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Naturopathic Medicine | FAQs

What is an appointment with a naturopathic physician (ND) like?

Who can benefit from naturopathic care?

Is naturopathic care covered by insurance?

What kind of education and training do NDs have?

Can I bring my child to see an ND at Bastyr?

Why should I see an ND about taking herbs or supplements?

Can NDs prescribe drugs or perform surgery?

Can I select an ND as my primary care provider?

What can an ND provide that an MD may not?

I'm also seeing a medical doctor (MD). Should I tell the physicians about each other?

Can I receive income-based discounts on naturopathic care?

What is an appointment with a naturopathic physician (ND) like?

The first appointment with a naturopathic physician usually lasts 90 minutes. The appointment includes a thorough written questionnaire regarding your health history, your health concerns and your lifestyle. The physician will then conduct an in-depth verbal interview about your health and any areas of concern. Depending on your health concerns, the naturopathic physician may check vital signs and conduct a physical examination. Follow-up appointments last about an hour.

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Who can benefit from naturopathic care?

Naturopathic care can help all types of conditions. It is effective for many chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, as well as fatigue, headaches, and depression. It is also effective for preventing health problems.

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Is naturopathic care covered by insurance?

We accept and bill for many insurance plans from companies such as Regence, Premera, Aetna, First Choice, Cigna and Uniform. Appointments and laboratory work are usually covered at a certain percentage or with a co-payment. Please contact your insurance plan to verify your specific coverage for complementary and alternative medicine. Vitamins, herbs, natural supplements and tinctures are not currently covered by insurance plans.

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What kind of education and training do NDs have?

Naturopathic physicians receive four to five years of graduate medical training, including a two-year clinical internship. The rigorous academic curriculum includes training in the medical sciences including anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and neuroscience. They are trained in clinical diagnosis, pathology and such specific topics as pediatrics, gynecology, oncology, dermatology and gastroenterology. Additionally, they are trained in natural therapeutic techniques and holistic treatment principles. In the state of Washington, naturopathic physicians are licensed as primary care providers and pass national board examinations.

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Can I bring my child to see an ND at Bastyr?

Yes, naturopathic doctors at Bastyr Center treat patients of all ages, including children and senior citizens. Natural medicine can be very effective for common children’s ailments, such as chronic ear infections and colds.

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Why should I see an ND about taking herbs or supplements? Can't I just buy these over the counter and take them myself?

Naturopathic physicians receive extensive training in herbal medicine. They are knowledgeable about potentially harmful interactions and can help you assess the right herbs or supplements and the right dosage for your condition. The label of “natural” is no guarantee that it is completely safe for you to take.

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Can NDs prescribe drugs or perform surgery?

Naturopathic physicians can prescribe a number of pharmaceutical drugs (such as antibiotics), but in Washington they currently cannot legally prescribe all pharmaceutical drugs that a medical doctor can prescribe. Naturopathic physicians can perform minor office procedures, but will refer patients to outside physicians for more extensive procedures. You should ask your naturopathic physician about the specific drugs or procedures you are considering.

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Can I select an ND as my primary care provider?

Yes, in the state of Washington, naturopathic physicians are licensed as primary care providers (PCPs). Naturopathic physicians, however, do not work with insurance companies in the same way as PCPs who make referrals to other specialists for coverage. Please ask your insurance company or your naturopathic physician about how their status as a PCP relates to your insurance coverage. You can also see a naturopathic physician as an adjunct to the care you are receiving from a medical doctor or other specialist.

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What can an ND provide that an MD may not?

A naturopathic physician will look at you from a holistic perspective, seeking the underlying causes of your illness, rather than elimination of symptoms. Likely you will spend more time with the naturopathic physician, exploring issues of lifestyle, history, diet, etc. A naturopathic physician will search first for the least intrusive methods of treatment with the lowest risk of side effects. You'll be encouraged to become a partner in your health care, actively making decisions with the guidance of your physician.

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I'm also seeing a medical doctor (MD). Should I tell the physicians about each other?

Yes, it’s very important that both of your physicians are aware of the treatment you are receiving as well as any medications, herbs or natural supplements you are taking. Naturopathic physicians are trained in herb/drug interactions and can help assure that any herbs or supplements you take are compatible with your medications.

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Can I receive income-based discounts on naturopathic care?

Bastyr Center for Natural Health offers special rates on visits to our naturopathic doctors based on household income. Learn more about special rates at Bastyr Center. Questions? Contact our Patient Services Representatives at 206.834.4100.

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