what does a naturopathic doctor do

What does a Naturopathic Doctor do?

Disclaimer: The information on our website is provided for general information purposes only. We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on our website for any purpose. Any reliance on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk and we are not liable for any damages or losses arising out of or resulting from your reliance on any information contained on our website.

A naturopathic doctor is a medically trained doctor who has graduated from a 4-year naturopathic medical school. Additionally, they work with patients in all facets of family health to identify the fundamental causes of disease. Then, they offer evidence-informed therapies to help ease the body’s ability to restore and maintain optimal health. Next, watch a video to learn what a naturopathic doctor does:

How to Become a Naturopathic Doctor

what does a naturopathic doctor do

Naturopathic medication is a different form of primary health care. In fact, they use natural therapies to improve the wellbeing of a patient while assisting with disease prevention. Naturopathic medicine strives to find the primary cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing only on symptomatic treatment.

To attend a naturopathic medical school, applicants earn an bachelor’s degree with courses similar to those needed for medical school. After completing a bachelor’s degree, you must apply for a CNME (Council on Naturopathic Medical Education) naturopathic accredited program. Generally, naturopathic schools want to see that you have spent time observing (shadowing) a naturopath or holistic healer. Be sure to document this observation time so you have documentation. Both hands-on and observational health care experience is significant.

Naturopathic schools seek applicants who are curious, capable, flexible, and imaginative and have empathy and integrity. Because of this, students should also have a strong belief in the effectiveness of natural medicine. As some of the healing techniques are based on traditional healing methods, a healthy respect for the array of cultures in the world is also needed.

Naturopathic medical schools are four-year programs that require all the same basic sciences as a traditional medical school but students also study holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy. Students usually must undergo a four-year schooling in homeopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling. Naturopathic doctors must also pass a board exam (the NPLEX) to be qualified for licensure at the end of their training. Graduates are qualified to practice in any state in which they meet the licensing requirements. Not all states, however, permit naturopathic physicians to be fully licensed but the field is fast gaining recognition and acceptance. Even in states where naturopathic is not entirely recognized, you can still practice but will be restricted to the treatments allowed by the state.

Job Description of a Naturopathic Doctor

A naturopathic doctor is a primary health care provider of naturopathic medicine. They use complementary and alternative therapies together with mainstream medical practice with the aim of treating primary causes of disease while stimulating the body’s own healing abilities. Natural remedies are commonly preferred in favor of pharmaceuticals; a holistic approach is used and several physicians advocate conventional treatments together with naturopathic ones. A naturopathic physician will refer patients to other practitioners if treatment is beyond the naturopathic scope of practice.

Naturopathic doctors work in community health centers, private practices, hospitals, and clinics and can provide individual and family health care. Among the most common illnesses they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Naturopathic doctors can also perform minor surgeries, namely removing cysts or stitching up superficial wounds. However, they don’t practice major surgery. Naturopathic doctors are trained to make the most of prescription drugs, even though the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.

A naturopathic doctor may also use diagnostic tests to fully understand their patient’s health condition. Aside from taking time out to carefully and wholly assess a patient’s source of problem, naturopathic doctors understand and speak the language of conventional medicine. They can diagnose just like medical doctors do yet bring to the patient a whole new arsenal of treatments and insights. Instead of waiting for a disease to the surface, naturopathic doctors work toward it off before it happens.

Naturopathic Doctor Career Video Transcript

Naturopathic doctors and medical doctors share many similarities but have a different approach to medical care for patients. While naturopathic doctors, or NDs, are educated in the same biomedical sciences as medical doctors, NDs use holistic and nontoxic approaches to healing, emphasizing disease prevention, nutrition, and wellness. While medical doctors emphasize treating symptoms, NDs focus on treating the root causes of illness and enlisting the body’s self-healing abilities.

NDs treat patients of all ages, from pediatrics to geriatrics. As with other doctors, NDs interview patients to document symptoms, review a patient’s medical history and make their diagnosis, recommendation and prescription. Instead of prescription drugs, NDs often use naturally occurring remedies that can be found in foods, herbs, and vitamin supplements. They also use alternative therapeutic regimens such as traditional Indian Ayurvedic- or Chinese medicine, homeopathy, mindfulness training, and biofeedback. To clarify a diagnosis, they may order diagnostic procedures and lab tests from other professionals and consult with other healthcare professionals as needed.

Naturopathic doctors work in private practice, clinics, and community health centers that offer other alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic. They attend four-year, graduate-level, naturopathic medical schools where they study anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, pathology, diagnosis, and holistic and nontoxic therapies. Currently, state licensure is available in some states, while other states require NDs to practice under another medical degree.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physicians and Surgeons.

National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1199.04. O*NET OnLine.

AANMC. What is Naturopathic Medicine?.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

Scroll to Top