The legal aspects of practicing naturopathic medicine vary from state to state in the U.S. and from province to province in Canada. In those states in which naturopathic physicians may be licensed as primary health care providers, NDs may see patients for general health care and for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions. Their scope of practice may include, but is not limited to:
The use of plant medicine is core to naturopathic practice and is therefore central to the curriculum. Botanical medicines are used in both traditional herbal formulations and as phytomedicines, which are scientifically researched and formulated. A resurgence of scientific research in Europe and Asia is demonstrating that some plant substances are superior to synthetic drugs in clinical situations.
This natural health system, developed by Samuel Hahnemann in the 1840s, continues to evolve. Some conditions that conventional medicine has no treatment for respond well to homeopathy.
The concept, "Let your food be your medicine and medicine your food" has been the foundation of naturopathic medicine. A growing body of scientific knowledge in this area is reflected in numerous professional journals of nutrition and dietary sciences, supporting the naturopathic approach to diet and nutrition. Many medical conditions can be treated as effectively with foods and nutritional supplements as they can by any other means, but with fewer complications and side effects.
The art of touch, massage, physical therapy, and spinal manipulation are the basic tools of naturopathic manipulative therapy (NMT) for chronic disease, and neck, back, sports, and motor vehicle injuries. The "tone" of a physician's touch is a key non-verbal ingredient in establishing a successful, trusting relationship with patients and is a core component in the curriculum.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in the fundamentals of oriental medicine and diagnosis, and may use acupuncture, acupressure and oriental botanical medicine in their practices.
Children and adults are now being exposed to greater quantities of chemicals in the environment and food supply. These chemicals interact synergistically to increase their negative effects. Naturopathic detoxification and immune restoration therapies are an important aspect of the practice.
Counseling and Stress Management
Mental attitudes and emotional states can be important elements in healing and disease. Naturopathic physicians are trained in various psychological techniques, including counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management, hypnotherapy, biofeedback and other methods.
This includes repair of superficial wounds, removal of foreign bodies, cysts and other superficial masses with local anesthesia as needed.