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Make sure your Naturopathic Doctor is a licensed, and registered as a Board of Drugless Therapy practitioner.

Training and Education

Licensed naturopathic doctors require a minimum of eight years post-graduate education. This is composed of four years of pre-medical study at college or university, which is then followed by entrance into a four-year, full-time program with practical education at a recognized naturopathic medical school.

Prospective students must apply and interview in order to gain acceptance to a naturopathic medical school with admission requirements comparable to those of conventional medical schools. The degree, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, requires four years of graduate level study in the medical sciences. These include anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, differential diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, immunology, cardiology, radiology, gynecology, dermatology, pediatrics and other clinical sciences.  Students also receive intensive training in naturopathic therapeutics such as nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy and lifestyle counselling. Training for a degree in naturopathic medicine also includes over 500 hours of clinical training in outpatient clinics.

There are six naturopathic medicine teaching institutions in North America and two in Canada that are fully accredited by naturopathic medical regulatory boards. These government-appointed boards require candidates to pass comprehensive examinations before licensing them to practise.


After acquiring the degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, naturopathic doctors must pass a national level board examination in order to become licensed to practise naturopathic medicine. In order to maintain an active license with the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N) a naturopathic doctor must have malpractice insurance and complete a number of continuing education hours to keep up with medical and naturopathic advancements.

Title Protection

The title Naturopathic Doctor and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine are regulated titles under the Board of Drugless Therapy.  Do not be confused with other titles like Natural Medical Doctor, Natural Doctor, Doctor of Natural Medicine, Holistic Practitioner, or Holistic Doctor, which are NOT regulated by the board. For insurance purposes, naturopathic treatments must be administered by a licensed naturopathic doctor. Make sure your doctor is registered and make sure to ask for their registration number.

Did You Know That …

In 1983, the World Health Organization recommended the integration of naturopathic medicine into conventional health care systems.1

In 1994, Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, a naturopathic medical school, was awarded almost $1 million in research funds from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine to research alternative therapies for patients with HIV and AIDS.2

Graduates of accredited naturopathic medical colleges are required to have more hours of study in basic sciences and clinical sciences than graduates of Yale or Stanford medical schools.3

The “anti-cancer” diet recognized by the National Cancer Institute was first published in a naturopathic medical textbook in the 1940s.4

Graduates of accredited naturopathic medical colleges receive more formal training in therapeutic nutrition than MDs, osteopathic physicians, or registered dietitians.5

The government of Germany now requires conventional doctors and pharmacists to receive training in naturopathic techniques because of their cost-effectiveness.6

Today, there are over two thousand licensed practising naturopathic physicians (NDs) in the United States and Canada.7

As of August 2016, 17 states in the US and 5 provinces of Canada now license naturopathic doctors as primary-care physicians.

Six accredited colleges educate and train naturopathic doctors in North America.9

The County Council in Seattle, Washington, established the nation’s first government-subsidized naturopathic medical clinic.10

  1. Burton Goldberg. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide (Future Medicine Publishing, 1993), 360.
  2. Bastyr University press release, October 4, 1994.
  3. “Naturopathic and Major Medical Schools, Comparative Curricula.” Document from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
  4. “Twenty Questions About Naturopathic Medicine.” Document from the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine.
  5. “Naturopathic and Major Medical Schools: Comparative Curricula.” Document from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
  6. William Collinge. The American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine (Warner Books, 1996), 125.
  7. NIH. Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993), 88.
  8. American Association of Naturopathic Physicians brochure.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Bastyr University press release, February 27, 1995.