What Is a Naturopathic Doctor?


According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, a naturopathic doctor mixes treatments from traditional folk medicines with modern medical technique. As of March 2015, the practice of naturopathic medicine is not allowed in most of the United States and there is some controversy about its legitimacy and effectiveness.

A central philosophy of naturopathic medicine is that the human body has its own powerful innate healing mechanisms that are supported by maintaining a natural balance. Naturopathic treatments therefore focus on holistic treatments. The AANP claims that naturopathic doctors are capable of treating any medical condition.

While the body does have its own internal healing mechanisms, critics counter that the central concept of a natural balance (often taking the form of the traditional Chinese medicine concept of "qi") is not supported by science and is in fact contradicted by organic chemistry. At present, the only states that recognize the credentials of naturopathic doctors and allow them to practice are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Credentialing in the states that allow the practice is usually done through one of several degree programs. Exact licensing rules and requirements vary by state.