What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a unique form of primary health care that blends modern scientific advances with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the idea that everyone has an innate capacity to heal if given the appropriate building blocks and conditions to heal. As such, naturopathic physicians work with their patients to identify barriers to optimal health and structure interventions to eliminate these barriers and support the body's natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians develop individualized treatment plans specific to the unique needs of the patient, taking into account the physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual components influencing the patient's health.
Treatment used by naturopathic physicians include: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, nutritional IVs, and lifestyle counseling.
Are naturopathic visits covered by insurance companies?
Most extended health insurance plans in Canada cover naturopathic treatments. Insured patients are encouraged to contact their insurance brokers or employer to see if they are covered and/or request their policy be extended to include naturopathic services if it does not already do so.
Do I need a referral to see a naturopathic doctor?
No. Naturopathic doctors are primary health providers. Appointments can be booked with a naturopathic doctor as soon as a health concern arises.
How are naturopathic doctors trained?
Like a conventional doctor, dentist, or chiropractor, the naturopathic doctor first completes pre-medical studies at a post secondary institution. After completion of pre-medical studies, they enter into a 4 year program at an accredited naturopathic medical school. During the first two years of the program, naturopathic students are educated in anatomy, physiology, immunology, histology, biochemistry, radiology, pharmacology, microbiology, embryology, physical and clinical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis and pathology. The next two years involves training in botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, and an extensive clinical experience under the supervision of licensed naturopathic doctors. Graduates receive the title "N.D." or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
Are naturopathic doctors licensed?
Yes. A licensed naturopathic doctor is one who practices in a regulated province (BC, SK, MB, ON, NS) or state or, if practicing in an unlicensed province or state, has obtained and maintains his/her license in a regulated province/state and has completed a four-year, full-time program at an accredited naturopathic medical school.
Following the completion of an accredited program, NDs must successfully complete standardized North American Board exams known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) in order to qualify for licensing.
What can I expect when first seeing a naturopathic doctor?
The first appointment with a naturopathic doctor is about 1 hour and subsequent appointments will be from 10 minutes to 1 hour in length depending on your specific health concerns and the naturopathic doctor you are working with. Typically during the initial visits your naturopathic doctor will take a detailed history of your current and past health concerns, conduct a physical exam and use information from laboratory tests to make an assessment and diagnosis. With the patient's input, a personalized treatment plan will be proposed to help facilitate achieving his or her health goals.
What type of health concerns do naturopathic doctors treat?
As primary health care practitioners, naturopathic doctors are trained to treat virtually all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people:
- Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion
- Patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis
- Patients with chronic and severe illnesses
How does Naturopathic Medicine compare with conventional medicine?
Although both conventional and naturopathic doctors are similarly trained, the philosophy that directs their approach to disease and treatment differs. Traditionally, modern medicine has focused on the outward appearance or symptom of disease. With this approach of modern medicine, a symptom is identified and treatment, such as pharmaceutical therapy or surgery, to target the specific symptom is applied. This approach has generally led us to rely on symptoms as key indicators of health or disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Naturopathic doctors truly recognize all complex factors that contribute to ones health and do not see health as simply the absence of symptoms or disease. As such, Naturopathic doctors treat patients as individuals by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows Naturopathic doctors to identify and treat the root cause of health concerns using natural, non-invasive therapies. Suppression of symptoms does not mean the cause has been eliminated.