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What is a naturopathic doctor?

Naturopathic doctors combine “the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science” (American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 2014). They use healing protocols that have minimal risks of harm to facilitate the body’s natural tendency towards healing. The naturopathic doctor will help you identify and remove causes of disease, and barriers that may prevent you from overcoming the disease. Naturopathic doctors work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, and community health centers throughout the United States and Canada. They are trained to provide primary care. Some common ailments treated by naturopathic doctors include: chronic pain, allergies, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances (and menopause and infertility), obesity and diabetes, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Though the scope of practice varies by state, they are trained in the following modalities:

  • Botanical medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Chinese medicine and acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physical manipulation (much like chiropractic) and other physical therapies (ultrasound, cold laser, e-stim, microcurrent, etc)
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrient supplementation
  • IV nutrient administration
  • Minor superficial surgical procedures

Naturopathic medicine is based on 6 key principles

  • Vis Medicatrix Naturae- the healing power of nature

  • Tolle Causum- identify and treat the cause

  • Primum Non Nocere- first, do no harm

  • Tolle Totum- treat the whole person

  • Docere- doctor as teacher

  • Praevenire- prevention beats cure

Brief history of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine was influenced by a number of physicians, dating all the way back to Hippocrates (460-377 BC) and Paracelsus (1493-1541). Some of the most well-known contributors include:

  • Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1852)- father of modern hydrotherapy, utilized cold compresses and cold water for healing
  • Sebastian Kneipp (1824-1897)- most famous Nature Doctor, combined hydrotherapy with dietetics, botanical medicine and exercise
  • Benedict Lust (1872-1945)- father of naturopathy, founded the American School of Naturopathy in 1902
  • Henry Lindlahr (1862-1924)- published Natural Therapeutics, recognized food reactions, advocated rest and relaxation
  • Influenced by many other

After the War of 1812, conventional medicine began to flourish. Naturopathy began to decline in the mid-1900s. In a 25-year span, the number of medical schools decreased from 20+ down to 1, in 1975. This decline was a result of “miracle medicine” (including the advent of Aspirin), “scientific medicine” (including the publishing of the Journal of the American Medical Association), and the death of Benedict Lust, a pioneer in naturopathic medicine. A handful of naturopathic physicians have kept the flame alive. Naturopathic medicine is on the rise, as more and more patients develop frustration with the conventional medicine model of prescribing drugs and surgeries.

What should you expect at your first visit to a naturopathic doctor?

Your naturopathic doctor will spend plenty of time getting to know you and understanding your concerns. He/she will conduct a thorough medical history and appropriate physical exam at your first visit. Diagnostic labs and imaging may be ordered, as well as previous medical records. You doctor will study your case in detail to determine the root cause of your ailments. He/she will take the time to discuss this with you, and offer time for your questions. Initial treatments may begin at the first visit, and become more focused at follow-up visits, as the root cause of your ailments becomes uncovered, after gathering all of the diagnostic information. Your naturopathic doctor can diagnose the way MDs do, yet the naturopathic doctor has a whole host of treatments that an MD is not trained in- treatments that are effective in addressing the root cause of your symptoms.

For more information about Naturopathic Medicine, call us at 507.388.7488 or use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation with Dr. Kotulski.


Dr. Kotulski and Jodi Kunkel, ND believe in helping your body heal itself through conservative therapies, nutrition guidance, lifestyle modification and continued monitoring - without drugs or surgery.

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Between the Bridges Healing Center offers solutions to acute conditions (infections, neck and back pain, headaches, and joint and muscle pain); chronic conditions (IBS, osteoarthritis, heart and lung disease, diabetes); chronic complex conditions (obesity, autoimmune illnesses, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, diabesity, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s disease, cancer); endocrine imbalances; chronic fatigue; fibromyalgia; mental health imbalances; and nutritional needs associated with preconception, perinatal and postpartum, infant, childhood and adult stages. Between the Bridges Healing Center serves the Minneapolis area including Mankato, Rochester, Eau Claire, Saint Cloud, Willmar, New Ulm and St. Peter.