Are you are interested in seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND) but don’t know where to start? Choosing a naturopath can be a daunting task, but there are things to look for that will make the process significantly easier.
Here are the 2 most important things to look for in a naturopath:
- The ND has a naturopathic medical degree earned from an accredited, four year, in-residence, naturopathic medical college
- They passed rigorous board exams as part of a licensure or certification process
There are currently seven accredited naturopathic medical programs in North America. They are: Bastyr University, National University of Natural Medicine, National University of Health Sciences, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, University of Bridgeport—College of Naturopathic Medicine, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine.
Twenty-three states and U.S. territories permit access to safe, effective, and affordable licensed or certified naturopathic doctors.
These states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.
What to expect in your first visit
During your first visit, your licensed naturopathic doctor will take your health history. They will ask questions about your diet, stress levels, lifestyle and exercise habits. They may also ask about tobacco and alcohol use and prescription drugs and supplements you are taking. You most likely will also discuss the reasons you sought out a naturopathic doctor. They might perform a physical examination and order diagnostic tests. Based on findings, the doctor will work with you to set up a customized treatment plan and health management strategy. If necessary, the doctor will refer you to other health care practitioners.
Naturopathic doctors understand conventional medicine and use many of its diagnostic tools and treatments in their practices. This insures that naturopaths have different perspectives than medical doctors. Naturopaths bring an array of insights into treatment plans and health management strategies that typically are not taught in conventional medical schools. These insights might not be available from a conventional medical doctor. One example is the use of plant-based medicines (botanicals). Used correctly, these medicines along with lifestyle changes can improve many aspects of a patient’s health.
Your naturopathic doctor will focus on understanding the root causes of health symptoms you might be experiencing. They will also spend time addressing your overall health and wellness goals. This takes time. As a result, your first visit might last an hour or more and follow-up visits could last 30 minutes or more, although this varies depending on the individual.
How to find a naturopathic doctor
Licensed naturopathic doctors work in a variety of clinical settings, including private practices, hospitals, clinics, and community health centers. As a service to consumers, the AANP provides a naturopathic doctor directory of its members and finder tool on its website, available here.
For more information, please contact us with any questions you may have. You can also check out our page about naturopathic medicine for more detail on what we offer and meet our amazing Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Mary Hall.