Detoxification in naturopathic medicine: a survey

J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec;17(12):1175-80. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0572. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


Objectives: This study sought to assess the use of clinical detoxification therapies used by licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) in the United States.

Design: This was a qualitative, descriptive, online survey of a convenience sample of NDs.

Methods: An online survey was conducted of NDs who were licensed in the United States. Responses were analyzed descriptively regarding the use of clinical detoxification therapies. Respondents were recruited from a membership list provided by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and from alumni e-mail lists of Council of Naturopathic Medical Education accredited naturopathic medical schools.

Results: Surveys were sent out to 1442 e-mail addresses (261 were returned to sender); a total of 196 respondents completed the survey (16.6%). Ninety-two percent (92%) of respondents reported using clinical detoxification therapies. Over 75% of respondents utilized detoxification therapies primarily to treat patients for environmental exposures, general cleansing/preventive medicine, gastrointestinal disorders, and autoimmune disease. Regarding methods used, >75% reported using dietary measures, reducing environmental exposures, and using botanicals as detoxification therapies. Eighty-three percent (83%) of NDs surveyed reported using follow-up measurements to determine efficacy of detoxification therapies. The most common were patient symptom questionnaires (66%), patient medical histories (54%), and urinary provocative challenge testing (53%).

Conclusions: The majority of NDs responding to this survey reported routine use of clinical detoxification therapies to treat a range of medical conditions utilizing multiple therapeutic approaches. Although the majority of NDs reported using some follow-up measurements after detoxification therapy, few of these are an objective means to determine treatment efficacy. Further research is needed in the field of complementary and alternative medicine clinical detoxification to determine the safety and efficacy of these approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Diet Therapy
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Illness / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Naturopathy / methods*
  • Naturopathy / statistics & numerical data
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preventive Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Plant Extracts