An Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Naturopathic Medicine? Primary care medicine that merges traditional therapies with modern medicine, focusing on helping people become and stay healthy ie. Preventative medicine.  Although many therapies have a long history of use, doctor’s trained in naturopathic medicine rely on clinical observations and evidence based medicine to treat their patients.Naturopathic medicine is holistic and patient-centred; not disease or complaint driven.

Is Naturopathic Medicine a regulated profession? Yes. Graduates of Naturopathic medical colleges across North America must successfully complete 2 sets of licensing examinations in order to practice and use the title of Naturopathic Doctor.  Furthermore, Ontario also requires 3 separate licensing examinations specifically for NDs wanting to practice in Ontario.  Lastly, in order for an ND to keep their license, specific continuing education courses or seminars must be completed every 3 years in order to keep up to date with current research and standards of practice. As a regulated profession, NDs are accountable for their conduct and practice.

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.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor? Naturopathic Doctors or NDs are experts in natural medicine and lifestyle medicine. Regulated healthcare professionals (RHPA) and are considered primary health care providers. They are able to diagnose medical diseases and treat them through their use of natural therapies.With over 4,100 hours of classroom training in basic medical science courses, naturopathic principles, and therapeutics, as well as 1,200 hours of supervised clinical practicum, Naturopathic Doctors receive extensive training in a variety of disciplines.

How are NDs trained?Must complete a minimum of 3 year undergraduate degree program in pre-medical studies (or higher degree) for admission in Naturopathic Medical College. Must complete Naturopathic medical school (4 year full-time program) and obtained a degree in Naturopathic Medicine with a year-long supervised clinical residency.In naturopathic programs, NDs study the same basic medical and clinical sciences as other health care professionals, like MDs or RNs.  For information on becoming an ND, or the requirements to practice in Ontario, please visit the websites of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors or the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

What type(s) of medicine are used by Naturopathic Doctors? Typically considered in the realm of complementary or alternative medicine with treatment recommendations including diet, lifestyle, clinical nutrition, nutritional supplements, botanical medicines, acupuncture, physical therapy, counseling, etc.

Do I have to choose between Naturopathic Medicine or Conventional Medicine?  No. Naturopathic medicine bridges the gap for truly integrative medicine. NDs work alongside medical doctors to benefit patients.

Is Naturopathic Medicine covered by OHIP? No, however naturopathic medical services are covered through many health benefit plans offered by many extended health insurance providers including, Greenshield Canada, Great West Life, Manulife, Sunlife etc. Check with your benefit provider to determine what sort of coverage you may have.

What can I expect during an initial consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor?Athorough medical history including personal and family history with exploration of all relevant aspects of patient’s lifestyle will take place.  A routine physical exam and/or diagnostic laboratory tests may be recommended to establish a diagnosis. At the end of the consultation, the ND will have recommended an individualized treatment plan while fully explaining medical care and answer any health questions.  Typically initial consultations last 1-1.5 hours.

What are the conditions commonly treated by Naturopathic Doctors? Naturopaths are trained to treat sudden non life-threatening illnesses including common cold/flu, gastrointestinal infections, ear infections, genitourinary infections etc. as well as chronic conditions including:

  • Skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis)
  • Digestive concerns (e.g., reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, ulcers, diverticulitis, colitis)
  • Immune-related concerns (e.g., asthma, allergies)
  • Thyroid concerns (hyper- and hypothyroidism)
  • Mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety)
  • Cardiovascular disease (e.g., high blood pressure, lipids, etc.)
  • Diabetes and blood sugar concerns
  • Insomnia
  • Reproductive concerns (Menopause symptoms, male and female infertility, PMS, PCOS)
  • Musculoskeletal pain and Neurological diseases