Schools for Holistic Medicine & Accreditation Myths

Schools for Holistic Medicine & Accreditation Myths

Hi there, my name is Ava Rockwell. I’m the Founder of the School of Holistic Medicine. Today I want to give you some insight into my industry. I’ve learned a lot, both as a student and as the Founder of the School of Holistic Medicine, —and wow, I have a lot to share with you.

When you embark on your journey to learn how you can study, and eventually practice, natural medicine, holistic medicine, functional medicine, herbal medicine, or whatever area of holistic health you want to learn, —you are going to come across a ton of multimillion-dollar ads and gimmicks trying to drive sales funnels to what they would have you believe is “the best school for holistic medicine” or the “best holistic medicine school on the planet”, etc. You get the picture, I’m sure.

Don’t fall victim to this. Just because it’s the field of natural medicine, doesn’t mean the people behind the scenes aren’t above reproach when it comes to greed, ethics, or sometimes pushing an agenda. After all, this is a for profit industry.

Most people who enter this field initially are nervous. What they want to do, practice, or feel inclined towards is often not ‘conventional’ by the standards set by society.

Yet at the same time, John Hopkin’s University proved in a study that conventional medicine is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, —and suspected worldwide to be a serious issue. If you want to read that, you may do so in our blog where we have a huge write up on the matter.

So, while natural medicine and natural medicine education are both viewed skeptically, with a raised eyebrow, the bottom line is, —it’s much more organic and benign than anyone would have you believe. In fact, the science and anecdotal evidence supports the effectiveness of it. Natural medicine gets results.

That brings me to my next point. Here is the entire bottom line. You need to choose a program that….

#1 Calls to you, that speaks to you, —That is actually going to help you as an individual immediately in your own personal life, because a program can’t serve you if it can’t serve your family, whether or not you go into business for yourself with your own practice.

This is real talk.

#2 The program must be modern, current, viable, up-to-date vs. dated, stagnant, etc.

Why? Because you actually have to help others, —and you aren’t going to be able to help them if you are doing a program that hasn’t evolved for 20 years or is using a nutrition book from 1982.

The reason people choose schools based on accreditation myths, is because…

#1 They are only getting half of the truth…

They really need to self educate and know what is important —what’s important is if the program speaks to you and you yearn to know and practice it’s content because it gets you feeling excited, passionate, and because it will give you the actual education and skillsets that you need to practice safely, responsibly, and confidently.

#2 They’re scared… they’re unsure, —what their friends, family, co-workers, church, etc, think / ask / judge them and ask if the school is ‘accredited’ or not, or because they think someone, somewhere, is going to tell them that they can’t practice unless they go to an ‘accredited’ school.

This is false, false, false.

I will say (sadly, myself included) that most of our graduates come here very insecure. And while modern medicine is awesome, conventional medicine is put on a pedestal and natural medicine is relegated to pariah status, —or it was, until it became a multi-billion dollar industry and more holistic health practitioners and light workers (healers) being needed now more than ever.

Often people think licensed medical professionals can do no wrong and is always above reproach, —until that field of medicine harms them, and then they begin to question.

Conventional medicine is the 3rd leading cause of death due to medical errors.

My point is there is no be all end all. There is no this is best or this is right. There is only integration and awareness of choices for treatment and, more importantly, prevention. Prevention is everything. That’s why every person on the planet needs at least one, if not many, holistic health practitioners in their life.

And while conventional medicine is the be all and end all in our society, —despite the study by John Hopkin’s referenced above, natural medicine is often demonized. Part of this is ignorance and part of it is propaganda.

So everyone starts this journey tepidly, walking on eggshells, unsure if they can really do what they love and succeed… So they are worried about what the people will think, and how to look the most credible.

These things are valuable, however, what is more important than faux credibility, is actual credibility which can only come from your education and ability to actually help others through your learning and your experiences.

Of course, when people begin this journey, they don’t have the hindsight to put things together. It can take a minute to get your feet wet, but you will catch on, —and this article will help speed the process.

That way you can choose a program that works for you vs a program based on the hype. It’s important that prospective students really get grounded and aligned when choosing the right school for them. For us, this is a lifetime community you will be involved with and in.

Future practitioners, like yourself reading this, often don’t know how much a good school gives them the confidence to practice in an organic manner that creates repeat clients and references for a lifetime,—not because you went to an accredited school, but because you got a solid education and came away with the ability to practice effectively with a variety of strengths.

Sadly, people get stuck in mediocre programs or lose money having to switch mid-program. Speaking of which, we have those kinds of students, —who started somewhere else, left, and changed to SOHM.

I would attend every school on the planet if money and time were no object. The reality is, most of our students have attended multiple schools. All schools have something to offer, but some schools have more.

The ‘more’ that is the key factor, is what’s going to make you a good, ethical, honest, practitioner? Lifetime access helps!

So businesses, including holistic health schools, do whatever it takes to drive sales to their programs, —naturally, of course. The quality, cost, and length of the program is irrelevant when it comes to marketing.

With this comes (to some degree), a natural lack of transparency, word salad, double talk (a bunch of fluff, little substance), and bubble talk (not being clear, getting to a point), —or content mostly created for search results and fake 3rd party sites created by schools that are parading as ‘real and independent organizations’ all just referencing programs as affiliates that funnel traffic in a biased manner.

In addition to these are sales ads, —everywhere. It starts in Google Search, where the top four (and the last four) results are, —you guessed it, ads.

And what do these sites and ads try to capitalize on? Well, the biggest issue / topic in the field of holistic health education, and the driver of fear of prospective students, is: 

What accreditation is there for my program?

The thing is, professional accreditation is not government approved or regulated, so it’s just not that important in school choice determination, nor is it actually reflective of the program as anyone would have you believe.

For example, the school or program may or may not have been even vetted (checked for quality, accuracy, viability, etc).

—I’ve personally seen professional accreditation agencies that do review programs, and those that just charge to put your school name on their website. Professional accreditation agencies are not bad, it’s the schools that push their accreditation as though it were required, which is false.

It’s not the indicator anyone would have you believe.

We have a huge article on accreditation, and a different one for certification, in our FAQ. This article is different in that it’s just a refresher. Our main issue with it is that

If you really want the “ins-and-outs”, and the “behind-the-scenes” truth about the subject, I strongly suggest you read those articles, after you finish this one!

It will also answer the question as to why herbal schools do not seek professional accreditation (refuse it), and why we choose to do the same.

‘Professional’ accreditation businesses and schools for holistic medicine will create entire websites with information all about a particular school that gets you excited, looks professional, and ticks all the boxes —they will make a big deal about ‘accreditation’ and write generic articles with lots of keywords to show up in search on Google page one.

Why? So they can drive sales to their sometimes decent, other times woefully mediocre, programs. We are more of a grassroots school for holistic medicine.

We teach alternative and complementary medicine for people to learn and eventually practice. We are a small boutique school without a huge advertising budget, —and nothing but the truth, truly incredible programs, and an amazing community to offer prospective students.

We are the best school of this class and type, although there are a few schools we do affiliate with whose programs we respect and admire, —and can offer our students. Many of our graduates have attended multiple schools. 

Professional ‘accreditation’ companies and holistic educators alike will harp all day that accreditation somehow matters.

What they skip telling you is that you don’t even need their education to practice on your own, as these are unregulated industries,—because they are in business and want to drive sales.

I always tell people, you don’t need us to practice, but it helps to be more educated depending on your current level of knowledge and skillsets. 

So they write shady articles scaring you into thinking that accreditation actually matters in the field of holistic medicine education, when in fact, it does not.

While well intentioned, it’s essentially just for profit, although some of them do try to do good and have conferences and/or lobby for health freedoms. My issue is with false information, half truths, and bias. I like transparency above all else.

It is also not right that many of the ‘accreditation’ agencies push specific schools that they affiliate with.

They can tell you what they want to tell you to sell their courses, in a very fluffy, ‘plastic’ way that is very generic, —but truly, accreditation is not an important part of your alternative medicine (alt med), holistic health, or natural medicine education.

Educators will tell you it is to sell their programs and courses, —and sometimes the accreditation company owns the school, but it’s all umbrella companies and requires some degree of digging. 

Check who the website is that you’re reading from, because a lot of time, it’s just a plant from an ‘educator’ portraying themselves as a well-intentioned (and objective) 3rd party, again redirecting sales. We have no such plants out there. What you see is what you get. 

So, I don’t take too much issue with this, except that it’s a for profit vs. for quality thing, —and it is misleading, let’s not make any bones about it.

That’s why I started the school. There was too much funny business going on with the established natural health schools on the market before we came about.

Anyway, this stuff like accreditation and ‘certification’ number one is not really the seal of approval that an educator would have you believe.

Certification is relative, and like a virus, depends on your perspective it it really ‘exists’ outside of government oversight for things like CPR and First Aid, for example. The term is used, and we have a right to use it, it’s just people don’t understand it’s more for title vs. function. 

Finding an accredited school isn’t necessary because it’s not government regulated, and professional in nature, meaning anyone can start an accreditation business today and accredit any school they chose.

That’s why accreditation doesn’t truly mean (in any way shape or form) that a program provides a standard of education accepted in the industry. It’s an unregulated industry and education is not standardized like it is for massage therapist, realtors, plumbers, etc. It’s all relative, and so is accreditation. 

Now, if you like the program, —that is what matters.

Does the program speak to you?

Only after I knew the most pertinent information and had a solid foundation at Rockwell, would I attend other schools for holistic medicine.  

Be aware, these educators will create 3rd party websites for SEO, to drive sales via multiple channels and to rank, by writing weird articles like the clip below: (all so they can push their ‘accreditation’ agenda or narrative to drive sales and profit).

The problem with it is that it funnels people to sometimes mediocre, outdated programs. It leads them to believe that professional accreditation is in any way the same or equal to conventional accreditation, and thus profit on ignorance and fear. 

Here’s an example of some generic reading to push accreditation, get search results, and drive sales. It’s like everything is always about the money. If you read it, you can see that it’s very generically written. 


Alternative Medicine Degree: What You’ll Study

Alternative medicine careers require different levels of education. Here are your curriculum and degree paths.

holistic ingredients for alternative medicine

What holistic medicine degrees are available?

From certificates to doctoral degrees, the alternative medicine arena offers a wide range of educational resources for those interested in joining this growing field.

If you plan to work as a naturopathic doctor (ND), you’ll need to earn a doctoral degree in order to practice. This type of program teaches students about all the areas of natural health and prepares them to work in a private practice or clinic.

Other alternative medicine programs, like hypnotherapy or homeopathy, are typically geared toward those with an ND (or MD) and come in the form of diplomas or certificates.

Many naturopathic doctors use homeopathy and hypnotherapy to complement their existing treatments. If you’re interested in studying an area of alternative medicine as a hobby, you can also find courses and seminars.


*blah blah blah, generic, generic, generic —ie., appearing / seemingly lacking some degree of authenticity and flow… stagnant… misleading, boring. They will come across as knowledgeable and sincere, but it’s just not. When you choose a school, choose a school that truly resonates with you. That is all.

Accreditation or not, —because as we state in our main article in our FAQ on accreditation for holistic medicine schools, it’s not government regulated, so it’s (not to be mean, but essentially, irrelevant).

Unless it is some specific career you are looking for which requires state licensure, then accreditation doesn’t matter. It’s a conventional education concern. This is alternative adult education.

Check out our main article in our FAQ to become an expert at this subject where we really lay it on the line and explain it piece by piece, —something other schools of this class and type refuse to do because of a lack of transparency and a desire to drive sales. 

If you believed them on first sight, you’d be convinced 1., you required them to start your practice, and 2., that accreditation was a be all and end all.

Herbal schools do not push this narrative and refuse ‘accreditation’. This is only an issue with non-herbal natural health schools. 

I hope this article helps begin to clarify a few things (and industry issues) to look out for. You want to be authentic in your practice and education.

All that matters is you choose what best resonates with your ideal education and your budget. 

If this article helped you, please like, share, subscribe, and comment below.

Which Medicinal Mushrooms Should You Use?

Which Medicinal Mushrooms Should You Use?

Note: If you just arrived from our IG post, you can scroll down below the mushroom picture to where it says “Continued”

Medicinal Mushroom Super Heroes

⁠Here’s a quick lesson to get you started—

Cordyceps (pronounced ‘cord-a-ceps’):

Cordyceps will help protect the lungs and oxygenate the entire body. ⁠Good for diabetics!

—Strongly recommended for this Covid-19 infection before, during, and after. ⁠

Next up —

Reishi (pronounced ree-shee or rye-shi):

Reishi will help support mood and balance stress as the ultimate adaptogen during these trying times. ⁠

Reishi also helps support brain health.

It is said to reduce and prevent the combined effects of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, etc.

It has also been shown to prevent cancer related tumor growth. ⁠

Next up —

Turkey Tail —this is excellent for immune function. ⁠

People who take it often report being exposed to someone who is sick, and never getting it or taking it after exposure and being ‘cleared’ by morning…

There are other medicinal mushrooms, but these are our top 3 picks to get you started.

New to mushroom shopping?

Buying mushroom products can be confusing and expensive.

Don’t do it by trial and error!


Many people like Amazon because of the fast delivery and generous refund / return policy, but some people like the more out of the way stores.

Today, we provide you with both options.

At the end, I will tell you where I personally order, that way you have more than one choice.

Let’s talk briefly about the cordyceps controversy.

Here’s an article to learn more about the different types of cordyceps.

After I read the article, I was fairly impressed with the piece, written by Real Mushrooms.

When it comes to mushrooms, you can take them as a tea, which I don’t think is strong enough —you can have them as a powder, mixed in broths or warm water. Or you can take them as a tincture. I think it might be ideal to double up on them as a tincture and a powder, but you can just do one if you like.

More Grass-roots-y Brands

Here are some tinctures —

Turkey Tail Tincture 

Cordyceps Tincture

Here are some options From Starwest Botanicals & Mountain Rose Herbs

Note: These herbs below vary in price depending on amount purchased —


Reishi (They don’t have turkey tail or cordyceps)

Mountain Rose Herbs 

Cordyceps (They don’t have turkey tail or reishi —not this is going to contain some mycelium vs. pure fruiting body)

Brands from Amazon
Mushroom Tincture Set

by Life Cykel $160 (but they have different sets or buy single tinctures)

Real Mushrooms

Reishi Extract Powder $35 for 1.6 oz (terrible cost to value)

Turkey Tail Extract Powder $35 for 1.6 oz (again, overpriced!)

Cordyceps Extract Powder $30 for 2 oz (wow!) 

Which ones would I order!?!

I’d probably stick with Real Mushrooms, but it might be cost-prohibitive for most. In that case, you can purchase from Starwest and Mountain Rose and just tincture your own or use their powders! I will update this article in the future with more mushrooms.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin-D

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin-D

Vitamin-D, A Critical Factor 

Most people don’t know that Vitamin-D is actually a hormone! 

In his Covid-19 papers, Paul Bergner referenced studies which indicate that low levels of Vitamin-D, (specifically 20ng/mL and below), correlate to a 57% increase in infection and hospital stays (specifically ICU or intensive care units).

That probably doesn’t mean much to the average person, but let’s be blunt, shall we? —For the sake of time. 

We are pretty much all deficient. Unless you are eating copious amounts of virgin cod liver oil, eating organ meats every week, or getting lots of sunshine Vitamin-D —you’re pretty much, ahem, shall we say —screwed. 

So… ‘true’ vitamin-D as I call it only comes from animal sources or the sun. 

So if you are getting sunshine, and enough magnesium, you’re probably good to go —but I’d lay bets that anyone getting enough D from sun exposure is probably still deficient in magnesium to some degree. 

And ya need magnesium to process D. 


So what is the issue? What are we getting at? 

If you aren’t sufficient in D —and for the sake of perfectionistic thoroughness, I’m gonna add ‘true’ vitamin-A to that (not beta-carotene, which doesn’t even convert in most, sorry vegans). 

Some vitamins and minerals go in tandem —like hand and hand, and are actually DANGEROUS if not balanced together.  

Take iron and vitamin C —iron is way more absorbable when taken with a good (non-ascorbic acid) source of vitamin-C in conjunction. Think beef and bell peppers or peanut soup and spinach. 

Next, take iodine —it is way better with selenium (and super dangerous if not balanced for those at risk for hypothyroid). 

Now, back to vitamin-A and vitamin-D. 

They are like 2 peas in a pod which is why you find them naturally together. Everywhere you find one you find the other, such as organ meats and cod liver oil.

That’s why taking them alone IS just meh —mediocre, better than nothing, but certainly not IDEAL. 

Additionally, low vitamin-D levels correlate with a 76-79% increased mortality rate. Most Americans have a 28ng/mL at the peak end of summer, which plummets to a mere 16ng/mL by the end of February. 

This stat puts about ½ of the population at risk for critical complications and yes, even hospitalization. 

Vitamin-D Dosages

Paul indicates to take 4,000-7,000 IU of Vitamin-D3 —however he doesn’t specify types of D3, which we discuss below. 

Herbalists are amazing at herbs —often they frown on other holistic practitioners. I get that —but for many herbalists their direct specific knowledge begins and ends with herbs. 

Unlike advanced holistic nutritionists like Rockwell produces, herbalists generally aren’t so focused on nutrition, outside of foraging. 

So they don’t seem to really specify and go deep in regard to best practices for supplementation and how critical it is that A is balanced with D or serious issues can arise, etc. 

So we get into all that for you at the end. 

But first, anyone not already taking Vitamin-D during the winter should just assume they are deficient. 

Additionally, wherever applicable (CA / FL) people should try to get 10-20 minutes of direct sun exposure per day. I’m saying that regardless of skin color a little is better than none, because skin color actually plays a role. 

Specifically, a light-skinned person can produce 20,000 IU of Vitamin-D with 20-minutes of direct sun exposure, whereas it will take a dark-skinned individual 3 hours to produce the same amount. 

Sunlight is weaker in the winter, so play around with it to figure out when it is strongest. 

Unfortunately, we only catch UVA rays through glass, which do not promote the creation of Vitamin-D. It has to be unfiltered UVB rays in order to produce Vitamin-D. 

Vitamin-D deficiency is much more prevalent in dark-skinned individuals. 

For such individuals, getting some sunshine is still beneficial, but supplemention may b the only truly viable option (besides food sources).

Vitamin-D stimulates the production of virucidal antimicrobial peptides and suppresses cytokine activity, making it useful for the “treatment of those viral respiratory infections that peak in wintertime.” 

For this purpose, Cannel et al suggest a pharmacological dose of 1,000-2,000 IU/kg per day, for several days. 

According to Paul Bergner, this translates into 75,000-150,000 IU (ng/mL) per day if they are 165 lbs. In my opinion, you can go up or down based on weight as a guide. 

Surprisingly, this high amount is not toxic. 

Bergner adds that throughout most of the 20th century, after Vitamin-D was first discovered, actual doses of up to 300,000 IU per day were standard treatment for toddlers and children exhibiting symptoms of rickets. In essence, the more, the better, but A does have upper limits so use caution and don’t down a full bottle of cod liver oil in one day. 

What Form of Vitamin-D is Best?

There are 2 kinds of vitamin-D, which include vitamin-D2 and vitamin-D3. 

Vitamin-D3 can only be sourced from animal-based foods and vitamin-D2 is sourced from plant-based foods. 

Vitamin-D is complex, plain and simple, the best way to get it is virgin CLO (unrefined —which means the vitamin-D was not removed and readded, or that a symmetric was added during the manufacturing process). 

Liver and Wellshire Farms pork or turkey liverwurst are also good sources. You can request your local Whole Foods order if it isn’t’ already stocked. Just contact the ‘speciality’ dept, and request it. 

The turkey version has  lower levels of A and D, respectively and is more mild .The pork is stronger in flavor, with much higher ratios of A and D. 

We will add that when taking vitamin-D, it really must be in the exact proper relation to vitamin-A. You see them together and naturally occurring in CLO and organ meats, specifically liver. 

It really isn’t ideal to load up on isolated vitamin-D. It’s best in relation to vitamin-A. 

It is a big, controversial subject however, so here are a few articles to help guide you in choosing which type of vitamin-D is good for you. 

A Word on Magnesium

You can’t absorb Vitamin-D without proper levels of magnesium. 

Bottom line here? Take your vitamin-D and get some 10-20 minutes of sunshine when you can! Of course, take your natural melatonin levels and the strength of the sun into consideration. 

Strong sun can take 10-minutes and a weak sun might take 20-minutes for a light-skinned individual. Medium or dark-skinned persons may require more sun time or more supplementation. 

See our chart below for how to get Vitamin-D and dosage details. 

  • Vitamin-D Sources & Uses
Vitamin-D Source Amount Variance (Pros / Cons) 
direct unfiltered sunshine 10-20 min light to medium skinned + if darker skinned (but you can still wear a hat to protect the delicate facial skin) depends on skin color
Vitamin-D3 (aka, cholecalciferol) meh… Take a lot if you want, as the study shows 300,000 IU was common —the concern arises with high dosages not balanced with A —this is the major issue. Vitamin-A as beta carotene are associated with increased risks of lung cancer. it’s synthetic 

some people are sensitive to it 

Is it synthetic? 

Ok well the lanonlinn is ‘natural’ if you don’t mind eating sheep hair grease, but then they add other chemicals… Yuk. 

It will do if it’s all ya got

Wellshire Farms Liverwurst (pork or turkey) 2 kinds pork or turkey —pork is stronger flavor, but higher A/D ratios 

—turkey is more mild of the two, lower A/D ratios 

it has a little dairy if you’re opposed / sensitive / allergic 

too salty 

lots of A and D tho!

Our Fave —one of 2 versions of VIRGIN cod liver oil 

My fave sources are: 

On Target Living CLO

Virgin CLO


wow just wow. amazing stuff

see the brands we recommend at the end of this post

additionally — ½-1 tsp is standard but lots of people take more but there are upper limits 

all the vitamins that were natural there weren’t filtered out and ‘re added’ (that’s just too much tampering)

other CLO’s pull the D out, re-add it, or worse, add synthetic. 

Traditional Naturopathy vs. Licensed Naturopathy: 2020 Update

Traditional Naturopathy vs. Licensed Naturopathy: 2020 Update

Classically Trained Traditional Naturopath Rights vs. Licensed Naturopathic Physician Rights

Please note, we think it is important to know the facts, figures, privileges and limitations with regard to our sister community of licensed naturopaths.

The first 30-minutes this video from Bastyr, one of 4 licensed naturopathic colleges in the United States, does just that.

Overall, it is a good video with some very interesting information we go over in this post.

However, at the 26-minute mark, they begin to discuss online universities for traditional naturopathy.

Note, they repeatedly emphasize that if you really want to be a physician, then these online schools that teach classical / traditional naturopathy aren’t the schools for you.

To that we say obviously!

—A few things to keep in mind:

Traditionally speaking, all naturopaths were classically trained and unlicensed themselves.

As you see in the video, there is a difference between doctor as teacher, or ‘docere’, and physician.

What is most shocking is that many naturopathic ‘physicians’ can’t practice as physicians either — (refer to the video).

To read about the rights of a traditional naturopath here.

—And many licensed naturopaths have to work on a cash-based model, like their classically trained traditional naturopathic peers, because the insurance model of billing is simply not widely accepted or available for naturopathic medicine and / or licensed in their state.

Many licensed naturopaths do not have the same full prescriptive rights (or any prescriptive rights at all, depending on their state of residence), as their conventional medical doctor peers.

—Yet they still have to pay the same price as conventional medical doctors for med school, which is somewhere around $135,000.

—To top it all off, many will have to practice as ‘health coaches’ if they live in one of over 20 states that do not offer licensure.

And lastly, not everyone wants to be a naturopathic physician if it requires one to relocate to one of 8 campuses in all of North America (2 which are in Canada, Vancouver and Ontario).

Actually, make that 7 colleges, because Bridgeport just closed their ND program to new applicants in the fall of 2019. (see below).

Closed applications

So if you really want to be a naturopathic ‘physician’, you have 4 colleges in the USA and 2 universities in Canada to choose from.

We count Bastyr as 1 college, with 2 campuses, making it technically a total of 4 colleges in the USA and 5 campuses to choose from. I don’t know about you, but where I come from, those are called slim pickins’!

While some naturopathic physicians may do very well for themselves financially, not all do.

Unlike conventional medical doctors in any speciality, who are pretty much guaranteed to be able to pay off student debt with eventual ease, it is not always the case for NDs.

The disparity of the insurance model deeply affects their income and lifetime profitability —as well as their ease and flexibility to pay off student debt when compared to conventional medical doctors.

We refer you back to the articles in the website FAQ about the inhumanity of med school, and the inhumane hours of residencies, in part contributing to medical doctors and residents having the highest suicide rates of any other profession.

I absolutely think med school needs reformed —and I think conventional medicine should stay in their lane of acute care, or move towards more of a functional medicine approach.


We have a mass shortage of medical professionals in every speciality.

I personally know many individuals who would make wonderful physicians, but are unable to attend med school due to the exorbitant cost and outdated educational standards for admittance.

—No, I do not need finite math and 20 years of chemistry to be a wonderful physician.

Such unrealistic (non-womyn centric) standards creating barriers to entry do us no favors as a society, and bites the hand that feeds us by creating shortages in quality care and availability for patients.

—For example, sitting in a waiting room for 45-min is shameful to the industry —as are long waits in ER rooms across the country which put everyone at risk.

—So much reform is needed in modern medicine.

I also think residency requirements need urgently updated, which recently forbade more than 80 hours a week (it used to be 120). —rules which are still frequently breached and / or ignored.

And, yes, that means exactly what you think it means.

Med students and residents do not have much of a quality of life, and sacrifice much in regard to self-care, basic comfort, and quality time with family. —Many sleep at hospitals and work around the clock.

Now, back to licensed naturopathy…

Licensed naturopaths receive extreme criticism from the conventional medical establishment due to the fact that less than 1/4 of naturopathic physicians even do a residency —which conventional medicine considers 50% of the educational training of their career.

This further contributes to why naturopathic physician rights are hotly debated by proponents of conventional medicine.

Let me explain a bit…

Many conventional doctors stay in multi-year residencies, depending on their medical specialty. Cardiologist interns, for example, require 5 years, I believe.

This is part of the reason conventional medicine, (as a whole), disputes licensed naturopaths fighting for the same rights as medical doctors.

—A frustration that arises, in part, no doubt, because licensed naturopaths aren’t required to do these residencies.

It’s kind of like, “that’s not fair!”, they get to be a physician with half the work! Hmmphh! But I get it. Do you get it?

Instead of residencies, NDs are generally required to participate in 1200 clinical hours starting in their first year.

And not to sound overly critical, but make no mistake —It is not at all the same as a full-time residency.

These clinical rotations take place during school, and paired in groupings of 6, at least at Bastyr. Whereas most residents are on their own and independently learning one on one.

And while their clinical hours are helpful, and of course, still time consuming —it is, in many ways, not as thorough or rigourous as a residency for conventional medical doctors, —even those most basic of residencies, such as family medicine / basic practice.

We are also not saying college for NDs is ‘easy’, as they often do double the workload of an undergrad, which roughly translates from the ‘normal’ 12 credit hours per semester to a whopping 27 credit hours per term.

—I do however, disagree that their curriculum is fully adequate, or up to date, for the cost-to-value ratio.

For example, I do not think hydrotherapy should in any way require 4 semesters. I believe that could go towards other therapies, but that is just my opinion.

The bottom line is that reform is clearly needed for both conventional medicine and licensed naturopathy.

Classically trained traditional naturopaths, licensed naturopathic physicians, conventional and functional medicine doctors, all have their place, purpose, and need —assuming they are practicing ethically.

Do I think conventional medical doctors have any business treating anything but acute care? No, not really.

— And, given a choice, I sure would not want a licensed naturopath treating anyone I know for a broken arm or even minor surgery.

Sorry, but… just.. no way!

In that same vein, I also wouldn’t want a loved one getting treatment for chronic disease from a conventional medical doctor.

Traditional naturopaths, licensed naturopathic physicians, functional medicine doctors, and DOs (osteopathic doctors) are our best hopes in that arena, as are nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

What do you think?

TND vs. ND. vs. MD

TND vs. ND. vs. MD

Join us for a fascinating journey as we go in-depth to compare the differences in rights and training between licensed naturopaths, traditional naturopaths, and conventional medical doctors

What is now referred to as ‘traditional’ naturopathy was once simply known as ‘naturopathy’.

Once upon a time, there was just ‘medicine’, now there’s alternative medicine, complementary medicine, natural medicine, herbal medicine, holistic medicine, conventional medicine, functional medicine, predictive medicine, and integrative medicine.

Now, there are two different kinds of naturopathy — licensed and traditional, at least in the United States and Canada.

What we teach at Rockwell would be considered traditional naturopathy. This was the only kind of naturopathy taught from the early turn of the century when the ideologies of naturopathy, “nature cure” and “vitalism” were first conceived.

“The term naturopathy was coined in 1895 by John Scheel,[23] and purchased by Benedict Lust, whom naturopaths consider to be the “Father of U.S. Naturopathy”.[24]

This was way before NUNM in Oregon and Bastyr of California, (two of the first naturopathic colleges, originally ‘traditional’ themselves) fought for the rights to ‘license’ naturopaths. 

Founders of these institutions felt their grads were sufficiently trained and qualified and should therefore have the same right to practice with the same authority as conventional medical doctors.

TND vs. ND vs. MD: More differences than just professional designation…

Licensed naturopaths are different than traditional naturopaths in that they have the some of the same rights as medical doctors, depending on the state in question.

For example, licensed naturopathic physicians are given some of the same prescriptive rights as medical doctors in 23 or so states where licensing is available, but with some restrictions.

Please read this article, Traditional Naturopathy vs. Licensed Naturopathy: A 2020 Update, before continuing.  

Now, if you just read that short article, you are much more informed on the specific rights and limitations with regard to licensed naturopathic physicians.

Naturopathic Physicians: Employ natural therapies, but can resort to the use of conventional medical care if needed (usually with some restrictions, but not always).

Traditional Naturopaths: Employ natural therapies, with a focus on prevention and alternative therapies for chronic disease, but can refer out conventional medical care if needed for acute situations. 

Medical Doctor: Employ conventional medical treatments, do not usually believe in natural therapies, nor are they aware which ones exist, to what extent, or how they should be applied / utilized.

We, as holistic practitioners, present information and knowledge of evidence-based natural medicine and alternative therapies that conventional medical doctors and the general public are not usually aware of —tools that might make the difference between life and death or their entire quality of life. 

We focus on developing a multifaceted approach for the whole person which encompasses addressing an individual’s emotional, spiritual, and physical well being. 

This is really important, because conventional medical doctors do not learn these things in med school.

In fact, a lot of what Rockwell teaches, licensed naturopaths never get to study, either. Just compare the curriculums —ours and theirs

This doesn’t mean we are better —we are just different. Both programs are interesting, but ours is more practical and affordable for most people. 

Terminology & Use of ND vs. TND

Before licensed naturopathy, most traditional naturopaths used the professional designation of “ND”, however that has been taken over by the licensed naturopath.

—And it makes sense, but traditional naturopaths did use ‘ND’ first for several decades. Consequently, not everyone was happy about that as I’m sure you can imagine. 

Of course, you will still find some traditional naturopaths in unlicensed states using ND, but technically it’s a faux paux.

Because eventually, all states will most likely be licensed —and only licensed naturopaths will be able to use ND as their professional designation. It’s probably better to accept that now. 

The traditional naturopath, however may now use TND or CHHP (for Certified Holistic Health Practitioner).

We were actually the first holistic medicine school to start using TND, after which New Eden and Trinity School of Natural Health followed suit.  The latter, after a brief stint of disbanding their naturopath program altogether in lieu of using only the CHHP concept.

We can only speculate that this was a legal issue for Trinity, because their traditional naturopath grads were using ‘ND’, and many have infamously made the news on more than one occasion.  

Of course, some old school, traditionally trained naturopaths are not happy about this and many still continue to use ND to this day, at least in the states that don’t offer licensing to naturopathic physicians. —More about that soon.

You can read more about use of ND, TND, and CHHP here.

Which one is better? Traditional naturopathy or licensed naturopathy?

That’s like asking if conventional medicine is superior to naturopathy as a whole. Yes, some people may automatically jump to the conclusion that the licensed naturopathic physician is better than the traditional naturopath. This just isn’t so.

Both licensed and traditional naturopaths are wonderful in their own ways, and they each have different strengths and imitations, which we explore below.

The same applies to conventional medical doctors. Truly, I hear from people all the time that their doctor doesn’t know anything about cutting-edge therapies for their illness, and they feel ‘unheard’ and frustrated with their conventional care. We definitely need healthcare reform.

One of the most important things is to remove the AMA dictating med school curriculum, which is heavily, if not predominantly based on big pharma, or studying of ‘band-aid’ solutions instead of ‘root-cause’ solutions…

This focuses on treating symptoms instead of root causes. This creates a cycle where people are taking drugs the rest of their lives with untold side effects, like Tardive Dyskinesia

Strengths & Weakness in Education & Practice

The licensed naturopath will definitely have a much stronger clinical experience, with a greater focus on homeopathy and hydrotherapy, bordering with conventional medicine and blending the two.

They do also learn a decent amount of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, which is lovely. We study a bit of Chinese medicine, as well. And we study acupressure, not acupuncture

The traditional naturopath from Rockwell will comparatively have a more diverse background, most likely having been given the opportunity to study more modalities, such as medical ozone, color therapy, aromatherapy, flower essences, and sodium bicarbonate (to name a few).

Students in the traditional naturopathic program at Rockwell study a literal plethora of modalities with few exceptions to the field.

Our grads are ultra well rounded and knowledgeable.

We would love to see a debate with a traditional naturopath and a licensed naturopath just for fun!

For now, TNDs are not NDs and vice versa. Both are strong in their knowledge! Rockwell naturopaths are very strong!

Accredited Naturopathic Colleges & Education Programs

Stay with us —this can be a bit confusing.

According to the AANMC (Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges), there are only 8 college campuses in all of North America which offer an accredited naturopathic program.

Bastyr in the USA has two campuses, one in Seattle, WA and one in San Diego, CA which make a total of 7 colleges, and 8 campuses offering an accredited naturopathic program.

However, if you read the above referenced article at the beginning of this piece, you saw that Bridgeport closed their ND program to new applicants in the fall of 2019.

So make that a total of 4 colleges in the USA, and 5 campuses (Bastyr has 2 locations).

The last 2 are BINM (Boucher) and CCNM (Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine), both of which are in Canada.

Below are links each program and an AANMC map for more clarity.

How to Get Into an Accredited Naturopathic College

Naturopathic program prerequisites vary but they do not require a specific test pending acceptance such as the MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test) which is required for those who wish to get into med school.

We’re curious if you think that’s fair or if you think those entering licensed naturopathy should also have to take a test similar to the MCAT. After all, licensed naturopaths are seeking the same rights as medical doctors in every state. So, what’s ‘fair’?

Do you think licensed naturopaths should also have to qualify themselves in this manner?  Let us know in the comment section. Now let’s get into the topic of education. 

Explore the links below to see each accredited naturopathic college prerequisite and admission requirements.

Here is a helpful link from the CNME on accredited programs for becoming a licensed naturopathic physician. 

For a comparison, Indiana University medical school prerequisites:

  • minimum cumulative and science GPA of 3.6, 30 MCAT

For comparison, here are the requirements for the so called ‘lowly’ PA , —not our thoughts! We love our PAs, but they work so hard for where they are! It is not easy. Here’s IU’s physician assistant program reqs. 

As you will see, it’s very stringent and they do not get the respect they deserve!

Keep in mind, PA’s never become qualified to practice medicine without supervision of a medical doctor.

It’s because they never do a residency.

A physician assistant is someone who can treat, diagnose, and prescribe like a nurse practitioner IF they are working under the jurisdiction of a licensed medical doctor, but not otherwise.

Every year, hundreds apply to various programs across the country, and hundreds are denied. It’s very tough to get into, and they don’t even get independent prescriptive rights, etc.

We show this for comparison to the licensed naturopathy entry requirements – and to show you why critics of licensed naturopathy take issue educationally speaking.

You see, medical doctors and the conventional medical industry are not really fond of the encroaching licensing of naturopaths.

We don’t necessarily agree or disagree. We just want to put it out there that licensed naturopathy is not necessarily well respected in the arena of conventional medicine, despite good intentions. And on paper many say that it “isn’t fair” to NPs, PAs, MDs, etc. 

So here are some additional requirements for the PA: 

  • medical assistant
  • bachelor degree from an accredited college
  • minimum cumulative and pre-req in math / science w/a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • nurse (LPN or RN) 500 clinical hours volunteering or in a career as a medical assistant, military medic, corpsman, or technician
  • EMT / Paramedic
  • radiology tech
  • physical therapist
  • respiratory therapist
  • nursing assistant


  • Human Anatomy w/lab
  • Human Physiology w/lab
  • Microbiology w/lab
  • General Chemistry I w/lab
  • General Chemistry II w/lab
  • Organic Chemistry w/lab
  • General Biology I w/lab
  • General Biology II w/lab
  • Statistics or Biostatistics
  • Psychology
  • Medical Terminology (1+ credit hours)
  • personal statement
  • letters of reference
  • GRE

Difficulty getting in? Almost impossible.

Overview: ND Programs

  • bachelor degree, preferably science
  • generally a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and 2.0 on science course pre-reqs
  • MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test) not required
  • difficulty gaining acceptance into a program: unknown
  • naturopathic physicians are trained as generalists and do not choose a medical specialty like 3rd year med students.
  • residency, not required (except in Utah), but strongly encouraged when possible
  • NPLEX (Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examination) taken after graduation to gain licensure in 17 states where applicable & 2 US Territories (for more resources about naturopathic  

Overview: MD Programs

  • bachelor degree, preferably science
  • required minimum GPA usually 3.6 or above
  • required MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test) above a certain score (with the exception of a few colleges)
  • difficulty gaining acceptance into a program: incredibly competitive
  • choose a medical speciality to focus on during 3rd year of med school
  • mandatory 3-8 year minimum term residency depending on specialty*
  • please read more about what a residency is at another post here
  • required to take the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) during residency to gain licensure to practice legally in the USA

THe AANMC says their programs are on par with that of medical doctors. —Need I say, not everyone agrees!

Academic & Clinical Hour Comparisons of MD’s & ND’s

According to AANMC, naturopathic physicians are ‘rigorously trained’. The AANMC even goes so far as to say “Some member schools in the AANMC actually require more hours of basic and clinical science than many top allopathic medical schools.” Below is a graph comparing various types of doctors and education hours. The AANMC compares ND curriculum to that of an MD here and below is a graph from their website.

Regarding the graph below, please see this controversial guest post at Science Based Medicine from the author from a woman who went to Bastyr and no longer practices naturopathy due to her doubt on its legitimacy.

Accredited Naturopathic College Curriculum & Coursework

Programs vary widely school to school. To view specific course outlines for the different available naturopathic programs, click on the links below.

Bastyr University

BINM (Boucher Institute of Natural Medicine

NCNM (National College of Natural Medicine)

CCNM (Canadian College of Natural Medicine)

SCNM (Southwest College of Natural Medicine)

NUHS (National University of Health Sciences) Naturopathic Course Outline & Course Descriptions

Here is a sample of the coursework for a naturopathic program directly from the AANMC website,

First two years naturopaths receive a concentration in:

  • Biochemistry
  • Human Physiology
  • Histology
  • Anatomy
  • Marco & Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Human Pathology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

And their last two years, students “intern in clinical settings under the close supervision of licensed professionals.” Coursework includes:

  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Botanical Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
  • Lifestyle Counseling
  • Massage
  • Physical Medicine
  • Hydrotherapy

The AANMC says this “results in a well rounded medical education.” 

Doctors & Residency

*Many people do not know what a postgraduate doctor residency actually is.

By the third year of medical school, a doctor has chosen their specialty – meaning whether they want to work in surgery, emergency room, gastroenterology, or psychiatry for example.

Residency is period of advanced medical training and education, usually between 3-8 years, depending on the doctor’s chosen specialty, and consists of supervised practice in a real life clinical setting such as a hospital ER or a rural clinic.  

It is usually a very challenging time, and incredibly rigorous by the most stringent standards. While recent changes now require a doctor in residency to work no more than 80 scheduled hours a week, a visit to any student doctor forum will reveal some student doctors still clock in excess of 80 hours per week.

During this time a new doctor is paid what can average to be minimum wage considering hours invested while their student loans accrue enormous interest. For more info on residency and debt, read this Resident Salary & Debt Report.

A residency is mandatory to becoming a licensed medical doctor. Doctors have on average about 8-12 years from start to finish of school and combined residency requirements in their chosen specialty.

Doctors also have the highest suicide rates of any profession. Some reform may be helpful so that doctors can have more time for family and self-care (exercise + proper diet).

After considering and researching med school, the facts are that most doctors have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to get where they are. It’s not their fault that the AMA (American Medical Association) sets questionable educational standards with a poor focus on prevention and non-invasive treatment options.

Their education is oversaturated with pharmaceuticals and ‘fix-it-with-a-pill’ medical culture. On top of all of that, doctors now have to pay high costs of education, malpractice insurance, and deal with insurance billing companies and tons of paperwork that may factor in their own health issues mentioned above.

Rarely do doctors simply treat, diagnose and prescribe, but rather they are more employees of hospitals and insurance companies than the romanticized doctors of yore. They are also limited usually in their scope of practice in that they can offer ‘standards of care’ —getting ‘too’ alternative may land them in court and jeopardize their license.

We learned about ‘standards of care’ via Lynne Farrow’s book, The Iodine Crisis, as it relates to breast cancer, wherein she discusses many fallacies with conventional cancer care treatment ‘myths’ —which is really quite chilling in and of itself that doctors ‘have to do what everyone else is doing’ or risk all of their hard work going down the drain. 

In our section on naturopathic oncology for our TND program, we study several doctors who did just that, like Dr. Simoncini and Dr. Hoxsey. In any case, there are now many functional medicine doctors, such as Chris Kresser (chiropractor) and Dr. David Brownstein MD who are successfully working ‘outside the box’. 

Naturopathic Physician Residency

To residency or not to residency, that is the question.

Allopathic (regular/mainstream) doctoral programs are mandated and regulated by conventional medical schools which require postgraduate doctors to have a residency in order to become licensed.

Naturopathic residencies are not required with the exception of Utah. Why is this? Naturopathic residencies are not currently required or funded by federal government. It should also be noted that all naturopaths are trained as generalists.

But for those naturopathic graduates that desire to have a residency, CNME (Council on Naturopathic Medical Education) offers this page as a guide.

In any case, it does not appear that naturopathic physician residencies are as time consuming and ultimately demanding as that of an postgraduate allopathic physician.

What is a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor (TND)

Traditional naturopaths are individuals who have acquired knowledge of herbal medicine (or other therapies, such as aromatherapy, homeopathy, etc.

Their knowledge is often passed down generationally, learned through apprenticeship, or autodidactic (self-learned) through a passion or hobby, while others may have studied an online program of various types and courses.

Remote study/distance learning naturopathic programs often provide a course list of suggested study and corresponding texts, a broad timeline, and upon completion provide an award or certificate. With the award or certificate, students receive a title which depends on the program they choose.

It should be noted that none of these programs are accredited regionally (but some may be accredited by 3rd party organizations), nor are their credits transferable to an accredited naturopathic program, or any college 99% of the time. It does not mean that these online studies are not valuable for the right type of student.

There are many reasons why someone would study traditional naturopathy from a non-accredited distance learning program. Many would be students do not reside in an area close to an accredited program, or they may not be able to afford it or have the time.

Many others have no desire to practice acute care, and prefer to consult with others holistically as a supplement to conventional medical care.  

Please share your compliments below. Why did you choose an accredited naturopathic college or a non-accredited distance learning program? What worked best for you in your situation?

At the time of this writing, November 21st, 2015, 17 states in the US and five Canadian provinces now require licensure of naturopathic doctors/physician, or the right to use ND after your name. Currently, 17 states, five Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands all have laws regulating naturopathic doctors (NDs). Please note: This article was updated on April 6th, 2020.

Requirements for Licensure?

  1. graduate from a four-year, accredited residential naturopathic medical school
  2. pass the (NPLEX) in order to receive a license in states where applicable

Here are a few interesting articles: 

How to Practice as Licensed Naturopathic Physician in States That Don’t Offer Licensure

Naturopathic Physicians Pushing for State Licensure

Should Alaska’s Naturopaths Be Allowed to Prescribe Medication?

Natural Doctors Face Skepticism

What Can Traditional Naturopaths Do

Do you agree that the programs, training, and education for licensed naturopathic physicians are equal to and / or surpass that of conventional med school requirements?

Do you think the licensed naturopathic career path is superior to the that of the traditional naturopath and conventional med school? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.