Naturopathic medicine, an American healthcare profession, is about 100 years old. There are more than 1,500 licensed naturopathic physicians in the United States and five accredited naturopathic medical schools that have active research departments.
Though diagnostically naturopathy is a lot like standard/conventional medicine, the difference lies in the types of treatment. Naturopathic physicians do not use drugs, medical technology, or major surgery to treat a patient. Instead, these physicians use natural therapeutics - such as nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathy, and acupuncture as treatments.
Naturopathy's main goal is to use the natural healing power of the body to fight disease. Diagnosis is made through x-rays, laboratory tests, and medical exams, much like the standard/conventional diagnostic methods. Almost any illness is treated by naturopathic physicians.
Naturopathic therapies may include:
- use of botanical medicine
- changes to nutrition
- oriental medicine
- hydrotherapy (use of water as a medical treatment)
- manipulative therapy
Often, however, naturopathic physicians will refer more complicated medical cases to standard/conventional physicians for treatment.