FAQs

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a unique and comprehensive approach to improving health and treating illness. Focusing on prevention, and using natural substances and treatments, naturopathic doctors (NDs) support and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.

The primary goal of naturopathic treatment is to address the cause of illness, rather than simply treat or suppress symptoms. The patient is seen as a whole person and the ND takes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions into account when diagnosing and developing a treatment plan.

The primary therapies used by naturopathic doctors are: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, traditional chinese medicine concepts, physical therapies and counselling.

In some provinces NDs are authorized to prescribe certain pharmaceutical medications and to perform minor surgery.

Naturopathic doctors are guided by six principles. This set of principles, emphasized throughout a naturopathic doctor’s training, outlines the naturopathic approach to health and healing and forms the foundation of this distinct form of health care

  1. Primum non nocere – do no harm, effective health care with the least risk for all patients
  2. Vis medicatrix naturae – healing power of nature, respect and promote self-healing
  3. Tolle causum – treat the cause, identify and remove causes, avoid suppression of symptoms
  4. Docere – doctor as teacher, educate patients, inspire rational hope, encourage self-responsibility
  5. Treat the whole person – each person is unique with their own factors effecting their health
  6. Health promotion is the best prevention – well-being includes health individually, in the community and globally

What Can I Expect When I Visit A Naturopathic Doctor?

The goal of the naturopathic doctor is to understand the patient and all the factors which impact on his/her health. The ND will take an in-depth patient history. In addition, the information from the physical exam and laboratory tests may assist in making an assessment and diagnosis.

A personal treatment plan will then be proposed to help facilitate your healing process.

How Are NDs Trained?

NDs take a minimum of three years premedical studies at university with a cumulative GPA of 3 (4 point scale), followed by 4-year full-time program at an accredited school of Naturopathic Medicine.  The accredited program includes 4,500 hours of classroom training and 1,500 hours of clinical experience supervised by regulated Naturopathic doctors.

The education encompasses:

  • Basic Medical Sciences – including anatomy, physiology, histology, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology and pathology.
  • Clinical Medical diagnostics– including physical and clinical diagnosis, differential and lab diagnosis, radiology, naturopathic assessment and orthopaedics.
  • Naturopathic principles and therapeutics – including Clinical Nutrition, botanical Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Homeopathic Medicine, Hydrotherapy and Lifestyle Counselling.
  • 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience – all clinicians must demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of Naturopathic Medicine prior to graduation.

To be a Registered Naturopathic Doctor, an ND must:

  • Pass NPLEX Board Exams – Basic & Clinical Sciences written after 2ndyear of naturopathic college (full day of exams) and Clinical Diagnosis and Therapeutics after graduation (4 days of intensive exams).  NPLEX is the examination body used by all licensing jurisdictions for Naturopathic doctors in North America.
  • Successfully complete practical and jurisprudence exams for provincial regulatory boards/colleges
  • Fulfill all Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits and Continuing Competency (CC) requirements set by the provincial regulatory boards on an on-going yearly basis.

There are seven accredited schools of naturopathic medicine in North America:

Graduates from these institutions receive a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree or diploma. In regulated (licensed) provinces and states across North America, graduates must also pass rigorous standardized exams to qualify for practice. In Canada, NDs are regulated in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Legislation is pending in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Is Naturopathic Medicine Scientific?

Thousands of modern clinical studies have validated a variety of natural medicines used by NDs: Echinacea for the immune system and St. John’s Wart for depression are just two examples. Naturopathic schools encourage and facilitate research.

It is important to note that, since most naturopathic remedies are not patentable, manufacturers find little financial incentive in costly scientific studies. Thus, funding from independent sources is essential for scientific validation of naturopathic treatments.

Is Naturopathic Medicine Safe?

The safety record for naturopathic medicine is excellent. This makes sense given the emphasis on non-toxic, natural source medicines and gentle, non-invasive treatments. Side effects are rare and NDs are knowledgeable about contraindications between naturopathic remedies and conventional medicines.

In addition, NDs are trained to recognize conditions which are outside their scope of practice and to refer to other health practitioners when it is appropriate to do so.

Is Homeopathic Medicine Different?

Homeopathic medicine is one of the therapies that naturopathic doctors integrate into a total treatment program. A homeopathic practitioner, however, use only a homeopathic approach whereas NDs integrate their homeopathic protocols into an integrated naturopathic approach. Naturopathic doctors are the only health care professionals trained in homeopathy as part of their standard educational program and examined in homeopathy for registration (or licensing) purposes.

Do NDs Interact With Other Health Professionals?

Naturopathic treatments are often combined with conventional medical treatments. It is becoming more common to find NDs working with other health professionals for the good of the patient. NDs also refer patients to other practitioners including medical doctors, chiropractors, dentists, physiotherapists, massage therapists and midwives.

Do NDs Specialize?

Many NDs take additional postgraduate training in specific therapies and focus their practices on those treatments. The most common areas are nutrition, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, and botanical medicine. In some jurisdictions including Alberta, NDs may obtain post-graduate certification in the use of intravenous therapies including ozone and chelation. Patients should check with individual NDs to find out more about the focus of their practice.

What Does It Cost To Visit A Naturopathic Doctor?

Fee schedules vary somewhat depending on the province, as well as on the ND’s practice focus and the length of the visit.  The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors also publishes a suggested fee guide and many NDs publish their fees schedules on their websites

Many private health plans cover a portion of naturopathic treatments. Patients are encouraged to request that the policy their company purchases include coverage of all naturopathic services.

What Can I Expect When I Visit A Naturopathic Doctor?

The goal of the naturopathic doctor is to understand the patient and all the factors which impact on his/her health. The ND will take an in-depth patient history. In addition, the information from the physical exam and laboratory tests may assist in making an assessment and diagnosis.

A personal treatment plan will then be proposed to help facilitate your healing process.