What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care profession. Naturopathic doctors are educated in a four-year medical program that combines both conventional medical courses ( i.e. anatomy, physiology, immunology, pharmacology ) as well as courses that combine other modes or methods of treatment ( i.e. traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, botanical [ herbal ] medicine ), nutrition). Naturopathic doctors at minimum have a 3-year post-secondary university level degree with basic science courses on top of their 4 year medical school courses, and such most naturopathic doctors have been in school for at least 7 years. All naturopathic doctors in North America write board exams and perform clinical board examinations in order to become licensed in their province ( or state ).
Naturopathic doctors are qualified to send out for laboratory testing, and some naturopathic doctors have laboratories in their clinics. All naturopathic doctors perform physical exams. Naturopathic doctors are currently regulated under the Drugless Practitioners Act, and governed by the Board of Drugless Practitioners –Naturopathy. Naturopathic doctors are educated to prescribe pharmaceutical medications, but in Ontario are not currently regulated to do so as in other provinces and in the United States. The Transitional Council of Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario is involved in opening this treatment for naturopathic doctors in Ontario. Until then, this does mean that naturopathic doctors safely prescribe vitamins or nutrients that will not interact with your medications.
As naturopathic doctors are not covered by OHIP but are covered with a majority of private insurance companies, naturopathic doctors will work in conjunction with other regulated health care providers to ensure comprehensive and effective patient-centred treatment.
What types of treatments are administered by a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic doctors have many ways to assist with improving your health; however this treatment will vary from patient to patient based on their personal needs. Techniques and implements that can be used by a naturopathic doctor include:
Explores the relationship between diet and health. Treatment may include dietary modification and nutritional supplementation such as vitamins or minerals. If in-depth nutritional counselling is required, a referral to a nutritionist may be considered.
Botanical ( Herbal ) Medicine
This is where our current pharmaceuticals or drug therapies have their origins — from plants. Many plant extractions through dried herbs (in capsule form), liquid forms (called tinctures), and teas can be used to support your body and to treat a variety of medical conditions. Most importantly, not all qualities of herb are the same, and as such there is a reason for specific prescriptions.
Traditional Asian Medicine
Based on balancing the flow of Qi ( pronounced “chi” ) or what is considered the energy in the body through lines or pathways called meridians. Conventional medicine does understand meridians and Qi as what we know as our nervous system.
Refers to the insertion of sterile disposable needles through the skin into underlying tissues at specific points along our nervous system or along meridians. For acupuncture to be truly effective, dietary advice and herbal prescriptions are included.
Involves identifying risk factors and making recommendations to help optimize one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. This may simply involve you and your naturopathic doctor identifying patterns or triggers that contribute negatively to your health, or may involve the referral to a qualified and trusted psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist that can be a supportive part of your health care team. Your body and your mind live in the same place, and if one is imbalanced, the other cannot be stabilized.
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like” and uses minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate the self-healing abilities of the body.
Includes the use of hands-on techniques to manipulate the spine, joints and soft tissues. Biopuncture therapy, the act of injecting substances into the tissues to relieve pain, may also be used to help facilitate healing when applicable in the office. Some techniques will be taught for you to perform at home to continue therapeutic protocols and goals outside of the office.