Frequently Asked Questions
What do naturopathic doctors offer that is different from regular doctors?
Naturopathic doctors see health in a different way than conventional doctors do. Health is not just the absence of disease, it is feeling and looking well, having energy and purpose, and being fit in mental and emotional as well as physical areas. Naturopathic doctors are trained to look at the person first and the disease second. They assess whole body functioning and find the root cause to a group of unrelated symptoms. They recommend treatments that not only combat diseases, but support the body to perform optimally.
Can I still use conventional medicine and see my regular doctor if I am seeing a naturopathic doctor?
Absolutely. In fact, in the state of Illinois, a naturopathic doctor cannot be your primary care provider legally, because we are not licensed to diagnose or treat diseases. So we always encourage you to continue your relationship with your PCP, and use consult a naturopathic practitioner in addition.
Naturopathic medicine cannot completely replace conventional (allopathic) medicine, because there are simply sometimes you need treatment such as medications or surgery. Sometimes, allopathic medicine is indicated; however, there are many conditions that allopathic medicine does not address well, that are well-treated with naturopathic medicine in addition to or sometimes instead of allopathic medicine.
A big problem with our health care system is lack of choices. We believe all types of medicine have their place in creating health, but our health care system is dominated by one paradigm of care. You have the right to use whatever type of medicine you want; it is always your choice.
Why aren't visits to naturopathic doctors covered by insurance?
In some states, there is excellent coverage for naturopathic and other complementary medicines. In Illinois, there is no coverage, because licensing for naturopathic medicine is not offered. Without licensing, we cannot become a provider with an insurance company.
If you'd like to see this change, start by asking your insurance provider about naturopathic medicine coverage, and contact your state government representatives about licensing of naturopathic physicians. For more information on how to do this, please visit the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians website at www.ilanp.org. When enough people (patients and supporters) demand naturopathic medicine be recognized and accessible, the current state of naturopathic medicine will change.
Do naturopathic doctors go to real medical schools?
Just as osteopathic and chiropractic doctors attend different schools than allopathic (conventional) doctors, so do naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic doctors attend real medical schools, but real naturopathic medical schools. The training in all types of medical schools is similar in the first two years, with training in basic sciences like anatomy and biochemistry, and diagnostic skills. In naturopathic medical schools, there are additional classes in naturopathic philosophy, nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, counseling, and naturopathic assessment. The bigger difference lies in patient care training. In naturopathic schools, the third and fourth years of training are dedicated to clinical sciences like oncology, gynecology, and pediatrics, as well as patient care. Because few naturopathic doctors work in hospitals, we do not train in them. Instead, they see patients primarily in outpatient clinical settings. There are differences in schools, but programs in all medical schools, including accredited naturopathic programs, are rigorous, extensive, and competitive, in order to adequately train physicians. For more information about naturopathic training, please visit the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC).
What is the training for naturopathic physicians?
There are currently only 5 Naturopathic medical programs in the U.S. (including National University of Health Sciences, located in Illinois) that are accredited naturopathic schools or candidates for accreditation. These naturopathic medical programs have similar requirements for admission to conventional medical schools. They provide rigorous training in the first two years in the basic sciences, such as anatomy and pathology, along with some introductory courses in naturopathic theory and therapeutics. The last two years are focused on clinical training and clinical sciences, such as gynecology and pediatrics. In addition, students learn advanced naturopathic theory and therapeutics. Upon graduation, naturopathic physicians take board exams in order to be licensed.