"In a word, Naturopathy stands for the reconciling, harmonizing and unifying of nature, humanity and God. Fundamentally therapeutic because men need healing; elementally educational because men need teaching; ultimately inspirational because men need empowering, it encompasses the realm of human progress and destiny."
- Benedict Lust
Naturopathy is a therapeutic approach developed in the early 20th century by Benedict Lust and some of his contemporaries. It combined a number of existing natural therapy techniques and consolidated many of the doctors practicing natural medicine at the time.
Today, Naturopathic Doctors receive medical training commensurate with conventional medical doctors. Specifically, they must meet pre-medical requirements (the same as M.D.'s and D.O.'s) before acceptance into a 4 year Naturopathic medical school - e.g. Bastyr University.
During the first 2 years of medical school Naturopathic candidates are trained in the basic and clinical sciences (e.g. pathology, gross anatomy, biochemistry, physical and clinical diagnosis, etc.). The curriculum is modeled after those of conventional medical schools. Students are instructed by same professors that teach or have taught at conventional medical schools.
The main difference lies in the therapeutics. Naturopathic physicians study a broad range of alternative healing approaches including clinical nutrition, therapeutic diets, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, hydrotherapy and counseling. Naturopathic doctors also receive training in minor surgery and pharmacology. However, training in pharmaceutical medicine is not as extensive as that found in conventional medical school, since this isn't their preferred approach to treatment.
Naturopaths in Arizona receive additional training and certification by the state medical board. Because of broader prescriptive rights, the state requires Naturopathic doctors demonstrate comprehensive competence in pharmaceutical prescribing in addition to passing the state's Naturopathic board of exams.
Naturopathic physicians are licensed in 17 states, as well as, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you live in a state without licensing, anyone there can call themselves a Naturopathic Doctor. These people typically purchase a "degree" through the mail and have no formal medical education or training. To ensure that your doctor has attended a 4 year post graduate medical school you can visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Here you can find legitimate doctors who have graduated from an accredited 4 year medical school.
If you are a supporter of Naturopathic medicine and you believe that the citizens of all 50 states should have access to doctors specifically and comprehensively trained in complementary and alternative medicine, please visit the AANP to find out how to support state licensure.
It is interesting to note that our biggest opponents are not the American Medical Association, but rather, it's the untrained fake or mail-order "naturopaths" that fight standards and licensing in the remaining states. Unfortunately, they have more members and money than we do and have been very successful blocking state licensure. However, recent victories with the licensing of California and the District of Columbia are tremendously encouraging. Your letters and support can make a difference!