What is Naturopathic Medicine?
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).
Naturopathic medicine uses a wide variety of therapies to treat, support and uncover the root cause of patient health concerns. The focus of naturopathic care is centered on the individual, their current health (physical, emotional and spiritual), family history as well as lifestyle choices all of which informs the diagnosis and treatment plan offered by a naturopathic doctor.
The philosophy of naturopathic medicine is to work with the patient to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. In naturopathic medicine symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and lifestyle habits that may interfere with your optimal level of health.
Think of it as your gateway to optimal health. From food and nutrition, to stress reduction, to understanding your body’s unique chemistry, naturopathic medicine allows 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 the individual. Depending on the doctor’s approach and the needs of the individual patient, treatments may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, lifestyle counselling, Asian herbal medicine, and physical treatments such as acupuncture, or a combination of these.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of primary health care. There are six accredited schools of naturopathic medicine in North America.
Becoming a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) requires at least seven years of academic study. Licensed NDs will have completed a relevant undergraduate degree, followed by four years of rigorous training and practicum at an accredited North American institution for naturopathic medicine. Finally, prospective NDs are required to pass the North American standardized exam called the NPLEX. Naturopathic training includes courses in chemistry, botany, physiology, anatomy, and Asian medicine, just to name a few. Once they become registered professionals, NDs are then required to maintain their competency with ongoing continuing education courses that must be approved by the regulator.
NDs are trained in a variety of modalities and techniques, approaching each and every patient as an individual. NDs take the time to do a full history and screening of each patient and work collaboratively with your health team to get to the root of your health concern. Whether it’s environmental toxins, food allergies and sensitivities or a hormone imbalance, your ND’s bottom line is to help you achieve your optimum level of health.
Training and Disciplines
With over 3,000 hours of classroom training and 1,200 hours of supervised clinical experience, naturopathic doctors receive extensive training in a variety of disciplines.
In Ontario, naturopathic doctors offer alternative avenues for access to primary health care and health promotion. Naturopathic doctors can provide early diagnosis of, and treatment for, many health-related conditions. With the ability to requisition blood tests, perform physical examinations and order additional lab testing, naturopathic doctors can obtain comprehensive insight into an individual’s health status. With specialized post-graduate training, naturopathic doctors may also become licensed to provide IV (intravenous) vitamin nutrition.
What to expect during a visit with a naturopathic doctor
Your first visit with a naturopathic doctor may be one hour or more. Your naturopath will take an extensive patient history eliciting information about your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health before performing a complaint-oriented physical exam. If required, your naturopathic doctor may then suggest further specialized testing including blood tests. By using one or more of the disciplines (clinical nutrition, acupuncture, botanical medicine, Asian medicine, physical medicine, lifestyle counselling and homeopathy) your naturopathic doctor, with your input, will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve your health goals.
Naturopathic doctors are regulated in the province of Ontario.
Working with your health care team
Because naturopathic doctors are highly educated primary care providers who integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies, they have become an integral part of health care teams.