I’m writing today to tell about another great stride for Naturopathic Medicine licensure in the United States, not just Florida.
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate made Oct. 7-13 Naturopathic Medicine Week. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn the benefits of Naturopathic medicine and how it integrates with and provides alternatives to the conventional medical model in this country.
First, as a disclosure, I am one of only five people in Florida with both a four-year Naturopathic medical degree and an acupuncture physician’s license, so I have a vested interest in promoting and growing Naturopathic medicine in Florida.
I keep my license as a Naturopathic physician in Vermont while trying to regain licensure for Naturopathic medicine in Florida. I am also very proud and happy this awareness is happening at this time as September 2013 marked my 10th year in practice here in Clermont.
Naturopathic medicine began in 1903 when Dr. Benedict Lust created the first Naturopathic medical school. He was an over-achiever, MD, DO, chiropractor and the first Naturopathic doctor. (The titles ND and NMD, Naturopathic Medical Doctor, are used by practitioners in the U.S.)
He did not like what the pharmaceutical companies and the AMA were doing to the practice of medicine in this country. (Does that sound familiar?) He combined his conventional medical training with the herbalist and “Nature Cure” philosophies of the U.S. and Europe creating a truly integrative medical system.
Naturopathic licensure was granted in quite a few states in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Florida granted licensure in 1926 when Naturopathic physicians were given full rights to practice including prescribing pharmaceuticals and performing minor surgery along with the completed natural remedies and practices. Currently there are 19 states and territories in the U.S. that license NDs.
To be a licensed ND, you must graduate from a four-year Naturopathic medical school which is 5,000 hours just like a conventional medical school and has the equivalent educational requirements to conventional medical schools including all the basic sciences, pathology, minor surgery, and pharmacology along with extensive education in nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, mind-body medicine and counseling.
After graduation, one must pass three days of Naturopathic medical board exams before licensure is granted. There are five, four-year Naturopathic medical schools in the U.S. and two in Canada, but there are also a lot of correspondence Naturopathic schools that do not provide even close to the training that a four-year graduate is given.
Those schools spend lots of money to lobby against ND licensure since they would lose a customer base if states become licensed as their graduates would not be allowed to be licensed. Unfortunately in 1959 the Florida legislature shut down the Board of Naturopathic Examiners which issued licenses for NDs meaning no new licenses have been given in Florida since.
What sets an ND apart from other practitioners is the philosophy. We practice by six tenets: Do No Harm, the Healing Power of Nature, Treat the Whole Person, Find and Treat the Cause, Doctor as Teacher and Prevention is the Best Medicine. (A more detailed description of these and other things about Naturopathic Philosophy are available on my website.)
These tenets allow us to use whatever is best for the patient, be it recommending an herbal formula or recommending surgery. It is not the pharmaceutical or the surgery that is necessarily bad but whether it is used unnecessarily or improperly.
Many “holistic” practitioners are actually treating “conventionally” by giving herbs or supplements just like a drug. Even though something is “natural” it can still be suppressive and may not be treating the root cause. Being on 20 supplements instead of 20 drugs is not necessarily any better for the person. The bottom line is to get the body working so it doesn’t need anything to make it work properly.
There is a growing awareness and desire for Naturopathic medicine since many people are disillusioned and dissatisfied by the poor treatment both clinically and personally they are receiving from those in the conventional medical system and the system itself.
The demand for Naturopathic Medicine has brought it to the national levels it is currently enjoying. My colleagues are being seen, heard, or read about on Dr. Oz, The Katie Couric show, The Doctors, PBS NPR, as well as local TV shows, radio shows, and in newspapers and magazines. (If you know Dr. Oz or one of the others please let them know I’m available).
The U.S. Senate, making Oct. 7-13 Naturopathic Medicine Week, is another manifestation of the awareness that people want a safe, effective alternative to the expensive, poor treatment that our country’s medical system is providing.
For information regarding Naturopathic medicine, go to www.docvisconti.com. There are also links there to state and national information resources. Feel free to contact me if you have questions that the websites don’t answer for you. Thanks for making my 10 years in practice in Clermont great ones.