Naturopathy, the practice of naturopathic medicine, is a comprehensive and advanced system of medicine that draws on a range of therapeutic systems, including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, and environmental medicine.
Naturopathic treatments can complement conventional medicine or be used effectively on their own. Aimed at improving health and addressing illness in people of all ages, it is the art, science, philosophy, and practice of disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness, using natural therapies and natural medicines.
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles that underlie and determine its practice. Methods used are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic physicians work to restore balance in a gentle and effective way, minimizing the potential for side effects. The aim of the naturopathic physician is always to respect and support the body's ability to heal itself.
Much as in the training of a conventional medical doctor, naturopathic medical students attend a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school, after which they must pass North American board examinations to obtain a license to practice medicine. The training of a naturopathic physician develops unique skills in bridging conventional and natural medicine, providing patients with knowledgeable advocates who can help them make informed choices about their health.
Naturopathic physicians are trained to provide primary care and/or naturopathic specialty care and are experts in the use of natural therapies and drug-nutrient and drug-herb interactions. Currently, naturopathic physicians practice in a wide range of in-patient and out-patient settings, such as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and frequently serve as expert advisors in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. At the national level, they have played prominent roles in organizations such as The White House Commission on CAM, the advisory board for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee.