A staggering one hundred thousand people a year die of reactions to prescription drugs. (1) That number does not include illegal or recreational drugs, and solely refers to pharmaceutical drugs that were legally and correctly prescribed, and taken as directed. In fact, the FDA reports that there are over 2 million serious adverse drug reactions yearly, making ADRs (adverse drug reactions) tied with stroke (2) as the fourth leading cause of death— ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDs, pneumonia, accidents and automobile deaths. (1)
In 2013, three professors—one of them from Harvard University, one from Harvard Medical School and one from York University—published a peer-reviewed paper on the myth of safe and effective drugs. This was their startling and disturbing conclusion:
Over the past 35 years, patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few offsetting benefits. The pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine through its influence over what drugs are developed, how they are tested, and how medical knowledge is created. Since 1906, heavy commercial influence has compromised Congressional legislation to protect the public from unsafe drugs. (3)
Because of disturbing statistics like these, there has been a tremendous consumer driven demand for an alternative, for medicine that is natural, non-toxic and non-invasive. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), 38% of adults—about 4 in 10—and 12% of children are seeking out and using some form of health care practices and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. (4)
Enter naturopathic doctors.
The main difference between the naturopathic doctor’s approach and that of conventionally trained doctors is that NDs are taught to use methods that build on the extraordinary ability of the body to heal itself. Today’s naturopathic doctor doesn’t turn to pharmaceutical drugs to suppress symptoms, but rather looks for ways to support the body’s natural healing by using astute clinical acumen and modalities such as nutritional modifications, lifestyle interventions, clinically studied botanical medicine, dose appropriate medical nutritional support, acupuncture and other non-toxic therapies.
A variety of practitioners—with a wide range of experience, training, certification, and general competence—practice under the umbrella of “natural medicine”, which has made it difficult and confusing for consumers. Licensed naturopathic doctors are graduates of four-year accredited naturopathic medical schools with admissions requirements comparable to other medical schools. They study the biomedical sciences—cardiology, neurology, radiology, obstetrics, gynecology, immunology, dermatology and pediatrics—- and are trained in clinical, laboratory and physical diagnosis. They also study clinical nutrition, botanicals, counseling, stress management, and physical medicine.
Naturopathic doctors are not necessarily “anti-pharmaceutical”– but they are cautious when it comes to using drugs, and will always attempt to use the least invasive methods to both diagnose and treat. One of the main reasons this website exists is to make it possible for people who are seeking an alternative to conventional medicine to find practitioners who have passed rigorous board exams in naturopathic medicine, and are licensed to practice naturopathic medicine in their state.