ND Program Introduction
Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-person wellness; the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self-care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment. Naturopathic doctors cooperate with all other branches of medical science, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are primary care physicians clinically trained in natural therapeutics with a philosophy derived in part from a Hippocratic teaching more than 2,000 years old: vis medicatrix naturae—nature is the healer of all diseases. Their practice is based on the same basic bio-medical science foundation as that of allopathic practice. However, their philosophies and approaches differ considerably from their conventional counterparts.
Naturopathic doctors diagnose diseases and treat patients by using natural modalities such as physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, counseling, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy, among others. They choose treatments based on the individual patient, not based on the generality of symptoms. This approach has proven successful in treating both chronic and acute conditions.
The precepts that guide the practice of naturopathic medicine include the Seven Principles of Naturopathic Medicine, The Therapeutic Order, and The Components of Patient Centered Care.
These seven principles guide the therapeutic methods and modalities of naturopathic medicine.
First Do No Harm
primum non nocere
Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective.
The Healing Power of Nature
vis medicatrix naturae
The human body possesses the inherent ability to restore health. The physician’s role is to facilitate this process with the aid of natural, nontoxic therapies.
Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect
Physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal. The origin of the disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.
Treat the Whole Person
The multiple factors in health and disease are considered while treating the whole person. Physicians provide flexible treatment programs to meet individual healthcare needs.
The Physician Is a Teacher
The physician’s major role is to educate, empower, and motivate patients to take responsibility for their own health. Creating a healthy, cooperative relationship with the patient has a strong therapeutic value.
Prevention Is the Best “Cure”
Naturopathic physicians are preventive medicine specialists. Physicians assess patient risk factors and heredity susceptibility and intervene appropriately to reduce risk and prevent illness. Prevention of disease is best accomplished through education and a lifestyle that supports health.
Establish or re-establish health and well-being.
Components of Patient-Centered Care
- Exploring the disease and the patient’s illness experience
- Understanding the whole person
- Finding common ground with the patient regarding management/treatment options
- Incorporating prevention and health promotion
- Enhancing the doctor-patient relationship
- Being realistic
Adapted from: Huang, WY. Fam Med 2002;34 (9):644-5
Re-Establish the Basis for Health
Remove obstacles to cure by establishing a healthy regimen
Stimulate the Healing Power of Nature
Use various systems of health such as botanicals, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, nutrition, and mind-body medicine
Tonify Weakened Systems
Use modalities to strengthen the immune system, decrease toxicity, normalize inflammatory function, optimize metabolic function, balance regulatory systems, enhance regeneration, and harmonize life force
Correct Structural Integrity
Use therapeutic exercise, spinal manipulation, and massage, cranial-sacral to return to optimal structural condition
Prescribe Specific Natural Substances for Pathology
Use vitamins, minerals, and herbs to return to and promote health
Prescribe Pharmacotherapy for Pathology
Use pharmaceutical drugs to return to and promote health
Prescribe Surgery, Pharmacotherapy
Use aggressive therapies to attempt to maintain health
Taken from “A Hierarchy of Healing: The Therapeutic Order” Pamela Snider, ND; Jared Zeff, ND, Lac; and Stephen Myers, ND, BMed, PhD.
At the time of this printing, 22 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and five Canadian provinces have licensing laws for naturopathic physicians. In these states, naturopathic physicians are required to graduate from an approved four-year naturopathic medical school and pass extensive postdoctoral board examinations in order to receive a license.
The North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) administers and provides the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examination (NPLEX), which is comprised of biomedical science and clinical science examinations that are used in North America to license graduates of approved naturopathic medical schools. Once licensed, naturopathic physicians must practice within a specific scope of practice defined by their state’s laws and fulfill state-mandated continuing medical education requirements annually. It is the responsibility of the student/graduate to determine the licensure laws or scope of practice in the state in which they intend to practice.
Naturopathic physicians practicing in the state of Arizona enjoy one of the broadest scopes of practice within the United States. The state of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board (NPMB) regulates the practice of naturopathic medicine in the state of Arizona. This includes applications and fees for students planning to enter clinical training and new graduates applying for licensure.
For more information on licensure please review the organizations listed below:
Licensure in Arizona
Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board
1740 West Adams, Suite 3002, Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602.542.8242 | www.nd.az.gov
Licensure in the United States and its territories
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)
300 New Jersey Ave Northwest, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202.237.8150 | www.naturopathic.org
Licensure in Canada
Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND)
20 Holly Street, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, CAN M4S 3B1
Phone: 800.551.4381 | www.cand.ca
Licensing examinations for the United States and Canada, including NPLEX
North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE)
9220 Southwest Barbur Boulevard, Suite 119, #321, Portland, OR 97219
Phone: 503.246.0694 | www.nabne.org
Scope of Practice
As Arizona maintains one of the widest scopes of practice in the United States for naturopathic medicine, the physicians practice general medicine and utilize a wide variety of therapeutics including diet and lifestyle modifications, nutritional supplementation, botanical medicine, homeopathy, counseling, mind-body medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, naturopathic manipulative therapies, physical medicine, hydrotherapy, minor surgery, prolotherapy, IV micronutrient therapy, and pharmacotherapy. Sonoran University's Medical Center and Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine offer opportunities for students to work with a diverse group of medical practitioners including naturopathic physicians, medical doctors, a Chinese medical doctor, and acupuncturists.
Sonoran University is committed to providing students with diverse clinical settings to deliver patient care. In addition to clinical clerkships at the Medical Center and Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine, Sonoran University physicians and students provide care to underserved patient populations at a variety of community clinics. These clinics are staffed by faculty members who oversee both the students’ education and the patients’ care. The community clinics provide students access to a broad range of patient populations and disease conditions not regularly seen at Sonoran University's medical facilities, see Extended Sites Community Clinics.
The legal aspects of practicing naturopathic medicine vary by state in the United States and by province in Canada. In those states and provinces in which naturopathic physicians are licensed, NDs may see patients for general healthcare and for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions. Their scope of practice may include nutritional science; botanical medicine; naturopathic manipulative therapies and other physical medicine; Chinese medicine; acupuncture; homeopathy; mind-body medicine; natural childbirth; minor surgery; prescriptive authority, including immunizations; and all methods of laboratory, x-ray, and clinical diagnoses.
Practicing Without a License
In Arizona, practicing naturopathic medicine without a license involves the diagnosis or treatment of any patient by an unsupervised naturopathic medical student or any other unlicensed person where money may or may not be exchanged. Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS Title 32) defines practicing without a license as any conduct involving the unauthorized, intended, or perceived practice of any of the healing arts, including but not limited to the unauthorized practice of naturopathic medicine or other healing arts, regardless of whether the violation ultimately results in conviction or prosecution under relevant laws, and regardless of whether the violation results in any sanction or other formal or informal action by any administrative or regulatory body outside the University. For more information, please see Prohibited Behaviors in the Student Handbook.