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Naturopathy is a healing modality that relies on various natural or holistic treatment methods to care for patients and keep them healthy. Naturopathic treatments vary by the philosophy of each naturopathic physician, but may include various types of body work, spinal manipulation, and nutritional therapies, as well as nutritional counseling, aromatherapy, and herbal medicine. Some naturopaths are also trained in homeopathy and acupuncture. Depending on the licensing requirements in the area where a naturopath practices, he or she might also practice conventional medical techniques.
Naturopaths advocate treating the whole person, including a person's psychological and spiritual well-being. Naturopathic treatments take into consideration a person's needs beyond physical treatment and may include teaching stress-reducing techniques such as yoga and meditation. Naturopaths also work to educate their patients in making healthy lifestyle choices, including eating right, getting enough sleep, and engaging in exercise. Body work is another significant area of naturopathic practice, with many naturopaths being trained in both spinal manipulation and massage, as well as more specialized work such as cranial-sacral therapy.
Probably one of the best known naturopathic treatments is the prescribing or recommending of herbal medicines and nutritional supplements. Also known as botanical medicine, herbalism can be a significant part of a naturopath's practice. Herbal remedies, either as single herbs or in combination with each other, are recommended to address specific symptoms. The same is true for nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Many naturopaths sell herbal and nutritional supplements as a part of their practice.
Some naturopaths also practice acupuncture and homeopathy, although these are not always standard naturopathic treatments, as they are both specialized disciplines in their own right. In the United States, for example, a naturopathic doctor might have to obtain additional licensing as an acupuncturist or oriental medicine specialist before practicing acupuncture on patients. Naturopathic physicians may also be trained to attend women in natural childbirth, though they generally need to obtain additional certification to do this.
In some places, naturopathic doctors are authorized to prescribe and order both standard medical and naturopathic treatments. These naturopaths often treat their patients with a combination of conventional and alternative methods. In several states and provinces in the United States and Canada, naturopathic physicians are licensed to order medical tests and x-rays, prescribe some drugs, and even perform minor surgery.