5 Misconceptions About Naturopathic Doctors

Naturopathic medicine is leading the way in the trend toward more natural healing methods. However, while more and more people are learning the benefits of naturopathic medicine, naturopathic doctor, misconceptions about it remain. Below are some key misconceptions and corrections about naturopathic doctors.

Naturopathic Doctors Are Not as Educated as Medical Doctors

Licensed naturopathic doctors (ND) just like their medical doctor counterparts attend a four-year medical school. The graduate level program includes the same types of science-based classes that MDs receive.

Naturopathic medical students study holistic and natural approaches to health while focusing on disease prevention and wellness; and along with regular medical courses, students learn homeopathic and botanical medicine, psychology, counseling, and nutrition in the naturopathic curriculum.

Naturopathic Physicians Are Not Licensed

In states that regulate naturopathy, qualified applicants can become licensed the same as MDs. Before a naturopathic doctor can become licensed, they need to graduate from an accredited medical school. The Council of Naturopathic Medical Education oversees the accreditation for doctoral programs in the U.S. Currently; there are eight accredited naturopathic medical colleges in the U.S.

Eligible graduates of accredited schools take the licensing exam to become a licensed a naturopathic physician. Once licensed in states that regulate naturopathic medicine, naturopathic doctors can be primary or general practice doctors.

Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor Is Expensive

With the growing cost of healthcare, naturopathic medicine is becoming an option for many people because of its long-term health benefits. Since naturopathic medicine is about prevention and optimizing health, naturopathic medicine is an investment in both.

Some health insurance companies cover naturopathic visits making it more accessible to more people. The problem with insurance companies that provide coverage is that they don’t make the information well known. In states, where naturopathic physicians are licensed to practice medicine, insurance companies are required to cover services unless the policy specifically excludes naturopathic medicine.

The best way to know if an insurance company covers naturopathic medicine is to look for the “Definition of Physician” in the policy. If naturopathic doctors are listed under the definition, then your plan covers appointments with them. Most often seeing a naturopathic doctor is considered “out of network.” Call your insurance company to confirm whether naturopathic medicine is covered under your plan before making an appointment.

Many naturopathic physicians offer income-based sliding scales fees for people who pay out of pocket for their medical care. Also, every Accredited Naturopathic School of North America member provides free or reduced costs in their clinics for those in need.

Naturopathic Doctors Can’t or Won’t Write Prescriptions

Other misconceptions about naturopathic doctors are that they are against conventional medicines, can’t write prescriptions, or are unwilling to write prescriptions. Conventional pharmacology is part of the curriculum for naturopathic doctors. So, licensed naturopathic doctors are educated on pharmaceuticals and can prescribe medications.

Naturopathic medical students also study how conventional medicines intersect with herbs and supplements. Since naturopathic doctors treat the whole individual, they work with them for what is best for their health including prescription medicines if necessary.

You Can’t See a Naturopathic Doctor if under the Care of Medical Doctor

A choice between seeing a naturopathic or medical doctor is not necessary. A naturopathic doctor can be part of your healthcare team and work with a conventional doctor for overall health and to treat illnesses. This collaboration is part of a trend called integrative medicine. Integrative medicine is the union of traditional and alternative medicine. Research shows when naturopathic care is part of a conventional care patient outcome is better.

Licensed naturopathic doctors can take care of all the health needs of an individual that are typically seen in general medical practices. From pediatrics to geriatrics, naturopathic doctors learn how to care for all health issues. They can diagnose, treat, and prescribe the same as medical doctors. However, in their medical toolbox is the added knowledge of herbs and other natural remedies that have science behind them.


10 Common Myths About Naturopathic Medicine. Retrieved from https://aanmc.org/news/10-common-myths-about-naturopathic-medicine/.

Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Retrieved from https://cnme.org/about-cnme/#about.

Naturopathic Doctor Licensure. Retrieved from https://aanmc.org/resources/licensure/.

Professional Education. Retrieved from https://www.naturopathic.org/education.

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