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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lee Aberle, ND, IFMCP

What the heck is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Since moving to this state, I have noticed most people have not heard of a Naturopathic doctor, let alone seen one. In this article, I want to explain what Naturopathic Medicine is, so you will better understand what this type of doctor does and if they will be a good match for your health care goals.

Like all doctors, Naturopathic doctors go to 4 years of medical school.

The education consists of basic and clinical sciences and diagnostic and therapeutic subjects. The modalities taught range from botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, minor surgery, pharmaceutical medicine, physical medicine, and parenteral therapy, AKA IV therapy/injections. There is a licensing exam after the 2nd year and upon graduation from medical school. When we graduate, we are very well-rounded and can utilize many different treatments to give individualized care to every person who walks in. Because of how individualized it is, our visits tend to be longer than you are used to, so we can get your whole picture, which will help us better understand you and your health. Your symptoms tell a story, and we take the time to listen to you.

You may be wondering why Naturopathic doctors learn things that are not allowed in Minnesota. Each state dictates how Naturopathic doctors practice. In some states, we can do manipulations, prescribe medicine, IV therapy, and minor surgeries, while in others, we can't. In fact, not every state has licensure for Naturopathic doctors. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 26 States and territories have laws regulating naturopathic doctors.

The practice of Naturopathic Medicine utilizes six different principles of healing. They are:

  1. The healing power of nature: We believe the body has an innate ability to heal and restore health. The goal is to find the obstacles that are in the way and remove them.

  2. Identify and treat the cause: Our symptoms tell a story. They are there for a reason, and our goal is to determine your underlying cause, so treatment can begin.

  3. First, do no harm: As with any doctor, we take an oath to do no harm.

  4. Treat the whole person: We believe that the whole body is connected, so for the body to act harmoniously, the whole body should be treated. Naturopathic medicine is so individualized because each person is uniquely different.

  5. The doctor as a teacher: My goal is to help YOU on your health journey. I am here to educate and guide you so you can make the best decisions you can for your health.

  6. Prevention: My goal is to educate and promote healthy lifestyle habits, which will foster your best healthy life.

We also like to follow a therapeutic order. Our goal is to utilize the least invasive intervention for healing.

  • First, we start with good foundations: diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and lifestyle.

  • Then we work to stimulate your body's self-healing mechanisms while supporting and restoring your weakened body systems by using vitamins, minerals, and other supplements.

  • The next level addresses physical ailment, which utilized manipulations/physical medicine.

  • After that, we look at natural symptom relief, which utilizes therapeutical doses of herbs. We look at synthetic symptom relief, including pharmaceutical medication, if that does not work.

  • Last in the therapeutic order is high force intervention which includes surgery.

We aim to work with each patient where they are so we create their optimal health together. In Minnesota, we may have to refer you to someone who can do physical medicine, pharmaceutical medicine, injection therapy, and surgery. Still, we are qualified to evaluate your issues and know when those things are warranted. If needed, we work with your other doctors and providers to find the best plan and care for you.

By now, you may wonder what type of patients Naturopathic doctors take care of, and the answer is EVERYONE. We are trained as primary care doctors, so we do preventative screening, acute care, and chronic care for all ages. If this is something that resonates with you, give our clinic a call to book a new patient appointment.

You can schedule a FREE "Talk to your Doc" 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your health concerns or questions. Did I mention it's free? We will love to chat if you have questions about natural, alternative, or integrated care. We are here to support you on your health journey.

If you want a question addressed in a future article, please contact me at

Yours, in health.

Dr. Liza Aberle

Further resources:

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