What is Naturopathic Medicine and how does it differ from conventional medicine?

The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach to health and the treatments used. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients as individuals by addressing the lifestyle, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental aspects of health. This allows your ND to find and treat the cause of the disease using natural, non-invasive therapies. The goal with naturopathic medicine is to find the root cause of illness and support the body’s natural ability to heal.

Why would I need to see a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) if I already have a primary care doctor?

Many reasons. NDs do very different things than MDs. Let us help you investigate why you developed your illness and work to prevent progression of your current diagnosis. Depending on your condition, we can try to achieve a true cure, meaning life without daily medication or supplements if possible. We can also help you regain a sense of power over your health, to feel like YOU can have an impact on your illness.

What’s the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor and a Homeopath?

Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners of natural medicine. NDs must complete a University undergraduate degree as well as an accredited four-year full-time Naturopathic Medicine Program.   Depending on a patient’s health needs, a naturopathic doctor may include homeopathy in an individualized treatment plan, but it is only one of many treatment methods NDs are trained to use.   NDs in Ontario must be registered and licensed through the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy and are governed under the Drugless Practitioners Act. Homeopaths are trained solely in homeopathy and do not use other treatment methods. They must have completed high school as well as a minimum of two years at either college or university. They are not required to have a university degree. The Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine offers three- or four-year programs that consist of 18 weekend classes each year.

How can Naturopathic Medicine help me?

Not only can Naturopathic Medicine help resolve symptoms, but it can also help uncover the root cause of your illness We can help you understand your body’s unique chemistry and Identify blockages that are preventing your body from healing. We can also Improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with illnesses, boost your immune system, increase energy and prevent/treat chronic disease.

Is Naturopathic Medicine covered by OHIP?

While naturopathic medicine is not covered by OHIP, it is covered by many extended healthcare benefit packages. Sun Life, Great West Life and Manulife all offer packages with coverage for naturopathic medical care. Please contact your employer or insurance provider to determine your level of coverage. We will happily provide you with an invoice that can be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.

What kind of training do NDs have?

To obtain a naturopathic medical credential (ND) that qualifies the recipient to sit for licensing examination students must have the following:

  • Prerequisites including university pre-medical sciences. Prerequisite courses: biology, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, introductory psychology and humanities.
  • Successfully complete a 4-year-full time program in an accredited school of Naturopathic Medicine that includes more than 4,500 hours of classroom training and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • Pass NPLEX board exams that are written after the 2nd year and 4th year of study. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all licensing jurisdictions for Naturopathic doctors in North America.
  • Meet the Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits as required by the provincial regulatory boards on an ongoing basis.

Areas of Training

Naturopathic Doctors undergo training similar to medical doctors plus they include the naturopathic disciplines. The four areas of training in the four year, full-time Naturopathic Medicine curriculum are:

  • Basic Sciences – This area of study includes anatomy, physiology, histology, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology and pathology.
  • Clinical Disciplines – Diagnostic medicine areas of study are physical and clinical diagnosis, differential and laboratory diagnosis, radiology, naturopathic assessment and orthopaedics.
  • Naturopathic Disciplines – There are six major disciplines that define the areas of naturopathic practice. Each discipline is a distinct area of practice and includes both diagnostic principles and practices as well as therapeutic skills and techniques. They include: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulation and lifestyle counselling.
  • Clinical Experience – All students must complete 1,500 hours of clinical requirements and demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of Naturopathic Medicine prior to graduation.

Do I need a referral to see an ND?

No you do not. You may simply call the clinic and book an appointment. Although many people schedule a visit with an ND for a particular condition, many also simply book an appointment to discuss prevention and wellness.

How many visits will it take for me to get better?

That depends on your condition and your health goals. The speed at which people improve varies from person to person. Please remember that we are not treating symptoms, but the underlying causes. Sometimes when treating the underlying causes, symptoms improve rapidly; other times it can take some time. However, most people report feeling a general improvement in mood and demeanour, greater sense of well-being, feeling more calm and at ease, and improved energy. During our visits we will discuss your particular situation thoroughly and give you our best recommendations for your timeline depending on your goals.

What if I’m taking prescription medication?

That’s not a problem. Naturopathic Doctors have training in pharmacology and write North American Pharmacology board exams. We also have training in the potential interactions between prescription medication and any of the therapies (herbal medicine, vitamins, minerals, etc) we provide. Please write down or bring your medications to your visits so we can ensure that there are no interactions between your natural and drug prescriptions.

Do I need to have a specific concern?

No, you do not need to have a specific concern. Naturopathic Medicine does not only address specific conditions but strives to be preventive and sustainable in its actions. Many people wish to simply optimize their health and focus on prevention. We will provide you with valuable information to ensure that you stay well and reduce your future risk of chronic disease.