherapy. The degree conferred is Doctor of Naturopathy. A naturopathic doctor uses the initials ND after their name to denote their degree.
Licensed naturopathic doctors are primary health care doctors trained to use natural methods in preventing and treating disease. Naturopathic doctors focus on treating the whole person and promoting health. They are trained to conventionally diagnose and treat disease using the most up-to-date laboratory technologies and imaging techniques.
As with all health care choices, educate yourself. It is important to check the education and professional references of your doctors. If you are uncertain about the qualifications of someone using the ND title in an unlicensed state, contact the graduate institutions that educate NDs for alumni lists or contact the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP.) Membership in the AANP provides quality assurance that those persons identifying themselves as NDs meet the educational criteria for licensure.