If you’ve read much about alternative health, you’ve come across the word “naturopath” or you’ve seen the initials “N.D.” (instead of “M.D.”) following a doctor’s name. The doctors we interview in our Special Reports are often N.D.’s. The initials stand for Doctor of Naturopathy.
You’ve probably seen the word, but you may wonder what it means, and what kind of qualifications and training the person has. I know I used to wonder all the time. What the heck IS an N.D.? Who are these people? Keep reading, because I decided to investigate and I’m going to tell you what you need to know.
Let me say right off: Here at Cancer Defeated we’ve been researching alternative cancer treatments for about eighteen years, and some of the best people we’ve come across are naturopathic doctors. In fact, some of the best cancer experts aren’t ANY kind of doctor at all. They come from other fields.
I’m mainly interested in results. I don’t care all that much about what the diploma on the wall says.
An embarrassing revelation…
But at the same time, I have a confession to make. I must admit I feel a bit deflated when someone who calls himself a doctor turns out to be an N.D. instead of an M.D. It’s like a little voice in my head says, “Oh, you mean he’s not a real doctor.”
I should kick myself, but the mainstream medical profession has surrounded itself with such an aura of superiority, I’m still a bit intimidated by their smug claims. The propaganda has worked. After all, we’ve been exposed to it all our lives. They’re the establishment and they’ve got all the power and most of the money.
If nothing else, I know M.D.’s are pretty bright and they’ve survived just about the toughest obstacle course in the education industry. But I also know something else. I went to a so-called elite school way back in the 1970s. About half the undergrads were trying to get into medical school. No kidding, that’s how many guys at my college wanted to be doctors (it was an all-male college back in those days).
And even at that tender age I had serious doubts about the motive and personality of the people who were going into that profession. Too many of them wanted to become doctors for the money and the social status. This sounds harsh, but it’s a fact. I saw it with my own 19-year-old eyes.
Oh, heavens, they studied hard and were bright, but if being an engineer or running a dry-cleaning store had paid as well, then they would have become engineers or dry cleaners. Being a country boy, I was new to such blatant careerism, and it shocked me. I thought a person chose a profession because he found it rewarding. Some of these guys told me privately they HATED the idea of becoming a doctor.
Their interest in medicine – if they even had any – was more like the interest kids these days have in computers. They were fascinated by the science and technology aspect. But most of them didn’t rise to even that level of interest. It was all about having a lucrative, high-status career. For doctors reading this who did (and do) really feel the call, forgive this, but if you’re honest with yourselves I think you’ll have to admit it’s true of some of those in your profession.
So, I have no hesitation about recommending other types of medicine, including naturopathy. I’ve had great success treating myself with alternatives. Give me a so-called “quack” any old day. My friends and relatives who stuck with conventional medicine are falling apart around me, while I’m not doing too badly for someone my age. What’s more, surveys show the same is true of most people who are into alternative medicine. We’re a healthy bunch.
What’s a naturopath? I finally found out!
The truth is that many naturopathic doctors have a lot of the same skills as conventional doctors, but they receive additional training in natural therapies and a commitment to heal the body, not just medicate it.
Just look at the six values that govern them – all of which are centered around a natural approach to healing.
The first commits them to treating the cause of an illness instead of just suppressing the symptoms, as in conventional medicine.
Second, they follow the mantra to “First, do no harm,” meaning they steer clear of drugs and procedures with harmful side effects.
Patient education is the third core value. Naturopathic doctors believe being a physician means teaching, not dominating a patient.
Fourth, naturopathic doctors treat you as a whole person instead of a combination of parts. They consider physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and social factors before labeling anything. No cookie-cutter diagnoses, in other words.
Fifth, they work to prevent illness by considering your individual risk factors and making personalized interventions.
And their last core value is to place a huge emphasis on the healing power of nature and the body’s innate ability to heal itself. This means they turn to drugs only as a last course of action.
Bottom line – naturopathic medicine is designed to curb most chronic illnesses without sentencing you to a lifetime of drugs and nasty side effects.
You rarely hear a medical doctor say, “Let’s figure out the cause of your problem so you can get over this without having to take drugs the rest of your life.” Their solution is the drugs!
Their attitude is profoundly wrong, because chronic diseases can be caused by something as simple as a wheat allergy or a sensitivity to preservatives. Those causes are more common than you think. I’ve seen them repeatedly in friends of mine. So, don’t let yourself be put on a lifetime regimen of drugs because your doctor doesn’t know how to diagnose your problem correctly.
How do you find a qualified naturopathic doctor?
The main problem with naturopathic medicine is that it’s not widely regulated. I’m not a fan of regulation, but the lack of it means you must do your own homework and think for yourself.
The title Doctor of Naturopathy isn’t protected. So, depending on which state you live in, any practitioner can use the title whether they’re qualified or not.
Right now, there are three levels of naturopathic care. The first consists of practitioners who are largely self-taught or who went through some type of apprenticeship. They call themselves “naturopaths.” Sometimes they’re good, sometimes not. I’m not putting down the good ones – I’ve met some self-taught or lightly-credentialed healers who are very good indeed. But you need to check things out. Again, look at their results specifically in the conditions that you’re suffering from.
The next level up is practitioners who practice under other professional licenses but offer some naturopathic services – a chiropractor might do this, for example. Chiropractors have plunged wholesale into herbal medicines, supplements, and other alternative therapies. Some of them are very good healers. Others, not so much.
Chiropractic these days has soared far above what it was 40 years ago. I take it seriously as a clinically validated form of healing. I’ve personally been cured of “untreatable” health problems by a chiropractor, and I know other people who have as well.
But the third level of naturopathic medicine – and your best bet for primary healthcare – is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a four-year medical degree. These naturopathic doctors (N.D.’s) complete graduate-level programs that include the same basic sciences studied by conventional doctors. In fact, some naturopathic medical schools require more instruction in basic and clinical sciences than do a lot of the top medical schools.
Along with those basic sciences, they train in all the natural therapies: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, massage, hydrotherapy, and more.
Naturopathic medical schools are formally accredited by a council recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. A lot of them go through internships and residencies. They must pass board exams to be licensed as primary care doctors. Some go on to work in research. The National Institutes of Health even funds some naturopathic medical research into cancer and many other illnesses.
Regulatory red tape abounds
The problem, and the reason a lot of people can’t get access to naturopathic care, is that the profession is still hung up in regulatory red tape.
Right now, eighteen states and three U.S. jurisdictions regulate the profession – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. It is still illegal to practice naturopathy in the states of Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Some naturopathic doctors can write prescriptions or give vaccines, but it depends on where they live. Right now, some of the states that grant N.D. licenses give prescription rights, while others allow N.D.’s to perform surgery.
Washington State has the most freedom on the naturopathic front. N.D.’s there are considered comparable to primary care M.D.’s. Washington naturopathic doctors even accept insurance. In Connecticut, the insurance situation is even better – the state law there forces all insurance companies to cover naturopathic services.
But go somewhere like Texas or Iowa and you’ll have a harder time even finding a licensed naturopathic doctor. It’s sickening to think about, but your right to non-invasive, healing care is pretty much determined by where you live. Especially when it comes to cancer treatment. There’s a reason why so many naturopathic and alternative cancer doctors choose to practice outside the borders of the United States.
The ideal situation would be for all of us to use naturopathic doctors as our primary caregivers. But given the lack of N.D. licensing laws in most states, it’s just not possible.
If you’re in a state where you can access qualified naturopathic care, do it. And even if your state doesn’t license N.D.’s, you may still be able to find a degreed naturopathic doctor who practices under a license issued by another state (though their scope of practice would be limited).
If your only option is to see a traditional naturopath — one who lacks all the fancy credentials —it’s essential you ask for qualifications and references. You don’t want to end up being treated by someone who got his or her degree from a three-month online course.
Are M.D.’s good for anything?
The answer is yes. Conventional, establishment M.D.’s are good for some things and I still go to mine. You need an established relationship with an M.D. if you’re to have access to the conventional medical system when you need it. And believe me, eventually you will.
Medical doctors are great for shock-trauma treatment. If I were in a car accident or accidentally sliced a limb with a chain saw, I’d head for the emergency room like everyone else. Likewise, if I thought I was suffering from a heart attack. It’s a little late at that point to think about herbs and vitamins. You need something to get you through the next 24 hours with as little damage as possible.
Another factor is that more and more M.D.’s are becoming “integrative doctors” or “functional doctors” who practice natural and alternative medicine in addition to the Natural Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Medical Association (AMA) approved stuff.
In addition to being a medical doctor, such a doctor might be licensed to practice chiropractic, homeopathy, or any number of other disciplines – or perhaps has just gotten himself (or herself) up to speed on nutrition and the various branches of herbal medicine.
But to be honest, M.D.’s like that are still rare. Things are changing, but most M.D.’s still consider ALL alternative treatments quackery. If you’re dealing with chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease or cancer, their brand of shock-and-awe treatment won’t do you any fundamental good in most situations. At best, it’ll just suppress your symptoms. At worst, it’ll give you awful side effects that plague you the rest of your life while your disease sticks around.
Now that I’ve studied the matter, I know conventional medicine is worthless in most cases when it comes to late-stage cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s somewhat more successful with some early-stage cancers. When it comes to diabetes, they merely buy you time. When it comes to heart disease, they’ve had remarkable success, but the same (and better) can be achieved with alternatives at a fraction of the cost of conventional treatments.
I can tell you from personal experience that straight, unrepentant M.D.’s are nearly worthless in helping you with pain, digestive problems of any kind, allergies, skin diseases, or headaches. I had those problems when I was young and got no relief until I turned to alternative medicine.
The difference between M.D.’s and N.D.’s is something like this: Say you have a short circuit in your house. It starts a fire. An M.D. would show up, put the fire out, and tell you to call if it happens again. An N.D. would show up, put the fire out, and figure out what caused the fire in the first place, so it never happens again.
And the comparison is a little unfair to fire fighters. You can be pretty sure they’ll put out a fire, but a conventional M.D. often won’t help your chronic disease at all, from acne when you’re a kid to arthritis when you’re a senior. And if he does, it’s probably with a prescription drug that does your body untold harm while just masking the symptoms of your illness.
Naturopathic medicine is designed to support good health for the rest of your life, whether you’re facing cancer or something else. Incorporate a good N.D.’s advice into your healthy lifestyle, and you’ve got something that will last.