• Jack Keeney, FRHC Social Media Manager

What are Naturopaths, Anyway?

[photo credit: pixabay.com]

In conversations over the past few years, going back to when I first started going to a naturopath for help with certain health issues, it seems people have real misconceptions about their training, and what they're qualified to do professionally.

Naturopaths are medical doctors, plain and simple. They study many of the same courses that MD's do, in some cases more hours/courses than an MD would be required to. For example, both take courses in anatomy, physiology, pathology (the study of the essential nature of diseases), and immunology. Can a naturopath prescribe medications, like and MD can? “Yes, Naturopaths are licensed to write prescriptions for medications and will do so when necessary. They are also able to taper patients off of medications when appropriate in a safe and effective manner.” When I was seeing one, she prescribed my antidepressant for me.

“After the first two years, both ND and MD curricula focus on applying medical knowledge to real-life situations; simultaneous classroom studies support this training. Both curricula strive to maximize the synchronization of classroom and clinical training during these key years, thereby improving the quality and practicality of the students’ educations.” Both programs of study (MD and ND), toward the end, seek to emphasize the practical outworking of the academic skills and knowledge base built up the first two years; students are expected to be able to use what they had been learning in the classroom/labs in real life patient situations.

I get the impression that many people see naturopaths as not at all qualified, as MD's obviously are, to diagnose and treat disease. Nothing could be further from the truth. Naturopaths also have more of a whole-body approach to treating illness and disorders. Therefore, you might want to consider seeing a good, quality naturopath as an optional part of a treatment plan.


Root Natural Health. (2011-13). Frequently Asked Questions. Root Natural Health. Retrieved from http://www.rootnaturalhealth.com/faq.html.

Schorsch, Shana, and Guru Sandesh Singh Khalsa, ND. (2015). Comparing ND & MD Curricula-a Question of Degree. Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Retrieved from http://aanmc.org/schools/comparing_nd_md_curricula/.

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