06/07/2013 04:21 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2013

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Regulating Naturopathic Doctors

On June 5, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill that allows qualified naturopathic doctors to register in that state, making the current number of states where naturopathic doctors can practice legally, with all of the responsibilities and privileges that implies, up to 17, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With his signature on the bill, consumers in the majestic state of Colorado now have an expanded choice in health care providers and can seek out the care of doctor-level practitioners of natural medicine.

Representative Joann Ginal (D-Ft. Collins), the bill's lead sponsor, said, "I am proud that Colorado has taken the lead in ensuring that well trained naturopathic doctors, appropriately regulated, become a viable health care option for the citizens of our state."

And Senator Linda Newell (D-Littleton), Senate bill sponsor, shared that "naturopathic doctors are going to be a key component in health care, saving the state millions of dollars through their focus on disease prevention and natural treatment, such as nutrition, lifestyle counseling and botanical medicine."

Working collaboratively with other medical providers, naturopathic doctors fill an important gap in the health care system. With an eye to prevention and extensive training in therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle modification and more, NDs answer tough questions patients have. Some NDs work as comprehensive care providers while others offer complementary care. With a shortage of doctors across the country and an aging population, with many people on multiple medications and with extensive and often conflicting information on the Internet, patients seek the expertise of naturopathic doctors to help use natural medicine approaches effectively and safely. Now, in Colorado, consumers can expect that those who call themselves naturopathic doctors have had a four-year, in-residence, full-time medical education, including extensive training in the clinical setting, and are appropriately credentialed by both state and national overseeing bodies.

As a founder of and current board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Doctors, I applaud the effort of Coloradans, Colorado NDs and of Governor Hickenlooper for understanding the relevance of his bill to the health and safety of the people of Colorado.

I personally live in Massachusetts but practice in Connecticut, as Massachusetts does not yet license naturopathic doctors. Both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed our bill last year but Governor Patrick did not sign it; the bill is currently under review and look forward to a positive outcome this year, so that we can join the other New England States in welcoming NDs to the area. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut all license NDs.

For a complete list see here:

To find a naturopathic doctor near your, see here:

For further information on the training and education of naturopathic doctors see here:

Many other states are also in legislative efforts to license NDs, which makes good sense from both a public health and an economic point of view. Americans deserve the right to choose the kind of doctor they want to see, and many would like the opportunity to work with a naturopathic doctor side by side with other state of the art medical care providers.

For more by Amy Rothenberg, ND, click here.

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