Natural medicine is an integrated system of health care practitioners.
The field of natural medicine is made up of different areas of study, much like the field of traditional medicine. As with any area of study, the more advanced or knowledgeable a person is the higher their assigned designation. Naturopathic doctors and doctors of natural medicine may work in the same field, however their levels of knowledge can vary considerably.
Doctor of Natural Medicine
Natural medicine, naturopathy and integrated medicine are all labels for the same line of practice. Natural medicine is an integrated system of health care that uses natural methods and materials to diagnose, treat and prevent sickness and disease. A doctor of natural medicine holds the equivalent of a PhD in college credit hours that includes clinical-based training and research. Individuals within this area can diagnose and treat ailments, however only natural compounds can be administered as treatments. This field of practitioners has met exam requirements set by the World Organization of Natural Medicine Practitioners. Individuals who pursue this line of study can work in a number of specialties, some of which include homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractology and holistic medicine.
Naturopathic doctors are also natural health care practitioners, however their level of study is much more involved. As with conventional doctors of medicine, naturopathic doctors undergo a four year graduate level curriculum at aa naturopathic medical school. An additional four years of training in clinical nutrition, botanical and homeopathic medicine and hydrotherapy are also required. Naturopathic doctors are licensed to perform routine medical exams, and minor, in-office surgeries. Practitioners can also make referrals to medical specialists, as well as refer patients for testing procedures. Individuals in this field may also register with the World Organization of Natural Medicine Practitioners.
The difference in qualifications between doctors of natural medicine and naturopathic doctors has to do with licensing requirements. Naturopathic doctors are recognized as licensed professionals who carry medical authorizations that the other group doesn’t hold. Licensing requirements for naturopathic doctors may vary depending on country, region and/or state regulations. Area regulatory boards set the licensing requirements for examinations and educational background. The World Organization of Natural Medicine Practitioners requires all practitioners within the field to pass a standard examination in order to be registered with the organization.
It’s not uncommon for someone to confuse the roles held by a naturopathic doctor versus a doctor of natural medicine. Part of this confusion may stem from the lack of regulations surrounding the doctor of natural medicine designation. Regulatory boards, or agencies assign a certain degree of recognition to particular levels of education and skill. Regulations are put in place to protect the consumer, and guarantee a certain level of standards and expertise. As of yet, there is no official regulating agency assigned to the doctor of natural medicine degree. As naturopathic doctors are licensed under a regulatory agency, services provided by them may be covered by a standard health insurance policy.
Because of the extensive training required, naturopathic doctors can use the initials ND after their name to identify the type of degree held. The ND is a reference to the title held, however designations refer more to the level of expertise involved. Doctors of natural medicine are assigned the title of DNM, however their designation falls under Level I classification under the World Organization of Natural Medicine Practitioners. Naturopathic doctors are classified under a Level II designation which distinguishes them as licensed practitioners.