Can Naturopathic Doctors Prescribe Prescription Drugs?Naturopathic Doctors and Prescription Drugs

If a naturopathic doctor is a medical doctor (MD) that has passed a licensing exam, they are typically able to prescribe prescription drugs. Keep in mind though that not every naturopathic healthcare provider has an MD. An MD is not necessarily a naturopathic doctor but many physicians who have followed a more traditional path for obtaining their MD have subsequently gone on to get naturopathic degrees.

Kinds of Naturopaths

Naturopathic Physicians are also called naturopathic doctors (ND) or doctors of naturopathic medicine (NMD). This kind of medical doctor typically acquires an undergraduate degree before completing four years or more of accredited graduate level study. An ND or NMD learns the same basic sciences as students of conventional Western medicine do but they also study other kinds of health practices such as nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, nutrition and psychology. Some states in the United States require that naturopathic doctors become licensed before they are allowed to practice independently. Once a doctor is licensed, they need to take continuing education classes to keep their license current.

There are many practitioners of naturopathy that have attended naturopathic training but they have not necessarily attended an accredited naturopathic or other kind of medical school. One does not necessarily need a degree to refer to oneself as a naturopath and to treat patients with naturopathy but it is important to determine this in advance of signing up for treatment if you specifically want a naturopath that has the ability to prescribe conventional prescription medicine.

Many people who initially got their education and training to become medical doctors, dentists, doctors of osteopathy (DO), chiropractors, and nurses, also have training in naturopathic medicine. Some of them have different levels of education and training in naturopathy, whereas others possess an ND or NMD in addition to their other license(s).


Naturopathy is a medical system that originated in Europe during the 1800s. It combines traditional practices and health care approaches that were popular at the time. Naturopathic practitioners can be primary caregivers with a focus on a patient’s overall well-being as well as treating specific ailments.  

Naturopathy is a system of alternative medicine based on the theory that diseases can be successfully treated or prevented without the use of drugs, by techniques such as diet and nutrition, exercise and massage. It is considered to be a primary health care profession that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and achieving optimal health through this and the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage an individual’s inherent ability to self heal.

As set out by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:

– The Healing Power of Nature Vis Medicatrix Naturae

– Identify and Treat the Causes Tolle Causam

– First Do No Harm Primum Non Nocere 

– Doctor as Teacher Docere

– Treat the Whole Person 

– Prevention

The practice of naturopathic care includes clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, nutritional medicine and supplements, botanical medicine, naturopathic physical medicine (including naturopathic manipulative therapy), public health measures, hygiene, counseling, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, i.v. and injection therapies, and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth).

Be informed with Coastal Natural Health.

Naturopaths and Prescription Medications

If you’re trying to decide if you want a naturopath as a primary care provider you may be slightly nervous. You may be asking such questions as, can I still be referred to a specialist? What happens if I need surgery? Can naturopathic doctors prescribe prescription drugs? As much as you may want to rely on naturopathic health care, you may still want the option of having prescription medications available to you as needed. If this is the case, there’s good news for you.

Licensed naturopathic doctors receive a comprehensive curriculum in pharmaceutical drugs in medical school. And depending on which state they practice in, most naturopathic doctors should be able to prescribe prescription medications.

However, you should be aware that it’s probably unlikely that they’ll prescribe any pharmaceutical medications without exhausting any and all other options. More than likely they will first try a number of different natural treatments and remedies to help fix an underlying cause before they prescribe a medication. And even then, they may only write a prescription if doing so will contribute to a patient’s overall general health and wellness. However, if they feel it might be beneficial, most should be able to write a prescription.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a good example of when naturopathic doctors may be willing to prescribe prescription medication. Some of the standard naturopathic treatments for back pain include:

  • Chiropractic visits
  • Acupuncture sessions
  • Massage Therapy
  • Physical Therapy

These alternative treatments won’t work, however, if someone is in too much pain to take advantage of them. In this case, a naturopath might prescribe medication for pain relief so that therapy is bearable.


Anyone who’s experienced a migraine can tell you it can be impossible to function when they hit. There are several prescription medications that will get rid of the immediate pain and discomfort, and a naturopath might use those as a temporary solution while they figure out the underlying cause. Sitting through an acupuncture session while experiencing a migraine might be impossible for some people, but they might get relief from medication long enough to reap the ongoing benefits of acupuncture.


There are several prescription medications that can help with severe allergies. A naturopath may choose to utilize these while they make alternative recommendations to lessen your body’s reaction to certain things such as pollen or dander.

There are a number of alternative medications and also prescription medication options at Coastal Natural Health. Call today to set up an appointment and explore your options.