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What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine starts with supporting the body in its amazing ability to heal itself. By looking at the root causes of illness rather than just the symptoms, and promoting healing through natural therapies, naturopathic medicine is a successful non-invasive way to prevent chronic illness as well as reduce reliance upon prescription medications (and all of their side effects). Think of it as your gateway to optimal health. From diet and exercise, to understanding your body’s unique chemistry, naturopathic medicine aims you to boost your immune system, prevent and treat chronic disease and increase your overall energy level.
Naturopathic treatment draws from a number of modalities and is tailored to each individual patient. Depending on the doctor’s approach and patient being treated, treatments may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical treatments, acupuncture and Asian medicine, lifestyle counseling, or a combination of these.
Is naturopathic medicine the same as homeopathy?
No. Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners of natural medicine. 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. Homeopaths are trained solely in homeopathy and do not use other treatment methods.
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What is a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic doctors are provincially-regulated primary care providers. With extensive education, including a pre-med degree and four years of training at an accredited naturopathic college, NDs integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies. NDs are eclectic, each with a slightly different approach, but they all believe that balancing the mind, body and environment is the path to optimal health because it supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors are also experts at early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and their personalized treatment plans work with each individual patient’s lifestyle and body chemistry.
What can I expect from my first visit to a naturopathic doctor?
During the first visit, your ND wants to get to know you as a person, what your health goals are and how you have managed your health in the past. Expect to be there for an hour or more to give your ND adequate time to complete the picture. As well as performing a physical exam based on your health complaints, your ND will also ask you about your mental, emotional and spiritual health, your diet and lifestyle, and treatments you may be receiving from other health care providers. By the end of the visit, your ND will present an individualized treatment plan and may suggest further testing.
How do I pay for a visit to a naturopathic doctor?
Currently, OHIP does not cover visits to a naturopathic doctor. However, most extended healthcare plans include naturopathic medicine, so check with your provider to see the amount of your coverage.
Do naturopathic doctors have specialties?
Not really, although some NDs do take a special interest in particular health conditions or treatment modalities. Currently, there are no specialist-level educational programs offered by naturopathic colleges. However, in addition to maintaining their continuing education requirements, many NDs pursue extended training in a particular area, such as environmental medicine, infusion therapy, or cancer care. This is not considered specialization, however, because naturopathic medicine is always holistic and patient-centred.
What conditions can naturopathic doctors treat?
NDs are primary healthcare practitioners, and can treat the same conditions as a family doctor, including acute concerns and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, he or she will consult or refer appropriately.
Are there naturopathic doctors who are also medical doctors?
No. None of Ontario’s naturopathic doctors are licensed medical doctors. There are some NDs in Ontario who were medical doctors before coming to Canada, and then decided to train as NDs once they arrived here, but they are not licensed as MDs in Canada. There are also some medical doctors who have an interest in natural therapies and integrative health care, but they do not have specialized training in all of the disciplines covered by naturopathic medicine and are not registered NDs.
Are naturopathic doctors regulated in Ontario?
Yes. Naturopathic doctors are regulated in Ontario under the 1925 Drugless Therapy Act and are registered (licensed) by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N). The BDDT-N’s mandate is to ensure that naturopathic doctors are properly qualified to practice naturopathic medicine and that they follow the appropriate standards of practice.
Ontario’s new Naturopathy Act received final approval in June 2007 and will come into full effect following an extensive transition process. Once the transition is complete and the College of Naturopathy is established, naturopathic doctors will be regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, joining all other regulated health professions.
Canadian naturopathic doctors are also regulated in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
How do I confirm a naturopathic doctor’s qualifications?
Naturopathic doctors must be registered to practice in Ontario and to be accepted as a member of OAND. To verify that a naturopathic doctor is registered, call 416-866-8383 to reach the regulatory body for Ontario NDs, or 416-233-2001 to reach the OAND.