Naturopathic Medicine

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Naturopathic Medicine FAQs

[startaccordion title="What is naturopathic medicine?"]Please see our Naturopathic Medicine Overview page.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="Is naturopathic medicine the same as homeopathy?"]Naturopathic medicine and homeopathy are commonly confused and the terms are often used interchangeably. They are, however, distinct practices. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained and licensed as primary health care practitioners. They diagnose medical conditions in a manner similar to conventional doctors, and treat those illnesses using naturopathic methods. These include clinical nutrition and supplementation, botanical medicine, lifestyle modification and counseling, hydrotherapy and homeopathy. Many naturopathic doctors pursue advanced education in homeopathy and so may use homeopathy extensively in their practices. Homeopaths are classically trained in accordance with homeopathic principles and are experts in prescribing homeopathic remedies. They may not be trained in nutrition, herbal medicine or conventional medical diagnosis. They do not have the same scope of practice as NDs. For more information about homeopathic medicine, please visit The Society of Homeopaths.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="How are naturopathic doctors (NDs) different from MDs?"] Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine are both valuable systems that excel at different aspects of patient care. Conventional medicine is crucial in most emergency situations, and is effective at controlling the body’s physiology when necessary. Naturopathic medicine is the best approach to prevention, because it involves a wellness-oriented diet, lifestyle change and supplements that support the body. Naturopathic medicine is often also the best first step in dealing with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or eczema, because these conditions often improve when diet, lifestyle and nutrient deficiencies are addressed. Additionally, naturopathic medicine is a great choice for non-emergency acute illnesses, such as colds and flus, because naturopathic medicine modalities effectively support the body’s immune system. (from[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="How are naturopathic doctors trained?"] Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are the only primary care providers who are clinically trained in both natural and conventional approaches to medicine. NDs attend four-year post-graduate federally recognized and accredited medical schools and are trained in the same medical sciences as medical doctors (MDs). Their education includes the latest advances in medicine, with a focus on natural approaches to treatment and an underlying philosophy of treating the root cause of disease. Naturopathic doctors’ education and training includes:
  • Two years of basic science education (e.g., gross anatomy, biochemistry, physiology)
  • A Board exam covering basic sciences
  • Two years of education in the clinical sciences (e.g., gynecology, oncology, cardiology)
  • A Board exam covering the clinical sciences
  • An integrated curriculum incorporating conventional and alternative treatment approaches
NDs’ training emphasizes treating disease with a wide range of natural therapies, such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, counseling, musculoskeletal techniques, and clinical nutrition. Naturopathic doctors are trained in the appropriate use of conventional and alternative testing techniques. They complete 1,500 hours of clinical internships and treat patients under the supervision of naturopathic and conventional doctors in an outpatient setting. (from[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="What’s the difference between a naturopath and a naturopathic doctor?"] It is important to distinguish licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) from lay practitioners who may refer to themselves as “naturopaths” but who do not have accredited didactic and clinical naturopathic medical training. In California, naturopathic doctors are licensed as primary care providers. California law requires them to be graduates of an accredited naturopathic medical school with a minimum of 4,100 hours of training. Of the total hours required, 2,500 are didactic classroom-based training hours, with a minimum of 1,200 hours of clinic-based supervised learning. Candidates must also pass a national licensing exam administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). (from[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="What kinds of treatments does a naturopathic doctor use?"] Please see our Naturopathic Medicine Tools page.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="What conditions does a naturopathic doctor treat?"] Please see our Services section.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="What types of people can naturopathic doctors help?"] Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are likened to general practitioners or family practice physicians and as such can treat any and all people, from newborns to senior citizens who are not in an acute medical emergency. While we can help almost anyone, we are especially good at dealing with chronic disease, such as digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular disease, mood imbalances and fatigue. These complex, often multifactorial conditions require comprehensive problem-solving and integrated treatments, and NDs are uniquely positioned to coordinate care with conventional doctors while using cutting edge natural therapies.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="Do naturopathic doctors treat children?"] Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat people of all ages. Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group has doctors who specialize in working with children. Because NDs are experts at using safe, gentle and effective therapies, naturopathic medicine is perfect for children. Taking your child to an ND is a great way to set them on a path of long-term health. Well-child exams are comprehensive and there is enough time to answer your questions about how to best feed your child and help them get the sleep they need. We share your concern about the increasing burden of toxins in the environment, and are up-to-date on the latest and best natural products, from toys, to laundry detergent, to the safest mattresses. Whether your child has autism, asthma, eczema, ear infections, colds and flus, digestive problems or food allergies, we can help. We use treatments that don’t simply suppress her symptoms. We work on finding and addressing the cause. Our ultimate goal is to empower your family with the knowledge you need to handle most common problems. We do this by taking the time to explain the purpose of every treatment and answering any questions you might have about how and why illness—and recovery—happens. When appropriate, we help to teach your little one how to interpret what they are experiencing in their body, so he or she can fully participate in the healing process. We work closely with families to ensure that they are comfortable and confident in the process. The ultimate goal is to educate families to feel empowered to handle most common problems on their own and avoid unnecessary time and money spent on doctors’ visits. This involves not only teaching parents what to do in certain situations but also teaching children how to interpret what is going on in their bodies and communicate that to their parents successfully. [endaccordion] [startaccordion title="Can naturopathic doctors order labs?"] Yes. We can order all standard blood work used by conventional doctors to screen for and diagnose diseases. In addition, we use specialized testing from state-of-the-art laboratories that are on the forefront of functional medicine. These specialized labs help us to diagnose food allergies and sensitivities, hormonal imbalances and digestive problems that may otherwise be missed.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="Will naturopathic doctors work with other doctors to manage care?"] Our doctors are happy to work in conjunction with any of the health care providers on your team. We also provide referrals to other clinics and health practitioners as needed or as requested by you.[endaccordion] [startaccordion title="Can I use naturopathic medicine if I am taking pharmaceutical medications?"]Yes. Our doctors are well trained in pharmacology and aware of any potential interactions that may occur between pharmaceutical medications and natural therapies. Many of the treatments we employ are safe to use with medication, and over time, may help you need less of it.[endaccordion]