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Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Heilpraktiker ("healing practitioner(s)") is a naturopathic state-approved and state-regulated profession in German-speaking countries. In its ideal form, it's a "lite" version of physicians, diagnosing and treating ailments, but while the profession is more regulated than naturopathic professions in other countries,[citation needed] Heilpraktiker tend to specialise on CAM treatments.


In January 2006, the magazine Ökotest tested 20 Heilpraktiker.[1] With "very good" as the best result, 4 were "good", 5 would be warned against. The remaining filled out the range in between, with all kinds of misdiagnosis and useless treatments. In 2008, Stiftung Warentest's most important magazine Test tested 40 Heilpraktiker and concentrated on homeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.[2] The service was rated positively, medical competency was rated as fragmentary. When it came to standards for classical homeopathy and TCM, the ratings were higher.

In August 2017, an interdisciplinary group of experts, Münsteraner Kreis, wrote Münsteraner Memorandum Heilpraktiker.[3] This publication notes a gap of standard of quality in the medical sector when comparing the CAM-riddled Heilpraktiker and regular medical care. In its conclusion, it calls for either dissolving the profession or for a radical reform on the basis of competency. This caused various reactions in media[4][5][6][7][8][9][10], in journals and from the medical community[11][12][13][14][15] and — of course — from Heilpraktiker associations.[16][17][18][19][20]


If you want to become Heilpraktiker:

  • You need to be 25 years old, have a minimal level of education and be generally fit to act as Heilpraktiker.
  • You can't work in another profession while practicing.[21]
  • You need to pass a written exam about anatomy, medicine and law (usually multiple choice, and you need 75%) and pass a 30-45 minutes oral exam,[22] in which you need to convince two physicians, two Heilpraktiker and one person who's neither,[23] that you have sufficient knowledge and you don't pose a threat to public health.

Based on the requirements you have to pass an exam at health office to practice as a 'Heilpraktiker' in Germany.[24] Furthermore, in addition to the fully authorized 'Heilpraktiker', there are also so-called sectoral 'Heilpraktiker' who are restricted in their allowed job profile.[25]

Congrats, the German state now allows you to practice in a medical context, including physiotherapy and psychotherapy — as long as you know what you're doing, people can still sue you and you need to obey all of the other laws as well. Among other things, you're not allowed to prescribe drugs, function as a dentist, function as a midwife, function as a coroner, apply radiotherapy or do anything about notifiable diseases or STDs.
This means that you can be one of the 10% not having any training before starting as a Heilpraktiker.[26]

Too much work? If you're OK with working on animals instead of humans, just call yourself Tierheilpraktiker and start right away![27]


See the main article on this topic: Switzerland

While nomenclature for German Heilpraktiker tries to at least pretend there's a focus on a medical standard, the Swiss version specifically has four pseudomedical branches for the profession:[28][29] The officially recommended English translation is naturopathic practitioner with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training in discipline[30]


The Swiss version has its most significant differences in the following:[30]

  • 2 or 3 years of experience in the profession
  • a graduation in modules covering ethics and medicine, basics in medicine, the chosen branch, therapy, business studies, practical working and a mentored internship.
  • The exams are evaluated by at least two experts (the candidate's teachers, relatives, business partners, current and previous superiors and coworkers).

As such, the official requirements lean more heavily on a vocational training than in Germany.


See the main article on this topic: Austria

Heilpraktiker is not a legal profession in Austria — in fact, training[31] or practicing as Helipraktiker is illegal. The only ones allowed to do medicine without supervision by a physician are (wait for it) physicians.[32][33] When contested by a market-leading[34] Heilpraktiker corporation, the European Court of Justice upheld Austrian law to be compatible with EU law in this regard.[35]


  1. Ökotest 2006 Test: Heilpraktiker
  2. Test 28.02.2008 Heilpraktiker
  3. Münsteraner Kreis: Münsteraner Memorandum Heilpraktiker. 2017-08-21.
  4. Süddeutsche Zeitung: Heilpraktiker: Ein unzulässiger Beruf?
  5. Motherboard: Gegen den "Irrsinn": Wissenschaftler fordern Abschaffung des Heilpraktikerberufs
  6. Süddeutsche: Erst Physiotherapeut, dann Heilpraktiker
  7. Deutschlandfunk: "Unhaltbare Krankheitskonzepte" Eine Expertenkommission empfiehlt eine grundlegende Reform des Heilpraktikerberufs, die Ausbildung sei unangemessen, die Krankheitskonzepte unhaltbar. Interview mit der Vorsitzenden der Kommission, Prof. Bettina Schöne-Seifert
  8. Pharmazeutische Zeitung: Medizin-Experten wollen Heilpraktikerberuf abschaffen
  9. RP Online: Medizin-Experten fordern Reform von Heilpraktiker-Gesetz
  10. Humanischer Pressedienst: Wenn der "Reinkarnationstherapeut" gegen Aufklärung wettert
  11. Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin: Stellungnahme zum Münsteraner Memorandum Heilpraktiker, 24.10.2017
  12. ÄrzteZeitung: Weg mit dem Heilpraktikerberuf!
  13. ÄrzteZeitung: Ruf nach konsequentem Patientenschutz
  14. Ärztekammer Westfalen-Lippe: Windhorst kritisiert Heilpraktiker: „Können Gefahr für die Patientenversorgung sein - Keine Leitlinien und keine wissenschaftliche Standards: Kammer will Berufseinschränkung und Regulierung
  15. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung: Experten fordern Abschaffung oder Reform des Heilpraktikerberufs
  16. Bund Deutscher Heilpraktiker e.V.: BDH weist Kritik an Heilpraktiker-Beruf in Deutschland zurück
  17. Deutsche Welle: Heilpraktiker: "Das Münsteraner Memorandum wimmelt von Fehlern"
  18. Pharmazeutische Zeitung: Heilpraktiker weisen «undifferenzierte Generalkritik» zurück
  19. Süddeutsche Zeitung: Sollten Heilpraktiker zuerst eine Ausbildung in einem Gesundheitsberuf absolvieren?
  20. ScienceBlogs: Heilpraktiker Psychotherapie – abschaffen oder aufwerten?, anchored to a comment by head of Deutsche Heilpraktikerschule Konstanz
  21. Heilpraktikergesetz §2, German citizenship is no longer required
  22. Richtlinie zur Durchführung des Verfahrens zur Erteilung einer Erlaubnis nach dem Heilpraktikergesetz
  23. Heilpraktikergesetz §4
  24. Official guideline and further Details of exam
  25. Job profiles 'Heilpraktiker' (full & sectoral)
  26. Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review: Europe: Germany, "10% of Heilpraktikers did not have any form of training"
  27. Bundesgerichtshof Urt. v. 22.04.1999, Az.: I ZR 108/97 „Tierheilpraktiker“
  28. Berufsbild Naturheilpraktiker/in (HFP)
  29. Berufsverzeichnis Naturheilpraktiker/in mit eidg. Diplom
  30. 30.0 30.1 Prüfungsordnung über die Höhere Fachprüfung für Naturheilpraktikerin und Naturheilpraktiker
  31. Ausbildungsvorbehaltsgesetz §1 limits vocational training to the approved institutions, in the jurisdictions of physicians, dentists, midwives, patient care, various other medical services, psychology, psychotherapy, veterinarians, cardiology, paramedics, medical massage and medical assistants. Trying to do so is a criminal act. Advertising for such counts as trying and is a criminal act.
  32. Ärztegesetz 1998 §2 defines a physician's jurisdiction
  33. Ärztegesetz 1998 §3 (4), §3 (3) defines the conditions for relatively unsupervised work.
  34. Deutsche Paracelsus Schulen für Naturheilverfahren GmbH by their own account
  35. Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 11 July 2002. Case C-294/00. Advertising for training outside Austria is allowed if the ad mentions that the profession may not be exercised in Austria.