Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

The School of Naturopathic Medicine offers a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Herbal Sciences and a Certificate in Holistic Landscape Design. The departments in the School of Naturopathic Medicine include botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, clinical sciences, clinical education, and community and post-graduate medicine.

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct profession of primary health care, emphasizing prevention, treatment and the promotion of optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and modalities that encourage the self-healing process, the vis medicatrix naturae.


We educate future naturopathic physicians who care for the health and well-being of their communities and advance our profession.


The School of Naturopathic Medicine will be a leading academic center for inspired and scholarly learning in the cultivation of naturopathic doctors. It will accomplish this through education, research, professional leadership, and community and clinical services that bridge the worlds of science, nature and spirit.

Definition and Description of Naturopathic Medicine

The U.S. Department of Labor defines naturopathic physicians as doctors who "diagnose, treat and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies."

Most naturopathic physicians provide natural medicine primary care through office-based, private practice. Many receive additional training in disciplines or modalities such as acupuncture and East Asian medicine.

Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality. Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing physicians. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic physicians.

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

The underpinnings of naturopathic medical practice are embodied in six principles:

  1. First Do No Harm – primum non nocere
  2. The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae
  3. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam
  4. Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum
  5. The Physician Is a Teacher – docere
  6. Prevention Is the Best “Cure” – praevenire

Scope of Practice

Naturopathic medicine is defined by principles, rather than by methods or modalities. Diagnostic and therapeutic methods are diverse. The current scope of practice for a naturopathic physician varies by jurisdiction. However, the accredited naturopathic programs all train primary care physicians who diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic medical conditions and diagnoses. This may include, but is not limited to: nutritional science, natural hygiene, botanical medicine, naturopathic physical medicine, homeopathy, counseling, spirituality, minor office procedures, and methods of laboratory and clinical diagnosis. The scope of practice is defined by state or provincial statute. The curriculum at Bastyr University matches the requirements listed by the Washington State Department of Health. Students have the responsibility to become informed on licensure and scope of practice in the legal jurisdiction in which they choose to practice.

Legal Status of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic physicians are licensed or registered as health care providers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Legal provisions allow the practice of naturopathic medicine in several other states. Efforts to gain licensure elsewhere are currently underway. Forty-two states and territories in the United States have professional associations for naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is regulated in the following Canadian provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The Naturopathic Doctors Act of 2008 grants title protection for naturopathic doctors in Nova Scotia. There are 11 provincial and territorial professional associations.

Naturopathic Medicine Licensure Requirements

All states and provinces with naturopathic medicine licensure laws require completion of a residential program of at least four years and 4,100 hours of study from a college or university recognized by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). Bastyr University's doctoral program in naturopathic medicine is accredited by CNME, and a copy of the CNME Handbook of Accreditation is available in the Bastyr Library and online at

To qualify for a license, applicants must satisfactorily pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), which include basic sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects, and clinical sciences. Applicants must also satisfy all licensing requirements for the state or province in which they wish to practice. Students are responsible for contacting the department of health or other governing agency for information regarding requirements for the state in which they are seeking licensure.

Professional Organizations

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, based in Washington, D.C., represents the interests of the profession of naturopathic medicine in the U.S. The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors is the professional association in Canada. Contact the appropriate national association for further information.

  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 4435 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 403, Washington, D.C., 20016,, (202) 237-8150
  • Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, 20 Holly St., Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4S 3B1,, (416) 496-8633