What Is It Like to Work with a Naturopathic Doctor?


Most Western adults grew up going to a traditional medical provider for well-child visits, ear infections, and other ailments. But more and more people are now turning to naturopathic medicine for their care and their families’ care. Since it’s still a newer type of medical practice in the US, many people wonder what it is like to work with a naturopathic doctor.

At Ancora Wellness, we offer comprehensive services that don’t require a diagnosis. This includes care from our naturopathic physician. If you’re interested in how we can support your whole self, connect with us today.

Western Medicine vs. Naturopathic Medicine

There are many significant differences between western (allopathic) and naturopathic medicine. But here is the primary distinction:

  • Traditional western medicine primarily focuses on treating symptoms.
  • Naturopathic medicine focuses on the root causes of symptoms.

This synopsis is a very simplified way to look at two complicated medical approaches, but it does drill down to the core of what sets naturopathic care apart. When you work with a naturopathic doctor (ND or NMD), they aim to help your body do its own healing by addressing causes of dis-ease.

Is a Naturopathic Doctor a “Real” Medical Provider?

A licensed ND or NMD is, indeed, a “real” doctor. They have a degree from an accredited college or university and have received over 4000 hours of instruction. Naturopaths also undergo at least 1200 hours of supervised clinical training before licensing.

Depending on the laws in their state, naturopathic physicians often can diagnose and treat conditions and prescribe medications. Most NDs also prescribe homeopathic options when appropriate.

Why Choose a Naturopath?

Choosing a naturopathic doctor for your medical care can feel intimidating fo people who have always used a traditional provider. But the demand for naturopathic medicine is growing, as our spending habits prove. Globally, people spend more than $82 billion on alternative modalities.

Some of the reasons people choose to go to an ND include:

  • They feel unheard and rushed by traditional doctors.
  • They hope to avoid pharmaceutical medications.
  • They want support with chronic conditions, such as autoimmune disorders.
  • They feel boxed into a diagnosis for insurance purposes.
  • They need lifestyle support, such as nutritional guidance.

In previous generations, naturopathy resided on the fringe of the medical world. Now, however, it is highly accepted and regarded as an equally viable form of medicine. Many traditional physicians collaborate with NDs for their patients’ care.

Likewise, insurance companies are starting to approve naturopathic doctors as primary care providers. This change allows many NDs to bill for their services, although a significant number choose not to accept insurance.

How Is an Appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor Different?

If you go to an ND, many things will be similar to a traditional doctor visit. You will fill out a health history and go over those questions with your provider. They will likely check your vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure. An ND can also order labs and other bloodwork just like an MD would do.

One of the biggest differences you might find, however, is the time that your doctor spends with you. While a traditional office visit with a Western medical doctor is about 15-20 minutes, naturopathic physicians provide much longer appointments. Initial visits are typically one to two hours, and follow-ups are generally 30-60 minutes.

Why is there such a big difference? For starters, their intake is extensive. Remember, the goal of natural medicine is to uncover and address the root causes of problems. Doing so requires significant time and information. 

Many people complain that traditional doctors don’t even look at the health forms that patients fill out, let alone discuss them. Naturopaths, however, dig deep into your family history, symptoms, and lifestyle to determine underlying causes for your symptoms. Plan to spend at least an hour for your first visit, so the doctor can gather all the necessary information.

Another significant difference you’ll note during an ND visit is that they are not quick to prescribe medication. Obviously, some acute conditions require pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics. A licensed ND can prescribe this if their state allows it, or they will refer you to someone who can.

But for chronic conditions, a naturopathic doctor will likely offer other tools to support your health, including:

  • Herbal Remedies
  • Comprehensive Labs
  • Nutritional Guidance
  • Acupuncture

Their goal is to help your body do its healing once they have discovered the root problems. They do not want to mask symptoms with medications. Instead, they want to help your body do what it’s capable of doing.

Is Naturopathic Medicine Right For Me?

There is no one-size-fits-all medical solution. Each person is unique from a cellular level on up and deserves to find the proper type of support for their needs. 

Many people rely on a combination of allopathic and naturopathic providers, while others only use one. A naturopathic doctor might be a great option to explore if you have chronic conditions or simply want a different way to support your health. 

A Holistic Wellness Space

Ancora Wellness strives to be a grounding space where clients can access a range of practitioners and services. We recognize that people’s needs fluctuate over time, so we take an integrative and intuitive approach to your care.

We invite you to connect with us to learn more about our naturopathic, bodywork, and mental health providers.

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