Four common questions about Naturopathic medicine – answered


In Portland, we are fortunate to have a lot of choice when it come to our healthcare.

We are surrounded by a great variety of highly trained healthcare practitioners. StPortland, Oregon Waterfrontill, many Portlanders have never visited a naturopathic physician and may not really understand what naturopathic medicine can offer them.

Q: What kind of professional education do naturopaths have?

“A licensed naturopathic physician (ND) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD, but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician also studies clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling.

A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician.”

-From the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Q: So are naturopaths (NDs) basically the same as MDs except they substitute natural therapies for drugs?

No. While we are part of the same Western tradition of medicine founded on Western scientific understanding and research, naturopathic medicine has a philosophy that is unique. The six principles of naturopathic philosophy strongly guide how we practice.

  1. We recognize the healing power of nature, including the body’s natural ability to heal. 

    We witness this small miracle every time a small cut on our skin closes or we recover from a cold. Natural substances and activities are uniquely suited to work with the body’s healing ability. Nutrition, exercise, rest, and social connection are foundational to maintaining and restoring health, and herbal medicine and therapeutic body work are perfectly suited to gently and effectively bring the body back into balance.

  2. Naturopaths treat the cause.

    Thorough investigation allows us to hone in the causes of disease, so that we can address the root of the problem, rather than simply suppress symptoms.

  3. Naturopathic medicine favors less invasive, non-toxic remedies.

    We strive to use the simplest, and gentlest methods to address any complaint.

  4. We treat the whole person.

    One of the most wonderful things about seeing a naturopath is that we take the time to listen and to fully hear your story. We review your entire health history and all of your concerns. Getting the full picture of each patient allows us to develop a more sophisticated understanding of each person’s case and to design the most appropriate treatment. And it makes our job a joy!

  5. We educate.

    We strive to make medical understanding more accessible to patients. We take the time fully explain our assessment and treatments. We collaborate with patients to co-create solutions to treat and prevent disease.

  6. We are committed to disease prevention.

    ‘Nuf said.

Q: What kinds of conditions do naturopaths treat?

All kinds!

Many people come in interested in disease prevention and optimizing overall wellness. This is an area where naturopaths are enthusiastic and well-trained to help!

We excel at treatment of simple and acute conditions like colds, flus, cough, ear and sinus infections, bladder infections, yeast infections, etc. We use proven natural treatments that optimize the immune system, fight infection, and effectively ease symptoms. We can often help you to feel better quickly, without the use of antibiotics. And if an antibiotic is called for, we will prescribe it for you.

We help with common conditions like depression and anxiety, fatigue, thryroid problems, headaches, joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal and skin problems, and allergies.

Naturopaths are experts in women’s health, providing gentle and effective treatments for menstrual problems, infertility, common problems during pregnancy, and menopause.

Children respond beautifully to naturopathic medicine! Our treatments are helpful for common children’s complains, while being less invasive and safer.

Where we really shine is in the treatment of complex and chronic conditions.

It’s common for patients to come to see us after no other doctor has been able to help. Because we are trained to treat the whole person, considering the interaction of all the body systems together, to find and treat the cause of the disease, and also because we have a vast array of therapeutic tools in our took-kit, commonly, naturopaths can help where conventional medicine has failed.

Q: What should I expect from my visit with a naturopathic doctor?

Your first visit will be long- up to 2 hours! This allows us to really get to know you and review your entire case. There will likely be a physical exam, lab tests or imaging may be ordered. We will likely request records from your other physician(s). We will come up with a treatment plan with you, making sure that it’s something that will work for you. That may include lifestyle recommendations around diet, exercise, sleep or other activities, the prescription of dietary supplements, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, or pharmaceuticals.

Some prescriptions can be made specifically for you, either formulated in our clinic medicinary or a local compounding pharmacy. Body work techniques such as massage or adjustments may be used, as needed. Referrals and coordination of care with other practitioners will always be done as needed. We will make a plan for following up with you and be available between visits to address questions and concerns.

We really look forward to meeting you and to partnering with you in your journey to optimal health! Have any additional questions? Contact me! Otherwise, use the link below to get started by scheduling an appointment.

Written by Ann Holland

I’m a general practitioner experienced in treating all types people for all types of conditions. I’m trained as a naturopath, an acupuncturist, an herbalist, and a yoga teacher, which gives me a lot of tools in my toolbox! My favorite healing modality is love. I have seen how cultivating a caring and compassionate relationship with patients is the very best medicine.