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What Is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is a blend of alternative and complementary healing practices. The philosophy of naturopathy is to treat the whole person instead of just the symptom. Methods of naturopathy include changes in exercise and diet and use of herbal supplements and acupuncture. Continue reading for more information about naturopathic practices and how to enter a career in this field.

The Nature of Naturopathy

Naturopathy is an alternative practice of medicine and treatment that operates under the philosophy to holistically to treat the whole person and recognizes the natural healing abilities of the body. Naturopathic physicians attempt to treat the roots of problems rather than just symptoms to prevent recurrence and help restore health. Naturopathy also integrates preventative care and education about healthy living.

Naturopathy includes a number of treatment methods and therapies. The most basic techniques incorporate changes in diet, addition of exercise and other lifestyle changes, such as use of stress reduction techniques. Naturopathy also might make use of additional methods, such as:

  • Consumption of vitamins, minerals and herbs
  • Incorporation of traditional Chinese medicine
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Detoxification
  • Counseling

Important Facts About Naturopathy

Key Skills Listening, communication, and motivational skills
Online Learning Availability Offered, but not recommended
Work Environment Health clinic or home
Professional Certification Available through the American Naturopathic Certification Board
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training and Licensure

Naturopathic physicians, or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.), attend 4-year medical schools devoted to natural health and naturopathy. As of 2013, the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) had only approved five schools in the United States and two schools in Canada. Students are trained in basic medicine and science like M.D.s but also study alternative approaches and therapies, like homeopathy, phytotherapy, environmental medicine, Oriental medicine and mind-body therapy. Both classroom-based and clinical coursework are required.

Naturopathic physicians must adhere to licensing requirements in 17 states. To qualify for licensure, one must complete a 4-year degree program from a school approved by NABNE and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX), which includes both a biomedical science exam and a clinical science exam.

Career Information

Naturopathic doctors may become primary care or rural community doctors, but they have an array of additional career options. They may work as naturopathic medicine researchers or consultants, or they could become naturopathic educators or public advocates.

There is a growing movement toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practice and usage, and some CAM is being incorporated into conventional medicine. According to a survey conducted by the National Center of Health Statistics and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, at least 14.3% of U.S. adults used some form of CAM (yoga, meditation, or chiropractor) in 2017. PayScale.com listed salary figures for naturopathic physicians in May 2019. The 10th-90th percentile salary range was very diverse: $37,000 - $127,000. The median annual salary was $72,009.