What Is an NMD? An Oregon Naturopath Playing an MD

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We have a family naturopath that my wife and kids have been seeing for years for food-related allergies. They love the guy, and he’s been spot-on with his recommendations. So the idea that we have healthcare providers who train on natural methods to modify disease is not a problem for me. Where I have an issue is when a naturopath tries hard to create confusion about his or her credentials for the sole purposes of convincing the public that he or she is an MD. Let me explain.

What Is a Naturopath?

A naturopath is a healthcare provider who goes to a naturopathic college instead of traditional medical school. These colleges don’t have large university teaching hospitals chock-full of researchers pulling down many millions or billions in government grants. Instead, they are more colleges that focus on the concepts of natural healing, herbs, and supplements. So the training between these two types of educational institutions is bound to be very different.

First, there is nothing wrong with a practitioner who decides to try to focus on natural healing. If you read this blog, you know that I can be pretty critical about how invasive and side-effect laden traditional medicine can be. Hence, you likely wouldn’t be surprised that my family sees a local naturopath for food allergy-related issues.

However, like everything in life, things work better when professionals stay in the lanes for which they have been trained. As an example, your accountant shouldn’t start trying to psychoanalyze you, and your therapist likely wouldn’t be any good at preparing your taxes. The same holds true in medicine.

However, rather than staying in the lane of natural healing, where naturopaths have been trained, what we’re beginning to see is a conscious effort by naturopaths to push outside the boundaries of their education into traditional medicine. I’ve documented quite a bit of activity where naturopaths are trying hard to add surgical procedures to what they do, despite having no such training in their naturopathic colleges. Another phenomenon that’s been going on a while is using titles that are created specifically to confuse the public.

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An NMD on LinkedIn

I was scrolling through my feed on LinkedIn the other day when I came across a picture of what looked like a physician in a lab coat and with a stethoscope on a post that had to do with natural remedies. The title for the guy in the lab coat was “NMD.” That was a new one for me, as I know various naturopathic practice acts specifically state which titles a naturopath can use. Hence, oftentimes they use the honorarium “ND” after their name.

This was a real puzzle, as my first thought was that we have two possibilities here. One is that this is a physician who went to medical school who then decided to go to naturopathic school. The other was that this was a naturopath who was purposefully trying to confuse the public into thinking he was an MD who was interested in natural healing.

So which was it? This naturopath was trying to confuse the public. That worked so well that when I pointed out in the comments that he wasn’t an MD, another poster commented:

“Chris Centeno, M.D.  Interesting comment, when I saw this post all that caught my eye was Dr in the title and MD after the name. thanks for pointing out he’s not a medical doctor “

The Oregon Naturopathic Practice Act

This naturopath is from Oregon, so I looked up what that practice act had to say about this issue:

“850-050-0120-(c) Use the terms “naturopathic practitioner,” “naturopathic healer,” “naturopathic doctor,” “naturopathic consultant”

However, just like many naturopathic practice acts, this one is pretty vague about whether a naturopath can use other terms. I searched under the term “NMD” and found it nowhere in the document. So is it legal in Oregon to use that term? I found nothing on the topic.

The upshot? An “NMD” is a naturopath who is trained very differently from an MD or DO physician. That may not be a bad thing if you want to get to the bottom of your food allergies or want advice on which supplements to take. However, it’s not a good thing if you need a surgical procedure. Hence, understanding what these initials mean and paying attention is pretty important.

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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