What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Job description

NDs provide primary patient care that blends natural medicine with conventional diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians treat the cause of illness, work to prevent disease whenever possible and teach patients how to live healthy lives. NDs have many tools to treat patients, including nutrition, lifestyle medicine, physical medicine and herbal therapies.

The 2009 Department of Labor Custom Report states that the job description of a naturopathic physician (ND) is to: “Diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies.” – Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009 wage data

Basic tasks:

  • Interview patients to document symptoms and health histories.
  • Advise patients about therapeutic exercise and nutritional medicine regimens.
  • Administer, dispense, or prescribe natural medicines such as food or botanical extracts, herbs, dietary supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals, and amino acids.
  • Document patients’ histories, including identifying data, chief complaints, illnesses, previous medical or family histories, or psychosocial characteristics.
  • Educate patients about health care management.
  • Diagnose health conditions based on patients’ symptoms and health histories, laboratory and diagnostic radiology test results, or other physiological measurements, such as electrocardiograms and electroencephalographs.
  • Conduct physical examinations and physiological function tests for diagnostic purposes.
  • Maintain professional development through activities such as post-graduate education, continuing education, preceptorships, and residency programs.
  • Order diagnostic imaging procedures such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasounds, mammograms, and bone densitometry tests, or refer patients to other health professionals for these procedures.
  • Administer treatments or therapies, such as homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Oriental or Ayurvedic medicine, electrotherapy and diathermy, using physical agents such as air, heat, cold, water, sound and/or ultraviolet light to catalyze the body to heal itself.


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