Northwest Center for Optimal Health: Natural Medicine Specialists





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Naturopathic Medicine by Kasra Pournadeali, ND

Greetings Journal Reader. Ever wondered if Alternative Medicine could help your condition, but didn’t know who to ask? Have you thought about seeing an Alternative Medicine Provider, but weren’t sure which type to see. In my next few articles, I’ll be answering questions on the different types of Alternative Medicine. This month’s Ask Dr. P, addresses your questions on Naturopathic Medicine. Enjoy!

Q: Dr. P, what is Naturopathic Physician?

A Naturopathic Physician is a primary care doctor who treats & prevents disease by stimulating the natural processes in the human body. Along with MDs, and DO, NDs are trained and licensed to diagnose medical conditions, and provide appropriate care. Unlike other doctors however, NDs have a different treatment philosophy: Instead of controlling disease symptoms with medicines, we like to find and remove “obstacles to cure,” stimulating your body’s inherent healing ability. Furthermore, Naturopathic therapies are directed to not only treat your disease, but also create the best health possible for you.

Q: Dr. P, what therapies does a Naturopathic Physician use?

Therapies used by Naturopathic Physicians can include: botanical (herbal) medicine, therapeutic nutrition (or “megavitamin” therapy), physical medicine (including spinal manipulation), homeopathy, hydrotherapy, oriental medicine, counseling, diet and lifestyle modification, exercise therapy, natural childbirth, minor surgery, and drug therapy.

Q: Dr P, what is the education of a Naturopathic Physician?

To practice (in Washington State ), a person must complete a 4-5 year intensive, postgraduate, didactic program at an accredited naturopathic college. Entrance is highly competitive; and, an undergraduate degree, and all premedical courses are required. Once accepted in a program, the naturopathic student must complete all basic sciences courses including anatomy, pathology, physiology, biochemistry, etc., as well as clinical & diagnosis courses (physical exam, laboratory medicine, radiology, cardiology, etc.) Finally, naturopathic therapies are emphasized to assure that the graduate has expertise in natural approaches in addition to standard drug therapy. Throughout the program, students train in clinical settings, managing patients under supervision of licensed naturopathic physicians.

Q: Dr. P, my MD practices naturopathic medicine, is the philosophy now included in medical schools?

No. Unless your MD has completed an accredited 4-5 year naturopathic program, and passed licensure exams to practice naturopathic medicine, he or she is not recognized as an expert in natural medicine by the Washington State Department of Health. Many doctors say they practice naturopathic medicine, as it is gaining popularity, and there is financial incentive to do so.

Q: Dr. P, why should I see a Naturopathic Doctor, when others tell me about vitamins & herbs?

Two reasons: One, Naturopathic Doctors are the only physicians who are board-certified specialists in Natural Medicine; and two, taking advice about nutrition, herbs, or medical conditions from someone not properly trained can be unsafe. The latter is why many MDs are fearful about their patients using natural medicine. Laypersons giving advice aren’t aware of interactions between vitamins/ herbs/ and drugs, know which therapies are scientifically documented, or how to diagnose & treat medical conditions. Because of this, recommendations from laypersons can be harmful. Always see an ND if you want physician advice on natural medicine or therapies.

Q: Dr. P, do I have to stop seeing my MD if I see an ND?

Our policy is to encourage patients to choose a good primary care doctor: ND, MD, or DO, and use other providers as specialists as needed. This way patients can benefit from a team approach, because no one person or provider can provide everything you might need.

Q: Dr. P, where can I find more information on naturopathic medicine?

I encourage you to visit the websites of the Washington & American Association of Naturopathic physicians: & You can always contact me by email as well. Have a great month!

updated 12/05

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360) 651-9355.

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