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Washington State Creates New Board to Oversee Naturopaths

 In Naturopathic News

SEATTLE – April 13, 2011 – Gov. Christine Gregoire today signed into law a bill to create a state Board of Naturopathy.

Under the new law (House Bill 1181), which goes into effect July 22, 2011 Washington will create a Board of Naturopathy to regulate and license all practicing naturopathic physicians (NDs) in Washington.


Prior to passage of the legislation, naturopathic medicine was managed by the Washington Department of Health with input from a naturopathic advisory committee. The new law transfers certain duties from the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Board of Naturopathy and repeals the naturopathic advisory committee.


The Board of Naturopathy will consist of seven members appointed by the governor to four-year terms: five licensed naturopaths and two members of the public. The board will have authority over the practice of naturopathy, such as licensing, discipline and professional qualifications of naturopathic physicians.


“The creation of the Board of Naturopathy increases oversight of naturopathic medicine in Washington for better public safety and higher-quality naturopathic care,” says Dr. Douglas Lewis, President of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP), the professional association of licensed naturopathic physicians in the state of Washington. “It also brings peer-review expertise to the Department of Health and allows more efficiency in managing our rapidly growing profession.


Naturopathic physicians (NDs) practice naturopathic medicine, a comprehensive healthcare system with a unique philosophy that combines traditional, natural therapeutics with modern, scientific medicine. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, rather than just the symptoms of illness.


“Our organization is dedicated to educating Washington residents about the benefits of natural, effective, holistic medicine,” says WANP Executive Director Dr. Robert May. “We believe that health promotion and disease prevention are just as important as diagnosis and treatment, and that there are effective non-drug treatments for a wide range of health conditions. We plan to continue our work with businesses, healthcare and educational institutions, and other organizations to further the health and well-being of Washington residents by increasing awareness of the value of naturopathic medicine.”


Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) and Rep. Tami Green (D-Lakewood) were the prime sponsors of the bill, which passed by a unanimous vote in the House and by a vote of 47-1 in the Senate. The WANP has lobbied for this legislation since 2008.


The WANP is the largest state organization of its kind in the United States. The state of Washington has more NDs practicing within its borders than any other state, and about 20 percent of the total licenses issued within the United States are held by NDs in Washington.


A Brief History of the WANP


Originally named the Washington State Naturopathic Association (WSNA), the WANP was founded in 1934. Washington state began formally licensing “naturopaths” in 1957. That year, the WSNA was renamed the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Prior to that time, naturopaths had been licensed in Washington as sanipractors under the Drugless Healers Act of 1919.


In 1987, a sunset review expanded the scope of practice of naturopaths to include diagnostics and all natural treatments, and re-licensed naturopaths as Naturopathic Doctors.


In 1993, new state rules allowed naturopathic physicians to prescribe a variety of legend drugs, including antibiotics. Every Category of Provider legislation, passed by the Washington Legislature in 1995, requires state health plans to contract with naturopathic physicians. In 2007, naturopathic physicians received authority to prescribe all legend drugs and several controlled substances, as well as the ability to perform expanded office procedures and injection therapies.


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About the WANP

The Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP) is the professional association of licensed naturopathic physicians (NDs) in the state of Washington. Incorporated in 1934, the WANP represents the interests of licensed NDs by promoting an environment in which naturopathic medicine is widely recognized, understood and accessible throughout Washington state. The largest state organization of its kind in the United States, the WANP strives to improve the healthcare system as well as the health and well-being of Washington residents. For more information, visit www.wanp.org.


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