What is Naturopathic Medicine?


Naturopathic medicine is an alternative form of medicine that approaches health in a holistic manner. There are six principles

  • first do no harm, 
  • the healing power of nature, 
  • discover and treat the cause, 
  • treat the whole person, 
  • doctor as teacher, and 
  • prevention. 

It is believed that the body has the ability to heal itself IF given the proper resources. Rather than masking the symptoms of an illness or disease, naturopathic physicians (NDs) focus on treating the source of disease and preventing illness while doing no harm to the patient. This can be accomplished through complementary and alternative methods, including acupuncture, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, dietary supplements, and many more.

There are only 7 accredited Naturopathic medical schools in North America – 2 in Canada and 5 in the US. However, since Bastyr University has two locations (Seattle and San Diego), there are actually 8 campus locations. Other naturopathic medical schools include:

  • National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Oregon
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences (SCNM) in Arizona, Pheonix
  • National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) in Chicago, Illinois
  • University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine in Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Naturopathic medical school is 4 years long. The first 2 years consist primarily of basic and clinical sciences, similar to allopathic medical school (MDs). The last two years branch off into natural therapy modalities (e.g. nutrition, herbal supplements, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and oriental medicine…) and hands-on practice in a clinical setting. Upon graduation, NDs must take and pass the naturopathic physicians licensing exam (NPLEX) to become a licensed primary care physician. Currently, only 17 states in the US offer licensure and regulate licensing of naturopathic physicians.