Finding Dr. Right

Finding Dr. Right

Naturopathy State-licensed naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) attend a four-year accredited naturopathic medical school and are trained to be primary-care physicians who emphasize gentle, natural therapies that facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain good health. They are different from integrative M.D.s in that they are trained to identify the root cause of an illness and treat it with natural interventions; conventional therapies are generally used as a last resort. N.D.s may use homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, detoxification, and nutrition and lifestyle modifications. They are also trained to perform minor surgery and prescribe medications; however, their scope of practice in these two areas varies from state to state. Learn more: naturopathic.org

Osteopathy Osteopathic doctors (D.O.s) are fully licensed physicians who, like M.D.s, complete four years of basic medical education, followed by internships, residencies and, sometimes, fellowships. Also like M.D.s, they practice family medicine or specialize in a certain area, such as pediatrics or endocrinology, and can prescribe drugs and perform surgery. They combine conventional and complementary methods the way integrative M.D.s do but have additional and unique training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which involves using their hands to prevent, diagnose and treat illness or injury. This “healing touch” has the potential to relieve pain, joint restriction and misalignment, and to improve certain medical conditions, such as migraine headache and sinus discomfort. Learn more: osteopathic.org

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Acupuncture and herbal medicine are the primary techniques used by TCM practitioners; in some states, they must have a licensed acupuncturist certification (L.Ac.). The goal of acupuncture is to alleviate illness by balancing the body’s vital energy (qi, pronounced “chee”), which flows through meridians, or pathways, that run down the body. Placing needles along these meridians releases blocked qi, which triggers the body to release pain-killing endorphins, increases circulation and stimulates the nervous system, enabling healing signals to be relayed faster. TCM practitioners frequently use additional therapies, including cupping (a “reverse” massage using suction) and massage; plus they often make diet, exercise and other lifestyle recommendations. Learn more: aaaomonline.org