State enforces licensing for naturopathic docs

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Colorado is going through changes as the health-care market opens up with promises of low-cost health insurance.

But there are also newly regulated forms of perhaps lesser known medical practices that were put in place earlier this year. In June, Colorado state legislature enacted HB 13-1111 which now regulates naturopathy, an alternative form of medicine that still connects with conventional medicine, but focuses more on environmental and psychological factors that may attribute to symptoms felt by the patient. Typically, certain illnesses are treated with supplements and changes in diet.

Colorado is now among 18 states in the U.S. and its territories in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that have licensing laws.

The bill requires doctors practicing naturopathy to register for a license on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Physicians must have a bachelor’s degree, and in addition, a four-year degree from a naturopathic medical school registered with the U.S. Department of Education. They must also pass a naturopathic licensing examination. The board of naturopathic medicine located in the department of regulatory agencies will be designated to regulate naturopathic doctors and adopting rules.

The U.S. Senate passed resolution 221 which designates the week of Oct. 7 through 13 as “Naturopathic Medicine Week” in which the Senate “recognizes the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care,” and encourages citizens to learn more about naturopathy.

Dr. Kaycie Rosen Grigel, ND in Golden has been seeing patients for seven years in Colorado, after practicing for three years in Alaska. In light of regulation for her profession, she wants to help raise awareness this week about the benefits of naturopathy.

“How we live in the world affects how our bodies manifest symptoms,” Dr. Grigel said. “It’s really important to me to have a relationship with my patients where I understand the whole context of their health.”

Grigel has 500 patients under her practice who have various illnesses and ailments such as arthritis, head and neck pain, diabetes, and digestive problems.

With regulation, Dr. Grigel predicts a possible shift in coverage in which insurance companies may extend their coverage to naturopathic medicine.

“In the past, I’ve spoken with different companies about being on their networks, but the tough thing in Colorado is there is no way to regulate the providers that were asking out to their networks,” she said. “So now there is.”

For more information on naturopathy medicine go to www.nccam.nih.gov/health/naturopathy. To find a nearby naturopathy provider, search on www.healthgrades.com.