The Difference Between a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor  and a Naturopathic Doctor

The Difference Between a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor and a Naturopathic Doctor

Sounds confusing, right? Well unfortunately due to the lack of regulation for Naturopathic Doctors (ND) in NY State; ANYONE can call themselves a Naturopathic Doctor (scary, right?)

So, let’s first talk about a licensed Naturopathic Doctor’s Education (that’s me :-))

 After receiving my bachelor’s degree in science (pre-med), I then attended a four-year, in-residence doctoral program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The CNME recognized by the US Dept of Education and is the only accrediting council in North America that qualify graduates for licensure. 

The only Naturopathic Medical Schools in the US accredited by the CNME are as follows:

  • Bastyr University-Washington

  • Bastyr University-California

  • National University of Natural Medicine-Oregon

  • National University of Health Sciences-Illinois

  • Southwest College of Natural Medicine-Arizona

  • University of Bridgeport, College of Natural Medicine-Connecticut

While at Natural University of Natural Medicine in Portland OR, my education included all the same basic sciences as an MD, but also studies in clinical nutrition, pharmacology, homeopathy, botanical medicine, radiology, physical medicine, and lifestyle counseling. 

After graduation to become licensed, I had to pass a two-part national board exam (National Physicians Licensing Exam) which consisted of biomedical sciences and clinical medicine portions.  My current license is in Oregon due to NY lack of regulations. I chose not to do a post-doctoral residence because there weren’t many to chose from back in 2005. Today, there are many more opportunities and many licensed ND students do go to complete post-doctoral residencies all across North America. 

The Education of a non-Licensed Naturopathic Doctor 

    • Certificates/Degrees are obtained online.

    • Education is NOT accredited by the US Dept. of Education.

    • Programs lengths are only a few months or up to a year.

    • They are not taught the same medical sciences as MD’s.

    • Their faculty are not required to have medical degrees.

In addition, non-licensed Naturopathic Doctors are not required (or even allowed) to take national board exams to obtain licensure. For that reason these ND’s choose to practice in unregulated states like NY where they can call themselves doctors (crazy I know!) and can place letters ND behind their name without even having a true accredited education. 

Practicing in NY State with an education like mine can be a struggle due to its limitations. Especially when other colleagues in the medical field are considering us as quacks! This is likely due to the non regulation of this medicine in NY State. Be aware of other practitioners in NY that call themselves Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine, make sure you see their credentials before committing to their service. 

It’s only a matter of time that NY will become regulated. More and more people are seeking out alternative medicine for complementary support to their health care concerns. It’s very important to have licensed professionals in the field of natural medicine become part of the American medical model. Without regulation, there is a great risk that patients will do harm by taking supplements that interact with their medication or aggravate their current medical condition. Remember, just because it’s a “natural” substance doesn’t mean that it can’t do harm. Don’t be fooled. 

Don't over boost your immune system with Echinacea!

Don't over boost your immune system with Echinacea!

As cold and flu season is among us, many of us stock up on our favorite immune boosting herb, Echinacea. However, many people don’t realize that boosting the immune system too much may cause trouble, especially for anyone with an already diagnosed autoimmune disease.

How does Echinacea work?

The active constituents of Echinacea stimulate the immune response by interacting with various cells of the immune system. Macrophages, natural killer cells, and neutrophils have all been shown to be activated with the use of Echinacea.

So what’s the problem?

Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the immune system is overstimulated and begins attacking itself. For many autoimmune diseases, medications are used to suppress the immune cells that Echinacea has been shown to stimulate. Yikes!

Case Study

A 55-year-old male who was diagnosed as having pemphigus vulgaris, an autoimmune disorder that involves blistering and erosion of the skin and mucous membranes. His disease was gradually controlled with an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant medication. The patient achieved complete clearance of lesions and continued to be clear of lesions 1 year after the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant medications were discontinued.

1.5 years into his remission, he developed an upper respiratory tract infection and began taking an Echinacea supplement daily. He had never before taken an herbal supplement. He developed blisters on his trunk, head, and oral mucosa within 1 week of starting the supplement. He had not had oral mucosal lesions since onset of the disease. After discontinuing the use of the Echinacea supplement, partial disease control, but never complete remission, was achieved with the use of the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant medications again.

What else can I do when I am sick?

Clinically, I am very cautious with using herbal supplements with already diagnosed autoimmune patients or those patients that have a strong family history of autoimmune diseases. There are many lifestyle things to do instead like, watching your diet and avoiding certain inflammatory foods at the first sign of illness. As well as, using vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D, C, and zinc to help the immune system during its battle against cold and flu invaders.

Just because its “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe! Supplements are sold over the counter with no regulations. This makes them appear to all be safe and to take regardless of your health conditions and the medications you are taking. Seeking out a Naturopathic Doctor who has been medically trained with the expert knowledge in the use of herbs and vitamin supplements for diseases and interactions with medications you are currently taking is recommended.


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Hair loss is a complaint that often comes up during my consultations with women. Here are the top 5 reasons I find as causes to hair loss in women.