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What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care system that uses modern scientific knowledge along with natural therapies such as clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy and traditional oriental medicine/acupuncture to stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal.  Naturopathic medicine addresses the physical, mental, emotional, environmental and spiritual aspects of health to identify and treat the root cause of illness.

An entertaining read about what naturopathic medicine is (and isn’t) in the Huffington Post.

The following principles underlie and unify the approach of naturopathic health care:

Primum Non Nocere: First do no harm

Vis Medicatrix Naturae: Nature acts powerfully through healing mechanisms in the body and mind to maintain and restore health.

Tolle Causam: The primary goal is to diagnose and treat the underlying cause rather than simply manage the symptoms.

Docere: Doctor as teacher to assist you in understanding health and illness.

Treat the whole person: Each person is unique and requires individualized care.  Health and disease come from a complex interaction of physical, emotional, dietary, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Preventative medicine: Naturopathic doctors apply all of the above principles in a proactive form of disease prevention and health promotion.  They emphasize healthy daily habits, assess risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions to prevent illness.  Health is more than just the absence of disease.  Health entails daily functioning on the highest possible levels and is obtained by proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. The capacity for optimal wellness or an improved quality of life is inherent in every body.

What are Naturopathic Doctors?

Naturopathic doctors are government recognized general practitioners trained in both natural therapies and pharmaceuticals.  NDs are trained in the conventional medical sciences to diagnose in a manner similar to Medical Doctors, but are also trained to recognize and treat functional conditions that may precede or be a consequence of a disease.  NDs cooperate with all other branches of medicine, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.

What do Naturopathic Doctors treat?

Naturopathic doctors are trained to treat all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological.  The human body has an innate ability to heal itself once obstacles are successfully removed; naturopathic medicine naturally and safely encourages this process.

Is naturopathic medicine right for me?

Naturopathic physicians excel at treating patients who are interested in disease prevention and optimizing their current state of health.  If you have a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis (e.g. fatigue, depression, pain, inability to lose weight, foggy-thinking, bad skin, etc.) or you are suffering from a chronic illness and are searching for additional or alternative solutions, naturopathic medicine can make a huge difference to your health issues and quality of life.  Naturopathic doctors also treat patients who want to maximize the effectiveness but minimize the side effects of drugs, surgery or other conventional treatments.

What training do Naturopathic Doctors receive?

They are required to complete at least three years of pre-medical studies before successfully graduating from a four-year program at an accredited naturopathic medical school.  This training includes more than 4,500 classroom and 1,500 clinical hours.  They are trained as primary care providers, meaning they are qualified to run laboratory tests, perform physical exams, diagnose, and treat all health conditions.  Compare the training of conventional medical and naturopathic doctorshere.

In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.

Is naturopathic medicine covered by MSP?

No.  However Naturopathic medical services are covered by most extended medical plans; it is best to contact your employer or health insurance provider to find out the scope of your coverage.

Can I visit both a naturopathic doctor (ND) and a medical doctor (MD)?

Yes.  Naturopathic and medical doctors often collaborate when a patient is under their care, allowing the patient to receive the best treatment possible.

Do I need a referral to make an appointment?

No referral is necessary to make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor.


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