A naturopathic board is a group of professionals who uphold the standard of practice for naturopathic physicians. The board may be professional in nature or it may be affiliated with the government. Professional boards work to set educational, ethical, and examination standards for members of the profession, while a naturopathic board that is associated with a local or national government may issue licenses to naturopaths and, in some cases, have disciplinary authority over naturopaths who break the law, commit malpractice, or engage in a breach of ethics.
Naturopathic physicians, also known as naturopaths, are healthcare professionals who offer various types of natural, non-invasive healing modalities to their patients. These modalities include nutritional counseling, herbal therapy, and bodywork. In some areas, a naturopathic physician may have the legal right to diagnose illnesses or prescribe controlled drugs. In other areas, the scope of practice of a naturopath may be extremely limited, with the naturopath only being allowed to advice patients on various holistic therapies and having no authority to run diagnostic tests or prescribe treatment. Regardless of where the physician practices, he or she may operate under the authority of a naturopathic board.
In jurisdictions where naturopaths are licensed to practice, a naturopathic board is typically made up of naturopaths, conventional physicians, and in some cases members of the community who are not healthcare professionals. These licensing boards may establish regulations for naturopathic practice and may be authorized by law to accept, review, and approve or deny applications to practice naturopathy. In situations where there is some question about the conduct of a naturopath, he or she may be required to appear before the board for a hearing. Similarly, patients can also file complaints against practitioners with the naturopathic board, which can review the consumer’s complaint and take appropriate action, if necessary.
Country-wide boards of naturopathy may take on a strong advocacy role for naturopathic medicine. In some places, where the regulation of naturopathy does not take place on a national level, these country-wide boards may assume responsibility for the development of national standards and professional examinations. These boards may also operate accreditation commissions that set educational guidelines and accredit schools of naturopathic medicine as well as continuing education programs for naturopaths. The role of these boards can be particularly significant in areas where naturopathy is not regulated, as they can provide voluntary standards to the profession, protecting both practitioners and healthcare consumers alike.