Welcome to the wonderful world of alternative medicine—specifically, naturopathic medicine! In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss what the practice of what naturopathy is. And more importantly, who is legally considered a naturopathic doctor in the state of California.
What is Naturopathy?
First, let’s define naturopathy! Naturopathy, which is also called naturopathic medicine, is a system of medicine that combines traditional natural therapies with modern treatments to optimize and restore one’s health.
Naturopathy is different from conventional medicine at traditional hospitals. While conventional medicine focuses on treating symptoms and health problems of a given area of the body, naturopathic medicine focuses on treating the whole person by getting to the root cause of an illness.
According to Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, naturopathy follows these principles:(1)
First Do No Harm
Core to all medical practice is the desire to help the human form and condition. NDs typically approach care by utilizing the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies. NDs will refer when the patient’s presentation is outside their scope or level of skill.
The Healing Power of Nature
NDs recognize the value of our natural world in assisting the healing process. They use substances that originate in nature, plus incorporate a healthy natural environment as foundational to human health. Naturopathic doctors recognize and harness the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself in order to guide patients to wellness and total health.
Identify and Treat the Causes
There is a time and place for symptom suppression, however most naturopathic patients will benefit from identifying the underlying causes of illness and removing obstacles to cure.
Doctor as Teacher
NDs helps patients have a better understanding of what it takes to be and stay well. Through education and a trust-based relationship, patients better understand the steps they need to take to achieve and maintain health.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic doctors understand the interconnectedness of our body, our environment and our lifestyle on total health. This whole-person-based approach is how NDs seek to restore balance and health.
Naturopathic medicine affirms that it is better to prevent illness and suffering whenever possible. Through their comprehensive practice, NDs combine all six principles in order to identify potential areas of imbalance and teach patients how to get well and stay well.
As you can see, naturopathy takes a strong preventative approach to health, and looks at the body’s functional systems as an integrated holistic system. This allows naturopathic doctors to find the causes to health issues in ways that conventional medicine often can’t because treatment is often structured by “specialization.” For example, one physician may specialize on cardiology; another may focus on podiatry.
Now that we have an understanding of naturopathy, let’s look at who can practice naturopathic doctor.
Who Can Be a Naturopathic Doctor in California?
Here is where it gets interesting! In California, many people can practice naturopathy and call themselves a naturopath—but only certain individuals can legally say they are a licensed naturopathic doctor.
Here’s why. According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges: (2)
“The titles “traditional naturopath” and “naturopathic doctor” (or “naturopathic physician”) are not interchangeable. A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND/NMD) is a primary care physician who is trained to diagnose and prescribe, while a traditional naturopath is not able to do either.”
Note: However, in some states where naturopathic medicine is not yet a regulated medical profession, a traditional naturopath may on his/her own, choose to use the title, “naturopathic doctor.” Fortunately, in California, the practice of naturopathy is regulated, so individuals can always ask if the naturopath they are seeing is a licensed naturopathic doctor.
How Naturopathic Doctors Are Licensed in CA
A naturopathic doctor in California is an individual who has been educated and trained in an accredited naturopathic medical college and has a doctor’s license from the Naturopathic Medicine Committee under the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA
And to reiterate, naturopathic doctors can diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process. They work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them. Their Therapeutic Order™, identifies the natural order in which all therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for damage. (3)
How Naturopathic Doctors Can Help You
Many times, individuals will often see a naturopath or naturopathic doctor as a last resort after going to conventional doctors and not getting the answers or help they need to restore their health.
Since naturopathy includes looking at one’s health from a preventative point of view, it would benefit many people to see a naturopathic doctor first.
At the minimum, seeing a naturopathic doctor would help people understand how the body’s different systems work together and support each other to ensure your health. At the most, people would benefit from some of the world’s oldest, naturally proven strategies to improving health while taking advantage of modern natural medicine as well.
Naturopathic therapies include: (4)
• Dietary and lifestyle changes.
• Stress reduction.
• Herbs and other dietary supplements.
• Manipulative therapies.
• Exercise therapy.
• Practitioner-guided detoxification.
• Psychotherapy and counseling.
Insights from San Jose Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Julie Tran-Olive
In the San Francisco South Bay Area, acclaimed licensed naturopathic doctor, Dr. Julie Tran-Olive, has helped countless individuals achieve better health and wellness at her leading practice, Silicon Valley Natural Health.
“It is true that many people see a naturopathic doctor as a last resort, but the good news is, when they do decide to come in, the naturopathic doctors that I know—myself included—have been able to prescribe a therapy or therapies that succeed in remedying a health issue or improving their health in general,” says Dr. Julie.
“For example, I’ve been able to suggest acupuncture to many patients, which has helped them resolve issues such as stress and anxiety. Other times, I may recommend herbal remedies from TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) that can help with everything from fertility issues to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). And yet other times, I may recommend a combination of therapies which go well beyond what I’m mentioning here.”
If you’re interested in learning how your health can benefit from naturopathic medicine, Dr. Julie Tran-Olive is currently accepting new patients at her clinic. When it comes to starting a new doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Julie’s kind, pleasant and positive demeanor, combined with her extensive knowledge of naturopathy, has won over many patients.
To make an appointment for a consultation, please call (408) 792-7229 email her at DrJulie@SVNaturalHealth.com today.|