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What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process.  The practice of Naturopathic Medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods. The following principles are the foundation of Naturopathic Medical practice:  

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic Medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

  • Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The Naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms. 

  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic doctors follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:

    • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat; 

    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and

    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process. 

  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic doctors educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-client relationship. 

  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic doctors treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, Naturopathic doctors encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development. 

  • Prevention: Naturopathic doctors emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their clients to prevent illness.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopathic doctors combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, Naturopathic Medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive evaluations and recommendations. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, Naturopathic doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the Naturopathic doctor’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.

Naturopathic doctors work worldwide in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. Qualified Naturopathic doctors undergo rigorous training and board examination before they are able to become licensed healthcare practitioners. Visit the AANP's Professional Education page at to learn more about Naturopathic education.

Education & Training
To obtain a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, students must have three years of undergraduate pre-medical sciences followed by successful completion of a 4-year full-time in-residence medical program at an accredited Naturopathic medical school. This includes more than 4,500 hours of classroom training and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience. For more information on Naturopathic medical training, please visit The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education at
There are seven accredited Naturopathic medical schools in North America. To learn more about these schools, please visit the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges at
To be licensed or registered in states or jurisdictions that allow licensure or registration as a healthcare provider, Naturopathic doctors must pass NPLEX board exams that are written after the 2nd and 4th year of study. For more information, please visit the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners at


Dr. Hawkins has passed the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) and holds a license as a primary care naturopathic doctor in Washington state. She is not yet licensed in North Carolina because North Carolina has no law to date regulating the practice of naturopathic medicine. Currently, 23 states plus the District of Columbia and the United States Territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands provide for the licensure or registration of naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic doctors in North Carolina are actively working toward licensure legislation.


Dr. Hawkins is the current President of the North Carolina Association of Naturopathic Physicians as well as the Co-Chair of the NCANP Legislative Committee. She is also a professional member of both the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and serves as the North Carolina Delegate to the AANP House of Delegates. 

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