What Do Naturopathic Doctors Do?

Like other primary care providers, naturopathic doctors diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions. They use natural therapies along with medical and clinical science to emphasize disease prevention and help the body heal itself. NDs typically spend more time with each of their patients than their counterparts in conventional medicine, allowing them to form deeper and more meaningful patient-provider relationships to determine the root cause of illness.

NDs diagnose patients by focusing on the underlying causes of disease and promote self-healing and wellness through therapies that integrate conventional, scientific and empirical methodology with the inherent abilities of the natural world to provide a foundation of healing and wellbeing. Naturopathic therapies are supported by research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from a variety of disciplines, including (but not limited to) naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, clinical nutrition, psychology and spirituality.

Discover what you can do as a naturopathic doctor – explore careers, salaries and more on the blog



Are naturopathic doctors the same as naturopaths?

According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), traditional naturopaths and licensed naturopathic doctors both aim to identify and prevent the underlying causes of disease, but the two titles are not interchangeable. A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) must complete rigorous scientific, medical and naturopathic training to diagnose patients and prescribe treatment. Traditional naturopaths are not trained or qualified to do either.

What’s the Difference Between a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and a Naturopath?

Licensed ND


Medically speaking, what can they do?

Primary care physician who is trained to diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness

Can serve as a health consultant or wellness coach, but may not diagnose or treat illness

What type of education do they get?

Over 4,100 hours of instruction

Classes offered mostly online

Are they accredited programs?

Graduates from a four-year, in-residence doctoral degree program accredited by the council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is recognized by the US Department of Education

No standard curriculum, and the schools are not accredited by CNME

What kind of clinical training is required?

1,200 hours of supervised, hands-on clinical training

No standardized, on-site clinical training

What can they do after graduation?

Can work in private or group practice, integrative oncology care, hospitals, medical schools, and some government organizations

Not eligible to take the NPLEX national exams or obtain license to practice in the U.S.

Can they see clients?

Are able to see clients in unregulated states and provinces

Are able to see clients in unregulated states and provinces

Naturopathic diagnostic and therapeutic modalities include:

  • Clinical laboratory diagnostic testing
  • Nutritional medicine
  • Botanical medicine
  • Naturopathic physical medicine
  • Public health measures
  • Minor surgery
  • Homeopathy
  • Prescription medication
  • Intravenous and injection therapy
  • Counseling

 Check out our blog to learn more about some of the many modalities of Naturopathic Medicine.

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ND vs MD: What’s the difference?

For those who want to provide hands-on primary patient care, the decision between becoming an ND, MD/DO, or nurse practitioner can be difficult. While the three careers have much in common, some key elements of practice and education define their major differences. Read more on the blog. 

Naturopathic Doctor (ND)

[MKG] [PROGRAM] [EBOOK] ND - Chapter 1 ND Image

Combining the wisdom of nature and the rigors of modern science, NDs are primary care providers who diagnose, treat and manage patients while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind and spirit.

Medical/Osteopathic Doctor

[MKG] [PROGRAM] [EBOOK] ND - Chapter 1 M/OD Image

Medical doctors (MD/DO) are physicians, specialists or surgeons who take a biological approach to healing, utilizing various tests and techniques to diagnose patient symptoms and develop a treatment plan to address the disease.

Nurse Practitioner

[MKG] [PROGRAM] [EBOOK] ND - Chapter 1 NP Image

Nurse practitioners (NPs) blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management. They bring a comprehensive perspective and more personal touch to the care they provide.

Do NDs, MDs/DOs, and NPs ever work together?

NDs view natural remedies as complementary as well as primary. NDs cooperate with other medical professionals, referring patients to (and receiving patients from) conventional medical doctors, surgeons and other specialists.

Primary Care Training

Medical Assessment & Diagnosis
Patient Management
Communication & Collaboration
Career Development & Practice Management
Systems-based Practice
Practice- Based Learning, Research & Scholarship 


Required Education & Training

Educated in many of the same basic sciences as an MD/DO, naturopathic medical training includes basic sciences, as well as conventional and functional diagnostic methods and natural and conventional treatments. Like the other two primary care paths, NDs must pass rigorous professional board exams before they can be licensed by a state or jurisdiction.

In addition to a standard medical curriculum, NDs are trained in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, psychology and counseling.

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