Naturopathic Doctors 101

“You’re a Na-tur-ro…what?”  This is not an uncommon phase to be heard by a Naturopathic Doctor, even here in New Hampshire where there is a good concentration of Naturopathic Doctors (NDs). Even patients of NDs are often unaware of the plethora of therapies and services NDs are trained in.  Naturopathic Doctors attend one of 5 accredited universities in the United States.  These doctorate level programs are a minimum of 4 years long with a competitive option for another 1-3 years of residency. Naturopathic medical school curriculum contains the same basic sciences of conventional medical school (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, etc…) as well as additional classes in naturopathic-specific therapies.  Examples of these Naturopathic-specific therapies include: nutritional therapies, counseling, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and physical medicine.  This education prepares graduates of accredited programs to enter the medical profession as primary care physicians after passing the Naturopathic licensing board exams (NPLEX).

There are 17 states (and counting) that provide licensure for NDs currently in the United States.  Each of those states governs a different scope of practice for NDs practicing within their state lines.  For example, the state of New Hampshire has a rather comprehensive scope of practice. NDs in NH are licensed medical providers with prescribing rights for the majority of common pharmaceuticals and have coverage by most insurances in the state.

So how does a Naturopathic Doctor practice?

Naturopathic doctors follow the same general model as Medical doctors, with extra assessments and therapies incorporated.  The process looks something like this:

  1. Obtain a detailed history of the patient’s current and past medical issues.
  2. Perform appropriate physical exam to aid in diagnosis
  3. Order any necessary labs or imaging
  4. Determine biomedical assessment and Naturopathic assessment
  5. Decide upon proper Naturopathic and conventional treatment options for the individual patient.
  6. Provide efficient follow up

Some special considerations that NDs add to medical assessment include:

  • General Lifestyle (diet, hydration, exercise, sleep)
  • Nutritional stress
  • Chemical and environmental stress
  • Elimination channels and detoxification processes
  • Hormonal stress
  • Mental, emotional, and spiritual health
  • Structural stress

What does this look like at Summit Holistic Medicine?

Summit Holistic Medicine is a shining example of a Naturopathic primary care practice.  Our services include:

  • Annual exams (both male and female)
  • Chronic disease management
  • Acute disease management (for established patients)
  • Well child exams
  • Pediatric care
  • Prenatal care
  • Standard laboratory assessment
  • Weight management
  • Stress management
  • Detoxification therapies and environmental medicine
  • Heavy metal toxicity assessment and management
  • Immune system assessment and autoimmune management
  • Digestive health assessment and management
  • Sports medicine/Performance assessments

While this provides a good idea of what our physicians can address, the best way to find out how we can help you specifically, is to come in for a visit. Also, be sure to keep us in mind when you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, here are some ideas for how our physicians can assist you in the New Year:

  • Support and direction in your weight management goals: why are those extra pounds sticking around for you, specifically?
  • Baseline health assessments: when was the last time you had routine bloodwork and a physical exam?
  • Nutritional counseling: how to eat healthy in the New Year and prepare for spring detox.
  • Elimination diet and anti-inflammatory diet guidance: what food sensitivities are causing inflammation in your body?

By Dr. Hilary Trojano, ND