Naturopathic doctor (ND)

Naturopathic doctors often combine different complementary therapies, such as massage, herbal medicine, or diet, to help the body heal itself and stay well. Naturopaths do not prescribe drugs or perform surgeries, but they may refer people to a medical doctor or specialist when necessary. In some states, naturopaths have a limited ability to prescribe medicines.

A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) attends a 4-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in the same basic sciences as a medical doctor (MD). However, the ND also studies alternative approaches to therapy, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and bodywork. Naturopathic doctors do not usually continue with postgraduate training, such as internships and residency programs.

After completing a 4-year naturopathic medical program, an ND is eligible for a licensing examination in a state with a licensing board and standards of practice. NDs are licensed in many states but also practice in other states without official government sanction.

However, without licensing standards, individuals with little or no formal education may proclaim themselves naturopathic doctors without medical school education or board testing.

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

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