A frequent question that we’re asked is “What is the difference between all of these health professions?”

Related: How does the training of a Medical Doctor (MD) and a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) compare?

When you are ready to make a choice to pick out a Health Care Provider, it can be a little daunting and confusing to understand what route is best to take and what type of provider would be best for you.

A licensed doctor is someone with the ability to diagnose and treat disease — this would include NDs, NMDs, DOs and MDs, that are state licensed with their relevant medical board.

Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Functional Medicine Practitioners, Nutritionists, Wellness Coaches, “Traditional” Naturopaths, Massage Therapists, etc are all excellent service providers to have on your health care team, in addition to a licensed doctor.  

A Naturopathic Doctor fits into your health care when you are looking to get to the root cause of your health condition.  A good example might be in the case of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

  • Your conventional MD/DO doctor may only prescribe antibiotics, and pay no attention to the myriad natural tools that are available to discover why the condition exists.
  • A non-doctor wellness practitioner may treat with just supplements, may not properly diagnose the condition, may not use the appropriate natural treatments nor will they have the ability to prescribe antibiotics or other conventional treatments if necessary.  
  • With the Naturopathic Doctors at NWC, you receive the best of both worlds – natural treatment utilizing herbs, vitamins, physical medicine, dietary changes, etc, with the training, license and ability to provide conventional care as needed.  The ND will focus additionally on WHY the UTI happened and how to address that underlying issue, not just suppress the symptoms of the condition.

There is definitely use for all three disciplines in your health care cycle. Conventional medicine is wonderful for emergency medicine or for when the health condition is severe and/or needs immediate attention.  A non-doctor wellness practitioner is excellent to help you implement more complicated prescribed nutritional and dietary changes as well as provide other services like coaching, energy work, or a myriad of other offerings that may aid and assist you on your path to wellness.  A  Naturopathic Doctor is best to serve as the central practitioner, to evaluate your overall health, provide complex diagnosis’, monitor your progress, and ensure that you are receiving the Best-in-Class care amongst conventional-medical, traditional, functional and natural medicines.