Regulation of Naturopathic Medicine

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Regulation of all forms of medicine is supported by the national naturopathic associations (AANP and CAND) in North America as well as the accredited naturopathic colleges. Regulation refers to a level of government acceptance and once regulated a profession has a set scope of practice that they must adhere to. Naturopathic medicine and naturopathy are practiced in many countries with Canada and the United States being primary. Each country, province and state has its own standards of regulation, level of acceptance of naturopathic medicine. In North America, each jurisdiction that regulates naturopathy defines a local scope of practice for naturopathic doctors that can vary considerably. The modalities that are fairly consistent between the regulated jurisdictions include: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, nature cure therapies, and preventive and lifestyle counselling. The scope in some regions permits minor surgery, access to prescription drugs, spinal manipulations, intravenous therapies, chelation therapy, colonics, obstetrics and gynecology.[1], [2]

Regulation in Canada

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1921 marks the start of regulation of naturopathic medicine in Canada when the British Columbia Medical Act was amended to include the practice of naturopathy and chiropractic. In 1925 naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Ontario became regulated under the umbrella legislation, Drugless Practitioners Act. In 1936 the Naturopathic Physician's Act was formed in B.C. and this was the first time that naturopathic physicians were regulated under their own Act. The regulation in Manitoba followed in 1946 under The Naturopathy Act, Alberta in 1948 under the "Drugless Practitioner's Act" and Saskatchewan in 1954 under The Naturopathy Act. In 2008 Nova Scotia receives title protection under the Naturopathic Doctors Act. The Canadian Timeline provides an overview the regulatory history in Canada, including the many regulatory revisions in the different provinces. It is common practice for naturopathic doctors in the unregulated provinces to maintain membership in a regulated province. Since the early 1990s, any naturopathic doctor that graduates from an accredited naturopathic program in North America is expected to meet the standards of the NDs in the regulated provinces in order to maintain membership in their provincial or national associations.[3]

Regulation in the United States

The first State to initially regulate naturopathic medicine was California in 1909, Connecticut followed in 1920. By 1953 twenty-three States had received government recognition or licensure, yet due to Sunset laws in the United States many of the States that were initially regulated lost their regulation and in 1975 there were only seven remaining States that still regulated naturopathic medicine. Since that time, and due to the growth and acceptance of naturopathic medicine, much effort has been done to re-establish the United States as a country of regulated naturopathic physicians.

Currently, 16 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license. For information about the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Board (NPLEX) and the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE), please see our Education page. Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and will have a specific scope of practice defined by their state's law. The states that currently have licensing laws for naturopathic physicians are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. reference AANP

Regulation in Australia

There is no state licensure in Australia, rather the profession is self-regulated. There is no protection of title, meaning that technically anyone can practise as a naturopath. The only way to obtain insurance for professional indemnity or public liability is by joining a professional association, which can only be achieved having completed an accredited course and gaining professional certification.

Regulation in India

'To be updated


  3. Lloyd Iva 2009 The History of Naturopathic Medicine, a Canadian perspective, Elsevier, Toronto.