The term naturopath is
used to describe a practitioner that uses natural methods to support the
healing process. This can
include any number of a wide range of therapies, but typically most
naturopaths work with diet/nutrition, nutritional supplementation,
detoxification, herbology, and homeopathy.
In addition, some have special training in bodywork, massage,
acupressure, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, and mind-body therapies
such as biofeedback, imagery and visualization.
In the treatment of
cancer, naturopaths in the US typically play an adjunctive role to an
oncologist, often providing individuals that are having surgery or
receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation with nutritional and immune system
The range of treatments a
naturopath can offer depends to a great degree on their education, the
state theyíre located in, and whether or not that state licenses
In terms of education,
there are generally two types of naturopathic professionals in the US Ė
naturopathic physicians and traditional naturopaths.
A naturopathic physician
is a practitioner that has graduated from an accredited naturopathic
universities are full-time four year medical schools whose curriculum
includes a substantial number of courses in western medical science, as well
as courses in naturopathic healing principles, botanical medicine,
nutrition, detoxification, homeopathy and mind-body medicine.
are also trained in using intra-venous drips (IVís) to provide
concentrated nutrition and have clinical training in treating a range of
illnesses, including cancer.
Naturopathic physicians are also trained to perform minor
surgeries, such as lancing a boil or stitching up a wound.
In states that license
naturopathic medicine (currently these are Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and
Washington.), naturopathic physicians are free to practice to the full
scope of their training. This
means that in addition to working with diet, nutrition, herbal medicine,
homeopathy, and detoxification programs, they can also diagnose and use
IVís to treat cancer patients. In
general, naturopathic physicians in these states can play more of a
primary role in the treatment of cancer.
In states that do not
license naturopathic medicine, naturopathic physicians cannot make a
medical diagnosis, cannot present themselves as doctors, and are
restricted from doing anything that punctures the skin.
This includes IVís. In
these states, naturopathic physicians typically offer nutritional and
immune system support via nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathy, diet
counseling, and detoxification programs, but because they cannot
administer IVís and because of legal restriction, they serve more of an
adjunctive role in the treatment of cancer.
This means that if you
are in a state in which naturopathic medicine is licensed, you are more
likely to find a naturopath in your area that provides primary care to
people with cancer. If you
are not in a state in which naturopathic medicine is licensed, you are
more likely to find a naturopath that provides adjunctive care to
conventional methods (chemotherapy, radiation, etc).
To find a naturopathic
physician in your area, you can do a search at www.naturopathic.org.
(This is the website for the AANP, American Association of
Naturopathic Physicians). Also,
if you have questions about a particular ND, we have information about
some naturopathic physicians on our website and in our database and may be
able to provide more specific information.
Not all naturopathic
physicians are members of the AANP (American Association of Naturopathic
Physicians), so itís possible that there are NDís in your area that
are not listed on their website. If
you donít find anyone listed for your area, talk with the nutrition
department attendants at your local health food store.
They are usually familiar with who is in the area.
A traditional naturopath
is a practitioner that has obtained their education through some
combination of: a mentorship program with another practitioner or
alternative clinic, a distance learning program, self-study, and/or local
private schools on holistic studies.
They donít have degrees from accredited schools, but often earn
certifications from professional naturopathic organizations and
non-accredited trade schools (e.g. nutrition, reflexology, herbology,
Because their education
and training is not standardized, their skill set and training varies
widely. Many traditional
naturopaths are excellent practitioners and have something to offer
individuals diagnosed with cancer, but they require greater awareness on
the part of the consumer to ask about their training and background.
If you ask good questions about training and background, and the
traditional naturopath is upfront about what they can offer you, this type
of professional may be of value to you in your healing process.
naturopaths are not legal in any state in the US Ė except Minnesota, in
which they can practice legally as long as they:
1) refrain from medical practices (such as surgery, prescribing
pharmaceutical drugs, etc) 2) follow ethical guidelines and, 3) provide
disclosure to the consumer about their training, background, and scope of
In practice, most states
do not challenge traditional naturopaths legally, unless they interfere
with the practice of medicine (e.g. prescribe a pharmaceutical drug or
take someone off a pharmaceutical drug), present themselves as a primary
care practitioner (e.g., in the place of an MD), misrepresent themselves
or their products, or make false claims about their ability to cure
practitioners will most likely be more difficult for you to find in your
area, since many of them like to keep a low profile and work only through
word-of-mouth referrals. Talk
to the nutrition department attendants at your local health food store or
natural pharmacy to get a referral.