What is a licensed naturopathic medical doctor?

Licensed naturopathic medical doctors are graduates of four-year naturopathic medical colleges and universities, pass a series of national board exams, and are accepted for licensure by state naturopathic medical boards. They perform physical exams, order lab work, prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, etc, but moreover, they evaluate the whole person and determine the root of the problem needing treatment. A good naturopath will try to avoid treatments which merely suppress the symptoms instead of stimulating true healing.

How do medical school curricula compare by education hours?

Source: Curriculum Directory of the Association of American Medical Colleges

ND Compare

NCNM = National College of Naturopathic Medicine; BASTYR = Bastyr University; SCNM = Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine


Is naturopathic medicine scientific?

Yes. Naturopathic medicine is based on a solid body of knowledge that has evolved and been refined over centuries. There have been over 5,000 randomized clinical studies in natural medicine published in the past 20 years. Just looking at the landmark publication the “Textbook of Natural Medicine” we find over 10,000 citations of peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the efficacy of naturopathic therapies.

What treatments do naturopathic physicians use?

Naturopathic physicians treat each patient individually combining different therapies. These include clinical nutrition, botanical & homeopathic medicine, physical medicine (manipulation, hydrotherapy, ultrasound, exercise physiology), Ayurvedic & Chinese medicine, minor surgery, counseling & stress management, natural childbirth, and pharmaceutical drugs.

Will my insurance pay for a naturopath?

Many insurance companies do pay, but it depends on your policy. Encourage your employer to offer plans covering naturopaths, if they don’t already. If you are self employed, consider looking at an insurance plan with a high deductible and a Health Savings Account to pay for integrative healthcare.

How is naturopathic medicine different from mainstream medicine?

Naturopathic physicians (N.D. or N.M.D.) treat patients as individuals by addressing the genetic, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. After finding the cause or causes of disease, the naturopathic physician uses the most logical, natural, and non-invasive therapies that facilitate the individual’s ability to heal. In contrast, mainstream medicine generally addresses and treats the symptoms of disease while using pharmaceuticals and surgery as the most common therapies.

Currently there are only 3,000 licensed naturopathic medical doctors while in comparison there are over 800,000 licensed MDs. Further, only fifteen states have been successful in establishing licensing laws, although all fifty U.S. states license MDs, DOs (osteopaths), and DCs (chiropractors). Therefore naturopathic physicians simply do not have the political clout or the marketing numbers to be an understood and respected household name.

How are naturopathic and mainstream physicians alike?

Admissions into both naturopathic and mainstream medical school require a bachelor’s degree with a standard pre-medical education. Each physician graduates from a four-year accredited medical school that includes a curriculum of biomedical sciences — anatomy, physiology, embryology, histology, biochemistry, pathology, and others. Clinical sciences are also shared including minor surgery and pharmacology. Finally, both kinds of physicians are licensed to diagnose disease, predict its course, and prescribe treatment.

What is the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

Homeopathy is one of the therapies that is used by naturopaths. The main therapies include diet, homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, physical manipulation, nutrition, counseling, IV therapies.

Homeopathy is a method of treating using the principle of like cures like. It is very complementary to other naturopathic treatments because the principles are very similar. Homeopathy looks at and treats the whole person and has a clearly defined goal of greater health.

Are naturopathic medical programs accredited?

Yes. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is the only accrediting body for naturopathic medical schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The CNME has accredited four naturopathic medical programs in the U.S. (as well as one in Canada). Upon successful completion of any of these programs a naturopathic physician is eligible to sit for board examinations that are required to gain state licensure.

What about correspondence education?

None of the CNME accredited institutions offer any portion of the naturopathic medical degree via correspondence and the graduates of non-accredited institutions are not eligible to sit for the national board exams.

What is the status of naturopathic medicine in other countries?

There is no exact counterpart to naturopathic medical education outside of North America. However, many naturopathic-type modalities are widely used and supported by foreign governments and insurance companies, especially in Europe and Asia.

How do naturopathic physicians interact with other health professionals?

All medically licensed physicians are bound by law to work together for the good of the patient. Effective naturopathic practices have extensive cross-referrals with other practitioners – including MD, DO, psychotherapists, etc.