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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

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B12 LOVE was founded by licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Midwife, Dr. Shannon Wood Gallegos, ND, who began her medical practice in the early 2000s. Like the hundreds of thousands of Naturopathic doctors and healers that have come before her, Dr. Shannon (and the incredible team of NDs at B12 LOVE), share much of the same training, treatment modalities, and scopes of practice as conventional medical doctors (MDs). However, there are some distinct ways in which Naturopathic providers differ from other medical practitioners in their approach to health and healing.

We believe it’s important to define and distinguish these differences for our clients, while also emphasizing that multiple approaches to health and wellness are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can and often do overlap – even within the same medical practice! 

So, what is Naturopathic Medicine? Why go to a Naturopathic doctor?

Training and Education

First, Naturopathic doctors are real doctors. They are trained as Primary Care and Functional Medicine providers. Naturopathic doctors are graduates of four-year, accredited Naturopathic medical schools with admissions requirements comparable to all other other medical schools. Like conventional medical students, they study the core biomedical sciences – anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry – as well as cardiology, neurology, radiology, obstetrics, gynecology, immunology, dermatology, and pediatrics. They are also trained in clinical, laboratory, and physical diagnosis. 

One of the core differences in education between conventional medical school and Naturopathic medical school is in the therapeutics that are taught. In addition to pharmacology and minor surgery, NDs study clinical nutrition, botanical medicines, homeopathy, counseling, stress management, and physical medicine.

NDs are Board certified and licensed by the state in which they practice (the Board is a state regulated organization). They must pass rigorous national exams in order to achieve this status. They are also tested on and given prescriptive privileges, depending on the laws of the state in which they practice. 

It is worth noting that the term “Naturopath” has occasionally been used by providers who are not actually Licensed Naturopathic doctors. While they may be “certified” via a naturopathic educational entity, that does not necessarily mean that they are state licensed. This is a very important distinction and one that patients should be aware of before undergoing treatment with a particular ND. All of the NDs on staff at B12 LOVE are Board Certified and Licensed by the State of California

Utilizing The Power Of The Human Body To Protect And Heal Itself

Naturopathic doctors are not necessarily “anti-pharmaceutical” and they are certainly not anti-science. They are highly trained Functional Medicine doctors that use many different treatment modalities, starting with the least invasive first. 

Specifically, NDs mainly focus on the prevention and treatment of illness by using the extraordinary ability of the human body to protect and heal itself. While licensed Naturopathic doctors may occasionally prescribe pharmaceutical drugs to help manage symptoms, they primarily look for ways to support the body’s natural mechanisms of healing and homeostasis. 

Modern Science Meets Centuries Old Therapies

NDs use a combination of modern, evidence-based science and centuries-old techniques in order to optimize individuals’ inherent self-healing processes. This may include nutritional modifications, lifestyle interventions, clinically studied botanical medicine, dose appropriate medical nutritional support, and other minimally invasive, non-toxic therapies. NDs frequently order lab tests in order to help inform and guide their treatment decisions.  

Focus On Acute And Chronic Illness Prevention And Management

NDs are able to handle many acute conditions, as well as lend their expertise to the prevention and treatment of chronic medical issues that require more in-depth and long-term attention. Their goal is always to look beyond the symptoms, and instead find the underlying cause of disease. Whenever possible, NDs seek to educate and empower their patients to participate in disease prevention and management.

Furthermore, NDs view the human body as an “integrated whole”, where physical, cognitive/emotional, and spiritual dimensions are interconnected and given equal consideration.

Want to learn more about Naturopathic Medicine? Chat with a ND at one of our 8 Bay Area Lounge locations. You can also send us a message via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Email.