FAQ Naturopathic Medicine

How does a naturopathic doctor differ from a traditional naturopath?

Naturopathic doctors attend four-year, graduate-level, accredited naturopathic medical schools where they are trained as primary care doctors of natural medicine. Naturopathic doctors are licensed by the State of California Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine and have attended an accredited naturopathic medical school. Traditional naturopaths’ education and experience vary, they are not licensed, nor are they primary care doctors.

How does a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) compare to a medical doctor ( M.D.)?

Naturopathic doctors have similar training in medical and clinical sciences (i.e. biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, etc.), and in addition, they have extensive training in a full spectrum of natural medicines and therapies with emphasis on diet and nutrition. They utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies first. Preventive medicine is of the utmost importance in their treatment philosophy. NDs spend more time with their patients to find the underlying causes of illness and to determine an integrative treatment plan. Blood chemistry and alternative diagnostic tools and tests are also utilized. Naturopaths can prescribe all hormones, but in California they cannot prescribe other pharmaceutical drugs. They are also trained in minor surgery. Naturopathic doctors intern in clinics and with doctors of many different specialties, but generally do not do hospital rounds.

What type of care can a naturopathic doctor offer you?

NDs can give injections such as vitamin shots (i.e. B12) and homeopathic injections. They also can treat skin problems such as the removal of skin lesions, warts, moles, etc. and many other skin problems including rashes, acne, rosacea, and dermatitis. Poison ivy, spider bites, cuts and abrasions are also treated. They are trained in botanical medicine and manipulation. Naturopaths treat soft tissue injuries such as sprains, and also spinal, joint and disc problems. They perform gynecological exams and tests for women’s health such as pap smears. Naturopathic doctors can order all blood lab and diagnostic tests and they use many specialty labs for tests such as digestion, parasites, Lyme, hormones and many more. ND’s are well-versed in the use of bio-identical hormone therapy to resolve hormonal difficulties. They may specialize in specific fields such as pediatrics and women’s health, or they may be in general practice.

Do all states license naturopathic doctors? Why is this new to California?

Currently 20 states, Washington, D.C., 2 US territories, and 4 Canadian provinces license naturopathic doctors. Each licenced states’ scope of practice varies. For example, in Arizona where Dr. Cole practiced for 23 years, naturopathic doctors have equal standing with MDs and DOs. They can prescribe medications and all diagnostic tests. California had a license for naturopathic doctors until the 1950s when it was voted out. A new license began in 2004, with some limitations. They can prescribe all hormones, but the California law currently does not allow the prescribing of most other pharmaceutical drugs. Although NDs are trained in acupuncture in medical school, and practice acupuncture under their naturopathic medical licence, a separate acupuncture license is required in California.

Does insurance cover naturopathic medicine?

Depending on your policy, insurance may cover office visits, although supplements are not reimbursed. Our blood panel is usually covered by insurance, as well as our Neurotransmitter test. Ask your agent if there are any restrictions to primary care doctors. The policy may say MDs and DOs only, or Physicians and Surgeons only. These are restrictions which exclude NDs. Without restrictions, you may be reimbursed. Also, we are a cash office, but we will provide you with a Superbill for submission. Hopefully, in the future insurance will be more responsive to naturopathic medicine. Medicare does not recognize naturopathic medicine.

What are Dr. Cole’s specialties?

Because Dr. Cole practiced in a progressive state for NDs, his experience is broad. He has thorough training in pharmaceutical drugs and his goal is to strengthen and heal the body to eliminate the need for these medications. He sees patients from simple respiratory infections to chronic degenerative diseases including heart disease, arthritis, and chronic fatigue and many other complex cases. Digestive disorders such as parasites and candida are also addressed. He additionally treats depression, insomnia, fatigue, and neurological problems. Hormonal balancing for men and women using bio-identical hormones is also an important part of his practice. Dr. Cole works with spinal pain and joint disorders. Using natural skin care products, Dr. Cole treats skin problems and regenerates the skin.

Click here to find out what are Dr. Cole’s fees, and what would a first office visit involve?