Pennsylvania will have clear standards for who is and who is not a naturopathic doctor beginning in 2018 under a bill passed by the Legislature this week.
The House and Senate both voted overwhelmingly to set education and training requirements with the State Board of Medicine and allow only qualified applicants to use the titles “naturopathic doctor” or “doctor of naturopathic medicine.”
Currently naturopathic medicine is not regulated in Pennsylvania.
The bill’s approval follows 16 years of effort and “will first and foremost help consumers in Pennsylvania to know that they are seeking the advice of a qualified naturopathic doctor,” the Pennsylvania Association of Naturopathic Physicians said on Facebook.
Two Lancaster County lawmakers — Republican state Reps. Bryan Cutler and Steve Mentzer — were among the bill’s sponsors.
They said in an emailed statement that naturopathic medicine “has helped many people suffering from chronic diseases get relief without chemicals and pharmaceuticals that may have unintended side effects” and “is also a cost-effective way to relieve maladies caused by poor diets, sedentary lifestyles and high stress.”
The bill is awaiting Gov. Wolf’s signature.
It would require naturopathic doctors to have completed 4,100 hours of education and clinical training in a naturopathic medical school and pass the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners' national licensure examination.
Legislators said those who are not registered will be allowed to continue practicing naturopathic medicine but not to call themselves doctors. They also said that the bill has no impact on insurance, which typically does not cover naturopathic care.
Seventeen states currently regulate naturopathic doctors, according to The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.