Do you understand the difference between an ND, MD and DO?

What is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND)?

Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) are primary health care doctors trained to use natural methods in preventing and treating disease. Naturopathic doctors focus on treating the whole person, promoting health and finding the root cause of disease. They are trained to understand and discover the underlying components of a patient’s illness rather than treating only symptoms.  They are trained to conventionally diagnose and treat disease using the most up-to-date laboratory technologies and imaging techniques. They use holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and wellness. They can perform all routine medical exams in the office, but may also refer patients to medical specialists for more specialized testing or conventional intervention. Naturopathic doctors do not usually use synthetic drugs, although they do have a limited scope of prescriptive medication rights and may prescribe medications on a limited basis.

Naturopathic doctors attend a 4-year graduate level naturopathic medical school. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete 4 years of training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, and hydrotherapy. The degree conferred is Doctor of Naturopathy. A naturopathic doctor uses the initials ND after their name to denote their degree.

A naturopathic doctor takes rigorous professional board exams to be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care physician. To be eligible to sit for the board exams, a candidate must have graduated from one of only four accredited schools in the United States. The
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians(AANP) is the professional organization that represents licensed naturopathic doctors,

For more information on Naturopathic Doctors in California, please visit the California Naturopathic Association www.calnd.orgas well as reading the Consumer’s Guide to Naturopathic Medicine published by the CA Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine

You may find a licensed Naturopathic Doctor by visiting

Treatment Modalities

Naturopathic Doctors may use a wide variety of holistic therapies including, but not limited to: 

Clinical Nutrition, Botanical Medicine, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Physical Medicine, Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Counseling, and Cell Salt Therapy.

What are Medical Doctors (MD) and Osteopathic Physicians (DO)?

Excerpt from

D.O.s (Doctor of Osteopathy) and M.D.s (Medical Doctors) are alike in many ways:

  • Applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both D.O.s and M.D.s complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both D.O.s and M.D.s obtain graduate medical education through such programs as internships and residencies. This training typically lasts three to six years and prepares D.O.s and M.D.s to practice a specialty.
  • Both D.O.s and M.D.s can choose to practice in any specialty area of medicine-such as pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
  • D.O.s and M.D.s must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
  • D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.
  • Together, D.O.s and M.D.s enhance the state of health care available in America.
  • Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
  • D.O.s practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.
  • Osteopathic physicians focus on preventive health care.
  • D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system-your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.
  • Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health.

Dr. Bianca Garilli is a Naturopathic doctor at OC Natural Medicine Practicelocated in Mission Viejo, California.  If you are looking for alternative medical treatment – go see her!



2 Responses to “Do you understand the difference between an ND, MD and DO?”

  1. 1 sophia jason December 4, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing the information. Naturopathic doctors are primary health care doctors who seeks to assist the natural healing wisdom of the human body through natural approaches. They never attempts to overtake or compromise the body’s own healing. Naturopathic approach to health care helps prevent disease and keeps minor illnesses from developing into more serious or chronic degenerative diseases. To know more about naturopathy and different benefits, consult Dr. Gez Agolli and his team of expert naturopathic practitioners in Atlanta. Use the link to know more click here, read more about Naturopathy

  1. 1 Do you understand the difference between an ND, MD and DO? Trackback on November 8, 2008 at 11:50 pm

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