MD vs. ND | Medical Doctors vs. Naturopathic Doctors: Exploring the Contrasts and Overlaps in Healthcare


Nature has given us enough resources so that we can flourish in life and sustain challenges with ease. If we talk about medical science, the physiology of the human body can be altered chemically or through natural remedies. Over the last decade, we have grown immensely in conventional medicine. We have so many specialties dealing with some deadly diseases, and there is continuous research in this field to manage the diseases better and enhance the quality of life. In this similar context, there is a paradigm shift toward Naturopathy that deals with the natural healing of the body, natural medicine, homeopathy, etc. In this blog, we will compare these two distinctive approaches and discuss Naturopathic Doctors vs. Medical Doctors (ND vs. MD), aiming at a healthy life free from diseases.

Evidence-Based Medicine: Being A Medical Doctor

Evidence-Based Medicine: Being A Medical Doctor
Evidence-Based Medicine: Being A Medical Doctor

Firstly, let us discuss the more conventional and evidence-based approach of a Medical Doctor (MD). Medical science has been able to counter many ill effects of diseases and tried to enhance the quality of life. Still, it mainly depends on a doctor’s conventional approach.

The grooming of MDs through their career, right from education, approach, and expertise, is based on evidence. This means they do scientific research, clinical trials, medical diagnoses, and treatment decisions chronologically.

To end the debate of Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD) we came up with this insight:

The Doctor of Medicine could rely on pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, medical procedures, and many other conventional methods to treat a symptom of diseases, while Naturopaths can be more symptomatic based; their approach is holistic, focusing on the body’s ability to heal itself. They can utilize some natural therapies to stimulate the healing process.

Natural Therapies: Naturopathy Approach

Natural Therapies: Naturopathy Approach
Natural Therapies: Naturopathy Approach

Now, let us talk about the holistic and natural healing approach of a Naturopath or Naturopathic physician. We all know that our bodies are a complex system with tremendous capacities beyond our discoveries. Healing itself is one of those capabilities. Naturopath exploits that science and stimulates healing with natural medicines or therapies.

The debacle around the statement of Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD) can end if we try to understand the science behind the approach of both. We can see a Naturopath if we deal with a chronic medical condition like high Blood Pressure or Diabetes. They can heal the underlying health problem slowly. In case of trauma or emergencies, we need to see an MD, surgeon, or corresponding medical expert with the more conventional approach, which can heal us better. It can be more need and condition-based. 

Nutritional Counseling

When discussing the Holistic approach of a Naturopath, we may discuss different types of natural therapies and treatments they utilize. On the road to naturally healing the body, they will do Nutritional counseling, emphasizing diet and nutrition’s role in health.

There is a religious saying, “What we eat, is what we become.” We must be fully aware and eat with a conscious mind, supporting our wellness. Food should not be the cause of a body’s struggle and diseases. A naturopath understands it and guides us in better ways.


Homeopathy can be a therapeutic modality in the daily practice of a Naturopath. Before pursuing a homeopathic treatment, ND can do a symptomatic assessment of the patient. It can begin with assessing the patient’s health, including medical history, and discussing current conditions and symptoms.
Homeopathy mainly deals with the patient’s symptoms and characteristics. The medicines are derived from natural substances processed through a series of dilutions. After deeply analyzing the symptoms and characteristics, the selected medicine is prescribed in different potencies.

Herbal Medicinal Approach

Choosing herbal medicines can be a preferred approach of Naturopaths. It is also known as Botanical medicines or phytotherapy, which involve plant-based remedies to promote well-being. A Naturopath will assess the patient’s condition before prescribing herbal medicines. It can be based on medical histories and discussing the current symptoms. 
Naturopaths are well aware of herbal plants and their therapeutic properties. They carefully select the herbs and their formulations based on their traditional use and scientific studies that have been done in the past. 
The prescribed herbs can be prepared in capsules, powder, teas, and liquid extracts. Dosages are prescribed based on severity and other factors, and the last thing will be monitoring the changes.

Do Naturopathic Doctors Have Medical Degrees

Do Naturopathic Doctors Have Medical Degrees
Do Naturopathic Doctors Have Medical Degrees

No, Naturopathic Doctors do not have medical degrees like Medical Doctors (MDs). They have degrees in naturopathic medicine (NDs). The educational background of NDs or NMDs is more focused on natural therapies, nutrition, lifestyle counseling, and herbal medicine. They must do four years of full-time ND programs accredited by naturopathic medical accrediting bodies.

Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD): A Comprehensive Examination of Key Distinction

Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD): A Comprehensive Examination of Key Distinction
Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD): A Comprehensive Examination of Key Distinction

We closely examine the medical facilities and can put a hold on the controversy surrounding Naturopathic Doctors vs. Medical Doctors.

Differences in Education &Training Levels

We can differentiate the two right from their educational background. An MD attends four years of undergraduate studies and four years of medical college. They may choose to specialize in different fields by residencies and fellowships have a strong clinical science foundation and prefer evidence-based medicines.
Naturopaths must earn a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a naturopathic medical school. They cover four years of learning about conventional medical science and naturopathic principles.

Differences in The Scope of Work (Diagnosis)

MDs are licensed medical professionals who can work in hospitals, private clinics, and various healthcare facilities. They can handle various medical conditions and use pharma drugs, surgery, and other conventional methods to deal with them.
Naturopaths are well-trained in conventional and natural therapies. They would like to work on the root cause of an illness by utilizing dietary changes, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes. They will pursue the medical case.

Differences in The Approach

MDS follows a scientific approach to any medical case. It must be backed by scientific proof, should have gone through clinical trials, and prescribed medicines should be event-based. They often focus on the diagnosis and management of any underlying problem.
The approach is enough to end the controversy surrounding Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD). NDs follow a holistic approach. They understand the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a patient. They may rescue the patient with a prevention approach and some lifestyle modifications. As they believe in self-healing, medicines can stimulate that healing.

Differences in Types of Licenses Required

MDs can be verified by medical boards and licensed to practice in all states and countries. To do that, they must adhere to ethical guidelines and medical standards.           
NDs can be licensed and regulated to practice in some states, while they may have limited or no recognition in others.

Must Read: Why Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?

Collaboration Between Naturopathic Doctors (ND) & Medical Doctors (MD)

Collaboration Between Naturopathic Doctors & Medical Doctors
Collaboration Between Naturopathic Doctors & Medical Doctors

The main motive of any healthcare facility is the welfare of the patient. Collaboration between NDs and MDs is a common practice as both experts believe in a more holistic and integrated approach to addressing the root cause of a disease.

If it is done thoughtfully and well-coordinated way, the patient will be the ultimate beneficiary of this approach. Below are some significant points to consider while we explore collaboration between the two.

1, Focused Patient Care

While discussing the holistic approach, the ultimate beneficiary in such a case should be a patient. Both the ND’s and MD’s first preference is a treatment plan so that the underlying disease can be cured and the patient gets relief. Collaboration can be a good option in many cases, as the underlying condition can be cured 100% with the intervention of any of the specialties in critical moments during the treatment plan.

2. Increased Patient Satisfaction

The most critical part of any treatment plan is patient satisfaction. It can be achieved with proper communication and when the patient is heard. When two healthcare facilities collaborate transparency, communication, and advice to the patient play an essential role in the ultimate satisfaction for both.

3. Educating & Building Trust

Education, philosophies, and approaches can differ for both healthcare facilities. To be on the same page, it is essential that during collaboration from time to time, they both educate and train each other, which will strike out misunderstandings and improve trust levels.

4. Reduced Costs

One of the aims of this collaboration is to ensure less patient hospitalization. This can curb the overall cost incurred while treating a patient. Both of them effectively manage the chronic condition of a patient. With an adequately guided treatment plan, the patient can get better over time.

Trust and communication play a vital role when two healthcare facilities collaborate. It can happen if two of them decide to work simultaneously on a condition or through a patient referral.

Functional Medicine Doctor vs. Naturopath (MD vs. ND)

Functional Medicine Doctor vs. Naturopath
Functional Medicine Doctor vs. Naturopath

They are pillars of a robust healthcare system that believes in holistic treatment. They focus on treating the underlying disease rather than just the symptoms. However, there can be a certain degree of difference between the two, which allows exploring the topic of Functional Medicine Doctor vs. Naturopath.

1. Difference in Education & Training

  • The fundamental differences between these two healthcare facilities are that Functional Medicine Doctors are typically licensed practitioners as Medical Doctors (MDs) or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) and have supplementary training in functional medicine.
  • Naturopaths hold a doctorate in Naturopathic medicine after a comprehensive program involving 4 years of study. Their training consists of a range of natural and complementary therapies, which may include herbal medicines, acupuncture, and nutritional approaches.

2. Difference in Scope of Practice

  • The scope of practice for both healthcare experts depends on different laws and regulations. In some states of the United States of America, Naturopaths are licensed to diagnose and treat diseases. In contrast, in other states, they can provide specific therapies involving herbal medicines and acupuncture. 
  • The state laws are similar for Functional Medicine Doctors as other MDs and Dos. 

3. Difference in Focus

  • Functional Medicine Doctors may employ various therapies and tools to treat an underlying medical condition. They may rely on laboratory results to diagnose a problem, and based on the findings, they will ask you to change your lifestyle and diet. The individual treatment plan also depends on the diagnosis. Medicines, dietary modifications, and exercises may be involved in their holistic approach to treating a disease.
  • Regarding Naturopaths, they may have a slightly restricted approach as they are not authorized to prescribe medicine. The holistic approach to dealing with a disease may involve selecting a therapy that includes medicinal, acupuncture, and dietary modifications. 

Right Practitioner for You

It depends on your requirements, preferences, and condition level. Both healthcare facilities believe in the holistic approach to treating an underlying health condition and delving into the root cause of a disease. Before choosing between two healthcare facilities, do a background check and research the experience level and popularity.

A Retrospective Thought

A Retrospective Thought
A Retrospective Thought

Regarding health and well-being, we choose the best alternative. Through our knowledge and experiences, we better understand the approach to healing. There is no debate about what ‘pathy’ wins the race. The conclusion is to read what the body has to say. Naturopathy is an old science that teaches all the knowledge and experiences regarding mother nature.

In other contexts, drugs and chemicals have a targeted response to our system. But this comes with a cost. Long-term assimilation of these chemicals can have a deteriorating effect on our bodies. So, what is best is a matter of choice and body health. A healthy body and a wise mind are all we seek for. And anything that helps us to find this rhythm is the ultimate solution.


Naturopathic Doctors (ND) vs. Medical Doctors (MD) can be an absurd statement to justify, as they have different medical expertise. An MD has a more sophisticated and scientific approach, while a ND has a holistic approach to pursuing a treatment. We must feel lucky as different medical facilities deal with many disorders. Ultimately, we want to show that these are two different scientific and holistic approaches. Talking about the collaboration of these two means we are moving toward more advanced medical facilities, which implies improving overall well-being.


Q1. Can Naturopathic Doctors prescribe medication?

Yes, Naturopaths can prescribe medicine. This statement can vary as it is under the law and can be practiced differently in different states of the USA. For example, some states allow them to prescribe controllable substances (drugs with a high potential for abuse) mainly used for pain relief. In contrast, some states have strict policies that do not allow them to prescribe medicines. On the contrary, they have received vigorous training in pharmacology as per their education. They know how different treatment works and about their potential side effects. They are believed to treat a person holistically, which means they focus on treating the whole person, not just the symptom. They use natural therapies like exercises and diet modification and do not hesitate to prescribe medicine if necessary.

Q2. Does Naturopathic medicine work?

It is a debatable topic, and research has been going on to support the efficacy of Naturopathic medicine. This depends on many factors like specific treatment plans, patient records, and conditions to be treated. We need to understand the core belief of Naturopathic medicine, which says the body can heal itself and needs lifestyle and dietary modifications with some therapies, prescribed drugs, and exercises to heal an underlying disease. But regarding trauma and severe medical conditions, Naturopathy seems less efficient.

Q3. Is naturopathic medicine real?

Yes, they are real medicine, but the statement is more subjective. Some people treat it as a good alternative and complementary medicine source, while some believe it is a pseudoscience. The core of Naturopathy is based on the belief that the body has everything to heal itself, and as Naturopaths, they support and enhance the natural healing process.

Q4. Naturopathic Doctor vs Holistic Doctor?

The main difference between a Naturopathic Doctor and a Holistic Doctor is the approach to a medical case. A Naturopath primarily relies on natural remedies like lifestyle and diet modifications and some therapies to support the body’s healing abilities. A Holistic Doctor works integrated, incorporating conventional medicine and other complementary healthcare services to treat an underlying health condition.

Q5. Are Naturopathic Doctors a Medical Doctor?

No, Naturopathic Doctors are different from Medical Doctors. The two healthcare experts can be differentiated based on their education, training, philosophy and treatment approach.

Mansi Balodi
Mansi Balodi
My life is always on a run but I try to find time for myself to let my wisdom and knowledge help and guide you. In my blogs, I will try to demystify the complexities of topics and will connect with you with ease of understanding. So let's explore the treasure of the world with words.

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