Dr. Sarah Murphy, N.D.,L.Ac.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary healthcare that emphasizes prevention, the treatment of illness and the promotion of health through the use of natural therapies that seek to encourage the self-healing process. Naturopathic Doctors are the medical experts in natural therapies and are the most comprehensively trained specialists in complementary and alternative medicine. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the six principles that underlie and determine its practice.
Dr. Andrew Weil Endorses Naturopathic Doctors
THE EDUCATION OF NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS
Naturopathic Doctors are trained at accredited, four-year, post-graduate naturopathic medical schools. Their comprehensive medical training includes studies in all of the conventional medical sciences (anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, etc.), physical examination and diagnosis, laboratory and diagnostic imaging studies, specialized clinical courses (cardiology, EENT, gynecology, gastroenterology, urology, etc.), naturopathic philosophy, pharmacology, and a variety of both natural and conventional therapies. These therapies include:
● Lifestyle Modifications
● Nutrient Therapies
● Botanical Medicine
● Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
● IV Therapy
● Physical Therapies (Naturopathic Manipulation Therapy)
● Minor Surgery
BOARD EXAMS FOR THE LICENSURE OF NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS
In order to become licensed practitioners, naturopathic doctors are required to pass the NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination) - a 3-day long national board exam in the basic and clinical medical sciences as well as in all of the naturopathic medicine therapeutics.
Scope of Practice in CaliforniaNaturopathic doctors attained the ability to be licensed primary care doctors in the state of California in 2003.
Naturopathic doctors may order and perform physical and laboratory examinations for diagnostic purposes. This includes but is not limited to school and annual physicals, gynecological exams and male wellness exams. This also includes performing blood draws and running blood tests. They may also order diagnostic imaging studies, including X-ray, ultrasound, mammogram, bone densitometry, and others.
Naturopathic Doctors may prescribe herbs, food, vitamins and minerals, homeopathic remedies, dietary supplements, enzymes, nutraceuticals, amino acids, natural and synthetic hormones, and nonprescription drugs. They may order prescription drugs under the supervision of a physician or surgeon (MD or DO).
Other therapies that they may prescribe and offer include massage,hydrotherapy, resistance or stretching of the joints and small amplitude movement, electromagnetic energy, colon hydrotherapy and therapeutic exercise. They also may prescribe and administer IV/IM/SC injections.
Origins and History of Naturopathic MedicineThe term “naturopathy” was coined by Benedict Lust, a German immigrant, who established Naturopathic Medicine as a distinct profession in North America at the turn of the 20th century. Lust’s teacher, Father Sebastian Kneipp, was famous in Europe for being involved with a movement known as "Nature Cure." The Nature Cure movement promoted a healing system of utilizing clean food, water, air, sun, exercise and hydrotherapy (hot and cold applications of water) to restore health.
Father Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest and gifted healer, published My Water Cure in 1882. The message of the book was “how to lead a healthy life with special consideration to diet, dwellings, sleep, clothing, exercise and care of the body and soul.” He realized that a return to nature was necessary to restore health in those with degenerative, acutely impaired or chronic illnesses. Lust began using the term “naturopathy” to describe the mixture of disciplines and therapies he used to treat illness.
Lust had first hand experience with Father Kneipp’s methods and attributed his own healing from serious illness to nature cure. While the profession by name is just a century old, the natural therapies and philosophy on which naturopathic medicine are based have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. The use of herbal remedies, dietary interventions, hydrotherapy, and lifestyle changes have been used throughout history and in nearly every culture to inhabit the Earth. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, first formulated the concept of vis medicatrix naturae -- "the healing power of nature". This concept has long been at the core of medicine in many cultures around the world and remains one of the central themes of naturopathic philosophy today.
Naturopathic medicine was popular and widely available throughout the United States well into the early part of the 20th century. In 1920, there were many naturopathic medical schools, thousands of naturopathic physicians, and thousands of patients using naturopathic therapies around the country. But by mid-century the rise of "technological medicine" and the discovery and increased use of "miracle drugs" like antibiotics were associated with the temporary decline of naturopathic medicine and most other methods of natural healing.
By the 1970's, however, the American public was becoming increasingly disenchanted with what had become "conventional medicine." The profound clinical limitations and its out-of-control costs were becoming obvious, and millions of Americans were inspired to look for options and alternatives. Naturopathy, and all complementary and alternative medicine, began to enter an era of rejuvenation.
For more information about Naturopathic Medicine:
California Naturopathic Doctors Association: www.calnd.org
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians: www.naturopathic.org
California Department of Consumer Affairs - Naturopathic Medicine Committee: www.naturopathic.ca.gov