Naturopathic doctors often combine different complementary therapies—such as massage, herbal medicine, or diet—to help the body heal itself and stay well. Naturopaths do not prescribe drugs or do surgeries. But they may refer people to a medical doctor or specialist when needed. In some states, naturopaths have a limited ability to prescribe medicines.
A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) attends a graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in the same basic sciences as a medical doctor (MD). But the ND also studies alternative approaches to therapy, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and bodywork. Naturopathic doctors typically do not continue with postgraduate training, such as internships and residency programs.
After completing the naturopathic medical program, an ND is eligible for a licensing examination in states that have a licensing boards and standards of practice. NDs are licensed in many states but also practice in other states with no official government sanction.
Where there are no licensing standards, someone who has little or no formal education may proclaim himself or herself a naturopathic doctor without having completed medical school education or board testing.