Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you need to know about Naturopathic Medicine

A service for consumers from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), our Frequently Asked Question series answers common inquiries about naturopathic medicine and treatments.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How are naturopathic doctors trained, educated, and licensed?

Accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools are four-year, in-residence, hands-on medical programs consisting of a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training. During naturopathic medical school, students are educated in the biomedical sciences as well as the latest advances in science in combination with natural approaches to therapy. They also study disease prevention and clinical techniques...   Read More


What are Prerequisites for admission to a naturopathic medical school?

Prior to admission into an accredited naturopathic medical school, the typical entering student has completed three years of pre-medical training and earned a bachelor of science degree. Students are expected to have completed courses in English and the humanities as well as math, physics, and psychology, with a strong emphasis on chemistry and biology. In addition to prerequisite course work, prospective students must demonstrate appropriate...  Read More


What is the difference between a licensed naturopathic doctor and an unlicensed naturopath?

In some states with laws regulating naturopathic doctors, the use of the term “naturopath” or “naturopathic physician” by anyone other than a licensed naturopathic doctor is prohibited. However, not all states regulate naturopathic doctors and not all states that do protect the term “naturopath.” Unlicensed naturopaths can have varied levels of education and experience, often from a purely online or correspondence format. Such education is not accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and does not qualify students to take the NPLEX examination or apply for licensure in any regulated jurisdiction in North America. Be aware...   Read More


What advanced nutrition training do naturopathic doctors receive?

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) recognize nutrition as a cornerstone of health. During medical school, ND students complete an average of 155 classroom hours of nutrition education. Coursework is similar to that taught to registered dietitians, with a focus on primary outpatient care. NDs’ understanding of food as medicine, passion for nutrition, and rigorous nutrition training enables them to go beyond offering patients dietary guidelines. Naturopathic doctors provide individualized nutrition assessment...   Read More


What advanced training do NDs have in behavioral medicine?

Naturopathic doctors are trained to utilize a broad range of therapies including dietary and lifestyle interventions, stress reduction, psychotherapy, and counseling. During medical school, NDs complete an average of 150 classroom hours of behavioral medicine education. They have the knowledge and experience to empower patients to make and sustain...   Read More


Who ensures the quality of naturopathic medical education?

Accreditation is an external peer review and regulatory process for higher education. Its goal is to ensure high-quality education and training in various disciplines, including medical education, in order to protect the interests of students and the public, and to ensure safe and effective practice. Accreditation is usually carried out by private, non-profit organizations that are “recognized” (i.e., approved) by the U.S. Department of Education. Naturopathic medical programs that award the naturopathic doctoral degree (ND degree) are accredited by...   Read More

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct practice of medicine that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve outcomes while lowering health care costs. Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness, restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person's inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans...  Read More


Under what circumstances should I choose a naturopathic doctor?

1. You want a doctor who will treat all of you, not just your illness. 2. You want personalized treatment. 3. You want to treat the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms. 4...  Read More


How should I choose a naturopathic doctor?

The most important criteria in selecting a naturopathic doctor are that the doctor 1) has a naturopathic medical degree earned from an accredited, four-year, in-residence, naturopathic medical college and 2) has passed rigorous board exams as part of a licensure or certification process. Licensed naturopathic doctors work in a variety of clinical settings, including...  Read More


How does naturopathic medicine lower health care costs?

1. Address the root causes of illness. 2. Offer less expensive diagnosis and treatment. 3. Reduce the need for expensive surgical procedures. 4. Decrease costs associated with...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors and conventionally trained doctors work together?

There are a number of situations where naturopathic and conventionally trained doctors working together deliver care for some patients. Examples include: people with one or more chronic disease, people with cancer, people seeking relief from chronic pain, people with symptoms such as...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors empower people to take control of their own health?

Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) believe that an informed patient is ready to take an active role in the healing process. Naturopathic doctors work to explain each health concern you have and each approach that will be utilized to help address it. NDs aim to answer your questions so you can...   Read More


Why are a growing number of medical doctors (MDs) working collaboratively with naturopathic doctors (NDs)?

Conventionally trained medical doctors find that naturopathic doctors have education, training and a practice approach that enhances care and expands treatment options for patients. Specifically 1) NDs take a whole body approach to health, 2) NDs prioritize natural therapies, 3) NDs have rigorous training in clinical nutrition, 4) NDs have advanced training in...   Read More

Is naturopathic medicine safe?

Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve health outcomes. Numerous research studies of naturopathic treatments for common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic low back pain, and anxiety have shown that naturopathic medicine is both safe and effective. Significant research shows that...   Read More


How does naturopathic medicine lower health care costs?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct practice of medicine that emphasizes wellness and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically. Licensed naturopathic doctors are known for following a unique Therapeutic Order, an approach that identifies the natural order in which naturopathic therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for harm. Here are eight ways naturopathic medicine lowers health care costs...   Read More

How do naturopathic doctors help people manage chronic pain without highly addictive opioids?

As a medical discipline that emphasizes a holistic approach and natural treatments, naturopathic medicine offers safe and effective alternatives to highly addictive drugs for managing chronic pain. Naturopathic doctors are also trained to develop personalized pain management treatment plans. These plans take into account each individual’s lifestyle, nutrition, work and leisure activities, current and past stressors, and relevant previous injuries. The plans use various...   Read More


How does naturopathic medicine support breast cancer prevention and treatment?

When treating breast cancer patients, licensed naturopathic doctors develop personalized, whole-person treatment plans taking into consideration the stage and type of breast cancer that a person has, their physical and emotional constitution, lifestyle habits, and the conventional therapies being received. Specifically, naturopathic doctors...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors treat diabetes?

Licensed naturopathic doctors are trained in both conventional and integrative approaches to treating all types of diabetes, including types 1 and 2, gestational diabetes, and prediabetes. A naturopathic treatment approach for diabetes includes a combination of...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors help prevent and treat cervical dysplasia and Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Focusing on the whole person, naturopathic doctors take the time to identify and address the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that cause cervical dysplasia. Naturopathic doctors who specialize in women’s health offer you and your sexual partner both preventive education and natural treatments for dysplasia and HPV. Naturopathic doctors offer natural therapies to treat dysplasia and HPV directly, and to help the body’s immune system fight the virus. Nutrient and botanical therapies may include...   Read More


Why do naturopathic doctors spend between one and two hours with patients in an appointment?

In the United States, consultation time in a conventional doctor’s appointment averages about 20 minutes. In contrast, naturopathic doctors (NDs) spend between one and two hours face-to-face with patients in an initial appointment, and 30 to 60 minutes in subsequent appointments. There are many factors that affect your health. Naturopathic doctors, who are trained to treat the whole person, take the time to explore as many of them as possible. The extra time naturopathic doctors spend with you is often focused on...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors prevent and treat heart disease?

Heart disease, the leading killer for both men and women in the U.S., is largely preventable if caught and treated early. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) excel at preventing and treating cardiovascular disease because they focus on identifying the underlying causes of disease and empowering patients to make enduring lifestyle changes to restore and maintain their health. Here are six key focuses for naturopathic prevention and treatment of heart disease...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors address fertility and infertility?

Trained to treat the whole person, naturopathic doctors (NDs) have helped countless men and women resolve fertility challenges and conceive easily, safely, and cost-effectively. With a focus on uncovering what is preventing a couple from conceiving, naturopathic doctors address underlying causes of infertility whenever possible. Naturopathic doctors begin by assessing...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors help women during perimenopause?

Aiming to help strengthen the foundation of a woman’s health so that she can thrive through menopause and age optimally, NDs utilize a large spectrum of treatment modalities including nutrition, nutraceuticals, botanical medicine, lifestyle counseling, hormone therapy and, at times, select pharmaceuticals. Medicinal plants that contain phytoestrogens may also be used, including...   Read More


How do naturopathic doctors help address men’s health?

A visit with an ND might appeal more to men who have avoided doctor visits because NDs prioritize natural, non-prescription drug approaches, focus on patient education, and are trained to empower patients to make lifestyle changes for optimal health. Some key areas of men's health where NDs specialize includes prostrate cancer, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain...   Read More