25 Differences Between a Conventional Doctor and a Naturopathic Doctor

Obviously, not all doctors are the same.

Not even all naturopaths.

I saw one naturopathic who only prescribed homeopathic remedies and nothing else. I know some who do not prescribe any medication, but that is not normal.

This post is about comparing what naturopathic doctors offer to what conventional doctors offer.

If you have considered a naturopathic doctor, but think you will be limiting yourself, please read on.

I have so many more options available to me now through the naturopathic doctor than I ever had under the conventional doctor.

This is based on my experience and may not be true in every situation. There are very good conventional doctors out there and some very bad naturopaths.

A Conventional Doctor vs. a Naturopathic Doctor

Conventional Doctor

Naturopathic Doctor

Thinks they know everything

Listens to you

Trusts themselves

Trusts you to know how your own body

Does limited testing, many of the tests are outdated or inaccurate but they’re used to determine your care

Does extensive testing beyond what conventional medicine offers

Can prescribe medication

Can prescribe medication and more kinds of medication than most conventional doctors

Discourages use of anything but medication

Prescribes alternatives to medication if it’s deemed a better option

Treat symptoms

Looks for root causes

Covers side effects with more medication

Tries different medications or supplements to minimize size effects

Refuses to work outside of what’s considered normal

Thinks outside the box and finds unconventional treatments

Cares a lot about what the insurance company thinks

Doesn’t care about insurance if you’re prepared to pay for it

Can risk losing his license for treatments outside of normal

Is expected to pursue treatments outside of normal

Had 15-minute appointments intended to get you medication

Has 30 minute to 1-hour appointments intended to get to know you and seek solutions together

Gets annoyed and accuses you of being a hypochondriac if you research your conditions or possible conditions

Encourages you to educate yourself

Considers himself your superior

Considers himself your partner in pursuing better health

Requires referrals for anything beyond basic care

Can do the same work as a specialist with the option to refer if necessary

Gets upset if you use herbs because he doesn’t know if they’re safe

Has extensive knowledge of herbs and alternative therapies

Gives instructions without educating the patient because he expects his directions to be followed

Gives explanations of what is happening and why as well as the reasons for the treatment

Gets upset if you don’t do as you’re told

Makes treatment recommendations and leaves the choices up to you

Thinks you’ll never follow a diet or exercise plan why bother

Assumes you’ll behave like an adult and take care of yourself with diet and exercise

Works a set time and isn’t available after hours

Come in after hours to see you if it’s a serious situation

Can only be contacted by leaving a message

Can be contacted by email, office number, cell phone number, and may even answer the office phone himself

Has a horrible bedside manner because his knowledge is more important

Has an excellent bedside manner because helping you is most important

Can treat simple conditions or a certain part of your body if it’s a specialist

Looks at your whole body and can treat all the problems  which are likely connected

Expects autoimmune patients to just live with the worsening conditions

Expects autoimmune patients to gradually get better as the issues that are causing the autoimmunity are addressed, offers the possibility of remission

When in doubt offers antibiotics, antidepressants, painkillers, and immune suppressants

Offers those medications if other options are exhausted or if that is deemed the best treatment option, it is not the go-to for every situation

I cannot guarantee that every naturopathic doctor will abide by these ideals. I have had bad experiences with even naturopathic doctors.

However, I can just about guarantee you that you will find better treatment with alternative medicine than conventional –especially if you have autoimmunity– because alternative medication can do everything a conventional doctor can do –and more– without having their hands tied by insurance companies and medical organizations.

If you have the option to see a naturopathic doctor I highly recommend it.

I suggest interviewing the doctor first and asking how he would respond in some of the above situations.

Remember that some naturopathic doctors approach medicine very much like conventional doctors. and that is not what you want.

Our culture is full of people who are undiagnosed and dying of serious chronic illnesses. If we want a different result, we’re going to have to use a different method of treatment.

My naturopathic doctor has helped me with conditions that completely baffled convention medicine. If you’re in a similar situation, hopefully, this post will motivate you to move to better care.


Sarah Forbes


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