Seeing an ND for the first time may be similar to seeing an MD—all primary care providers review health history and request standard diagnostic tests—but a consultation with an ND also encompasses a thorough assessment of personal health risks, including diet, exercise and stress.
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.
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.
Although some NDs do take a special interest in particular health conditions or specific patient groups. 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 complimentary cancer care. Some ND practices have a particular focus, but those are not the same as specialties.
NDs are primary health care practitioners, and can treat a wide variety of health concerns, including acute and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, or is outside of their regulated scope of practice, he or she will refer to another health care provider.
Virtually all acute and chronic conditions may benefit from treatment by naturopathic physicians. Medical emergencies are referred to the local hospital.
Naturopathic medicine emphasizes the promotion of health, prevention of disease, patient education and individual responsibility, arguably the most therapeutically cost-effective approaches to preventing and treating chronic disease. Doctors individualize treatment based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, blending centuries-old natural and non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering most aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. Treatments are continually re-examined in the light of scientific advances.
Most patients find there are three major benefits to seeing an ND: primary care prevention-oriented medicine; valid complementary approaches when other treatments are causing side effects; or chronic diseases for which conventional medicine has no effective treatment.
Ontario’s new Naturopathy Act received final approval in June 2007 and came into force in July 2015 bringing the regulation of Naturopathic Doctors under the Regulated Health Professions Act, with all of Ontario’s regulated health professions. Regulation changed significantly in 2015 but Naturopathic Medicine was previously regulated (since 1925) under Ontario’s Drugless Therapy Act.
Canadian Naturopathic Doctors are also regulated in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Naturopathic doctors must be registered to practice in Ontario with the regulator, the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO).
To verify that a naturopathic doctor is registered, call 416-866-8383 to reach CONO or at www.collegeofnaturopaths.on.ca.
In line with conventional medical training, training in naturopathic medicine requires a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education from a recognized school before being allowed to register as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in Ontario. She or he must have an undergraduate degree, have completed premedical undergraduate coursework, and have completed a four-year, accredited, naturopathic medical education. Graduates must pass two sets of provincial licensing board exams and are required to keep their registration current throughout their career by completing at least 70 hours every three years of approved continuing education.
Naturopathic education encompasses basic and diagnostic sciences – including anatomy, clinical physiology, biochemistry, pathology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, and lab diagnosis – as well as conventional and naturopathic approaches to improving and maintaining patients’ health.
Training and Disciplines
With over 4,100 hours of classroom training in basic bio-medical sciences, naturopathic principles, and therapeutics, as well as 1,200 hours of supervised clinical practicum. Training also includes standard medical therapeutics such as pharmacology, family medicine, internal medicine and extensive training in naturopathic treatments. Naturopathic Doctors receive extensive training in a variety of disciplines including the following:
Clinical Nutrition – Involves managing the amount of nutrients (i.e. protein, vitamins, and minerals) in a patient’s diet to create a healthy energy balance.
Acupuncture – A healing methodology that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into the skin.
Botanical Medicine – The study and use of medicinal properties of plants.
Asian Medicine – A broad range of medicinal practices sharing traditional concepts developed in China, including various forms of acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage (Tui na), exercise, and dietary therapy.
Physical Medicine – May include massage therapy or manipulative therapy.
Homeopathy – A form of alternative medicine based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of an illness in healthy people can help improve that illness in sick people.
Lifestyle Counselling – Providing support and enabling patients to make healthy choices in order to build and maintain health on all levels: mental, physical, social, and spiritual.
What to expect during a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor
The first visit with a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) may be one hour or more. Your Naturopathic Doctor will take an extensive patient history eliciting information about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, Your ND may then suggest further specialized testing. developing a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve your health goals.
Both are doctors, both provide primary care and both are similarly trained. The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients as individuals by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows naturopathic doctors to find and treat the cause of the disease using a variety of therapies. Conventional doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery.
Naturopathic medicine treats all health concerns for all ages from acute to chronic and physical to psychological. Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for the following types of patients:
Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness, often serious or chronic and are looking for treatment options. Naturopathic medicine is very effective for improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.
Naturopathic medicine was introduced in North America in 1902 by Dr. Benedict Lust. By 1920, naturopathic practice was well established in Canada. Laws regulating naturopathic practice were enacted in Ontario by 1925, in British Columbia in 1936, in Manitoba in 1943 and in Saskatchewan in 1952. The CAND has been representing the profession’s interests in Canada since 1955.
After the Second World War health care moved away from a more natural approach, focusing on the advances in surgical techniques, the introduction of antibiotics and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. In the last twenty years, public desire for greater control in the healthcare process and a growing dissatisfaction with high-tech solutions to health problems has resulted in a resurgent interest in the natural methods of preventive health care. This trend has increased demand for naturopathic services as people seek ways to improve their health, cope with day-to-day stresses and avoid illness.
Naturopathic medical education began in Canada in 1978 with the founding of the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (OCNM) in Toronto. In 1992, the College became the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). In 2000, the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine opened in British Columbia to provide further educational opportunities for students seeking training as naturopathic doctors.
Today, more people than ever before are seeking and benefiting from naturopathic medical care and the number of naturopathic doctors is growing at record rates to accommodate this increased demand. Currently there are naturopathic doctors practicing in every province and all but one territory in Canada. The more than 2,400 naturopathic doctors across the country continue to be an emerging answer to Canada’s health care concerns.
Naturopathic doctors are experiencing greater recognition as health care practitioners and as experts in the field of natural and preventive medicine. They provide leadership in natural medical research and are enjoy increasing politically activity at the federal, provincial and territorial levels. Positions for naturopathic doctors are opening up in hospitals, multi-disciplinary clinics and specialized health centres across Canada.
In Canada there are five provinces that have naturopathic regulations: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The Naturopathic Doctors Act of 2008 grants title protection for naturopathic doctors in the province of Nova Scotia. Almost of the other provinces and territories in which there are naturopathic doctors are also in the process of seeking regulation.
Currently, the naturopathic profession finds itself well positioned in health care. With more research emerging that supports the therapies used by naturopathic doctors, and the public demand for greater choice and increased access to more natural approaches to health care, naturopathic medicine is meeting the health needs of an ever increasing number of Canadians. Poised to make the transition from “alternative” medicine to “mainstream” medicine.
If you haven’t experienced the benefits of naturopathic medicine yourself, take the time to get a second opinion on your health by making an appointment with a naturopathic doctor in your area.