In development for more than three years, the naturopathic profession has launched a white paper that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice. This white paper, “Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists, The Future is Whole Person Health Care,” was officially published on Oct. 22, 2021—International Natural Medicine Day—by the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).
The INM and the American Association for Naturopathic Medicine (AANP) together spearheaded the creation of the white paper, a first of its kind for the profession. Numerous organizations were included in the process and had influence on its direction and outcome including specialty societies, post graduate educational organizations and academic institutions.
Getting agreement across different organizations in the profession on how to depict naturopathic medical practice was the goal at the outset and it was achieved. There is agreement on the general tenents, principles, practices and the core of naturopathic medical practice as well as the value proposition of the profession. Individual doctors in the profession may practice differently from one another, but the core philosophy, the treatment approach of a Therapeutic Order remains consistent. It is specifically these elements that distinguish the practice of naturopathic medicine.
As the public seeks more from their health care providers today than ever before, it is essential to bring naturopathic physicians into primary and specialty care models for the most effective team-based care.
This white paper outlines the guiding principles of naturopathic medicine and shows why it is a comprehensive approach to whole-person care by:
1. Focusing on addressing underlying causes of acute and chronic disease
2. Dedicating fundamental practices to health promotion, minimally invasive therapies and reducing health care costs
3. Engaging with patients to support healthy lifestyle and behavioral changes.
This document serves to:
• Inform readers about the naturopathic medical profession in order to strengthen the U.S. health care workforce by delineating the unique clinical practice of naturopathic physicians, and their contribution to both individual patient and population health.
• Demonstrate the clinical efficacy of naturopathic theory and practice, as evidenced in contemporary clinical research, particularly when addressing chronic disease.
• Illustrate robust models of interprofessional collaboration, and integrative practice between naturopathic physicians and other licensed health care providers.
• Advocate for further inclusion of naturopathic physicians within the current health care workforce, including the clinical, educational, research and public health sectors.
Numerous graphical representations are depicted in the beautifully designed document that describe the naturopathic treatment approach. For example, a case presentation is included on conventional vs. naturopathic approaches for gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is a good example of where a combination approach to the patient could be beneficial. The rapidly growing body of research evidence on and by the profession is also included. On the landing page is a growing list of integrative medicine experts weighing in on the value of this white paper and the profession in general.
In a short statement from Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director, Integrative Health Programs, Samueli Foundation said, “This is a beautiful paper, both in design and content on this important and emerging profession. Get it and read it if you want to know more about natural medicine.”
Together with the white paper, the newly created MD/DO Naturopathic Advisory Board1 is now armed with a very useful tool to help educate academic institutions, research centers, integrative medicine clinics, regulatory bodies and others on the importance with the current and future emphasis on whole-person health. A natural approach inclusive of appropriate lifestyle counseling, prevention, wellness and well-being is an important aspect of health care. The education and clinical approach of the naturopathic doctor is perfectly suited to deliver this form of comprehensive care. The Board is comprised of medical doctors who appreciate these unique talents and will advise NDs as to how best to share their talents and experience with other health care practitioners. Inaugural members of the board are Dave Johnson, MD, FACP; Lara Williams, MD, FACOB; Sanford Levy, MD; Lev Linkner, MD; Megan DeBell, MD and the board is chaired by Len Wisneski, MD, FACP.
The naturopathic profession stands ready to provide training for its model of care to collaborate with other health care professionals and to share its knowledge, while working toward the collective goal of enhancing whole health care for an increasingly receptive public. To access the paper, visit www.naturemedpro.org/discover-naturopathic-physicians-whole-health-specialists-in-whole-person-care or email me to find out how you can receive a hard copy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1992, the leadership core of naturopathic doctors established the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM) as a not for profit organization dedicated to advancing natural medicine. The purpose of the INM is to increase awareness of, broaden public access to, and encourage research about natural medicine and therapies. Among its milestones the INM counts the launch of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) as an independent organization, leading California’s efforts to obtain licensure, developing an interactive childhood education program focused on healthy eating and lifestyles called Naturally Well in 2017, and expanding residency access by establishing and funding a residency program in 2018. INM has joined forces with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), serving as the charitable arm, to deepen access to naturopathic care, public education and research. Dr. Michelle Simon serves as president and CEO of INM, is a licensed naturopathic physician, clinician, educator, and leader in many organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of health care. In addition to holding a naturopathic doctorate from Bastyr University, she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Simon has served on the boards for the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), the AANP and the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI). Dr. Simon also served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee which is part of the Health Technology Assessment program that examines the scientific evidentiary basis for efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of health care technologies. She was also an invited participant for health care economics at “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public” at the Institute for Medicine (IOM) in 2009. Dr. Simon was recognized as the 2018 Physician of the Year by the AANP.