Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Are Naturopathic Doctors, NDs, real doctors?
A: To practice in Massachusetts, NDs must be graduates of one of four in-residence, doctoral-level naturopathic medical schools accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Graduates of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine are also eligible. These schools require more than 4,000 hours of education and training. We are educated in the same basic Western medical sciences as MDs, including physiology, microbiology, immunology, gastroenterology, obstetrics, and more, as well as areas specific to Naturopathic Medicine.
Q: What sets you apart from other types of doctors?
A: Naturopathic Doctors are distinguished by our unique approach to wellness. We seek to find and treat the underlying causes of illness, rather than simply managing symptoms. We respect and treat the whole person.
Q: What are some of the common treatment methods used by NDs?
A: Some NDs have general practices, while others specialize in one or two areas of Naturopathic Medicine. Though we practice in different ways, common tools of the profession include clinical nutrition, supplemental nutrients, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, and health counseling.
Q: If I choose to see an ND, do I have to give up my other doctor (MD or DO)?
A: Absolutely not. You can continue to see any doctor of your choosing, while also receiving care from an ND. Many families see Medical Doctors, Naturopathic Doctors, and other providers such as Chiropractors and Licensed Massage Therapists, depending on their individual needs. This is the new model of integrative medicine, as consumers and providers are realizing the benefits of both natural and conventional care.
Q: Will you refer me to a conventional doctor if necessary?
A: Yes. NDs refer patients to Medical Doctors, surgeons, specialists and emergency services when they are best suited for the task at hand. On the flip side, MDs, DOs, and others often refer patients to us for a variety of reasons.
Q: How much time can I expect to spend with an ND?
A: Extra time spent with patients is one of the hallmarks of Naturopathic Doctors. This reflects our belief that health is a product of physical, emotional, environmental, and other factors. In order to understand those factors and to create an individualized plan, good communication and plenty of face time are essential. An initial visit might last an hour or more, and follow-up visits usually last between 30 and 60 minutes.
Q: How many NDs practice around the country?
A: There are an estimated 4,400 licensed NDs, according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Naturopathic Doctors are currently licensed in 17 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and five Canadian provinces.
Q: Why do people seek treatment from NDs?
People see NDs for a wide variety of reasons. Many individuals and families work with NDs for their general healthcare needs. Others have turned to NDs when their symptoms and health issues have not had improvement with conventional healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Many people like the collaborative approach of working with a Naturopathic Doctor to optimize their health and improve the quality of their life.
Q: Is Naturopathic Medicine based on scientific evidence?
A: Naturopathic Doctors increasingly embrace evidence-based medicine, while recognizing there is much about the human mind, body, and spirit that remains beyond the understanding of scientists. We also consider the fact that over time, the best medical practices as supported by science are often later viewed as ineffective, or even harmful, to health. Today’s NDs strike a balance between respect for the healing power of nature — much of which science has yet to be able to fully understand or measure — and the best available research in our fields.
Q: Is there a difference between Naturopathic Doctors and “Naturopaths”?
A: These terms are often used interchangeably. Some NDs also refer to themselves as Naturopaths. If a practitioner is using the title “ND” or “Naturopath”, he or she must be fully licensed as a Naturopathic Doctor. Practitioners without the proper training are not allowed to use these titles. Consumers should always check the credentials of anyone offering healthcare services.