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Botanically Speaking

What is an ND, Naturopath or Doctor of Naturopathy?

How to use medicinal herbsHi, and welcome to Blanco Botanicals.  My name is Maria Blanco, and I am a practicing Certified Family Herbalist and a Naturopath.

Most people know that Herbalists use herbs (botanicals) to gently and naturally aid the body in its various healing, cleansing and building (growth and regeneration) processes. But, it seems like most people I meet are not really sure of what an ND, or Naturopathic Doctor is. So, I offer the following to clear things up a little:

Naturopaths like me, are practitioners of a philosophy of living which promotes health through the body's ability to naturally achieve and maintain homeostasis. Naturopaths believe in healing by strengthening the body rather than curing specific diseases. An individual naturopath may emphasize the use of hydrotherapy, nutrition, manipulation (chiropractic), herbs, homeopathy or massage--but each one has the same goal of stimulating the body's innate ability to heal. Vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature, is naturopathy's central tenet.

For example, Louis Pasteur, who discovered that most infectious diseases are caused by germs, proposed The Germ Theory of Disease and invented pasteurization, said in his later years,  "I have been wrong. The germ is nothing. The terrain is everything." 

What he meant by this is that if the body (the terrain) is in balance it will not be affected and overcome by pathogenic germs. Where the body's defenses are in place, germs cannot invade and overwhelm. Doctors of Naturopathy work to help people maintain that critical balance, while Medical (allopathic) Doctors are more concerned with killing pathogens in order to reduce and alleviate symptoms of a disease state.

Today's NDs hold advanced degrees; having completed a rigorous program of study, usually entitled "Doctor of Naturopathy" in traditional  naturopathy. Most of these professionals practice as consultants. They are doctors in the most traditional sense of the word: Docere (dōˑ·se·rā) is the Latin term from which doctor is derived -- it means Teacher. Naturopathic Doctors educate clients, conduct research, and they write. NDs do not diagnose, treat, cure, prescribe or perform invasive procedures and they do not refer to themselves as physicians.

There is, however, another group of naturopathic professionals who also use the initials  ND after their names. These practitioners refer to themselves as Naturopathic Physicians. They have been schooled in both naturopathic and allopathic medicine, and they practice according to regulations (much as medical doctors, MD's, do) which vary from state to state. At present, very few states license naturopathic physicians.



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