5 Things an ND Would Never Do

Patient and ND sitting at a desk in a clinic.

In recent years, more and more people have begun looking to integrative health as a way to naturally address health conditions. 1 2 Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are healthcare practitioners that follow a distinct set of principles and use natural, non-invasive practices to treat a variety of health issues. 3  Here are 5 things an ND would never do when treating a patient.

Treat the Symptom and not the Root Cause

While a naturopathic doctor will help patients treat and manage their symptoms, and may need to do that for acute or life threatening conditions, they will not stop there. A naturopathic doctor always does everything that they can to discover the root cause of the issue and ultimately treat that. For example, if you are experiencing chronic pain, your ND might give you some strategies to reduce pain in the moment, but they will also work with you to find out what is causing that pain in the first place. In order to determine the root cause, they will perform physical and lab diagnostic tests, and may have you try an elimination diet or other dietary and lifestyle changes in order to isolate the cause of your symptoms.

Ignore Recurring Issues

If you have recurring issues or symptoms that may seem unrelated, a naturopathic doctor will always want to pursue the root cause of these. Often recurring issues such as chronic fatigue can be indicators of underlying issues such as allergies. 4 It is important to let your healthcare practitioner know of any recurring issues you may have, even if you do not think that they are related to the problem that you are getting treated.

Suggest Invasive Treatments

The first principle of naturopathic medicine is “first, do no harm.” 5  This means that NDs most often approach health concerns using the gentlest, least invasive treatment options first. They will use natural approaches, including recommending supplements, dietary changes, and non-invasive holistic treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture. This makes naturopathic medicine a good choice for those looking for gentle treatments as either an alternative or complement to conventional healthcare. *Care may need to escalate in invasiveness based on patient safety and other factors.

Leave You in the Dark

Another principle of naturopathic medicine is “doctor as teacher.” 6 This means that, as healthcare professionals, naturopathic doctors have the responsibility to not only treat their patients, but to educate them as well. When you go to a doctor of naturopathic medicine, you should leave with a better understanding of your health issues, possible underlying causes, and potential treatments. NDs always work to elevate patients’ health literacy to empower them to take more control over their own health. 

Not Look at the Bigger Picture

NDs always look at your health issues as parts of a whole as opposed to individual, separate problems. They will take a broad scope and look at your lifestyle, diet, stress levels, environmental conditions, and mental wellbeing, considering how each aspect works in conjunction to support or detract from your overall health. This way of approaching health issues allows the healthcare provider to treat the whole patient and equips the patient to take charge of their health through lifestyle changes. 


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