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The Growing Reputation of Naturopaths

The Los Angeles Times is fast becoming one of my favorite newspapers in the world (just behind the New York Times and USA Today), largely because they've begun devoting much more space to the natural side of medicine. The timing was great on their end: California became the 13th state in America to license naturopaths last week. And the trend appears to be spreading, with New York, Florida and Massachusetts considering similar measures.

Much of the piece explains the history behind naturopathy, whose philosophies cut to heart of what my staff and I practice daily at the Optimal Wellness Center.

One doctor who practices in San Rafael (and did a great deal to spur licensure of naturopaths in the state) said it best: "The relationship with the patient is key. We sit with someone for an hour and a half, take a thorough history. We talk about their marriage, what the relationship is like, about their spiritual focus." This promotes the partnership between patient and doctor "that builds confidence and a willingness to make the kind of changes that promote health and prevent disease."

Another doctor points out, the road to optimal health "takes a lot of work, a lot more commitment from the patient. You can't expect a magic pill. We expect them to eat better, get more exercise and get more sleep."

Although it's too early to determine if the licensing of naturopaths will prompt more Californians to seek their services, Washington state, which has licensed naturopaths for almost 20 years, may show where the trend is heading. The state has more than 600 practitioners who are used as both complementary and primary care doctors. Also, by that state's law, insurance is required to cover visits to naturopathic physicians.

Los Angeles Times January 17, 2005

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