Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct primary health care profession in North America (22 US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, five Canadian provinces), Europe (Germany, Portugal, Switzerland), Asia (India), Latin America (Brazil, Chile) and Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa) that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Examiners (CNME) is the regulating body that accredits doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine in the U.S. and Canada that meet or exceed their educational standards. The CNME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit doctoral programs in naturopathic medicine.
The CNME’s in-depth accreditation process promotes high-quality naturopathic education and training, and safe and effective medical practice. These educational standards provide the basis for licensing/regulating naturopathic doctors in the U.S. and Canada.
The CNME does not accredit online or distance education programs.
Naturopathic physicians (NDs) are required to graduate from a four-year, residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX, or Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations) in order to receive a license to practice medicine.
These doctoral programs emphasize the use of natural modalities—such as nutrition, lifestyle counseling and botanical medicine—in maintaining wellness and treating illness. The comprehensive program of study also includes coursework in the biomedical and clinical sciences, similar to what is studied in DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), DC (Doctor of Chiropratic) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) programs, as well as hands-on clinical training.
To obtain (and retain) an active license, naturopathic physicians must fulfill state- or province-mandated continuing education requirements annually. Licensed doctors have a specific scope of practice defined by the law in their state or province.
Naturopathic physicians blend centuries-old knowledge of mind-body medicine and natural, nontoxic therapies with current advances in the understanding of health, human physiology and modern diagnostic techniques. Doctors trained in this system of medicine cover the range of family and primary care, from preconception and pediatrics to geriatrics.
Naturopathic physicians are trained to concentrate on whole patient wellness through health promotion and disease prevention, attempting to find the underlying cause of the patient’s condition (not simply stop a symptom) and support the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.