What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying or root cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as red flags of improper functioning of the body and most likely unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.
Treating both acute (rapid onset) and chronic (ongoing) conditions, naturopathic treatments are chosen based on the individual patient – incorporating their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environment and lifestyle factors. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments. Further explanation of each of these modalities can be found under the Naturopathic Therapies section.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
The primary goal of naturopathic treatment is to address the cause of the illness rather than simply treating or suppressing symptoms. While naturopathic care helps to alleviate specific symptoms, NDs are primarily concerned with addressing the root cause of an illness: the focus is more on the why of a disease than the what.
What is the difference between Homeopathy and Naturopathy?
- Naturopathic medicine is based on the ancient philosophy of Hippocrates over 2400 years ago. Hippocrates, known as the founder of medicine, believed in the healing power of nature, in the body’s potential to heal itself with the use of rest, a good diet, fresh air, and cleanliness. Naturopathic doctors treat patients as individuals, and thus each treatment is specifically designed to stimulate their body to heal itself. There are seven basic modalities that are part of the Naturopathic Doctors treatment options. Hydrotherapy, Homeopathy, Botanical Medicine, Nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Physical Medicine and Lifestyle counseling. Additional modalities can be utilized through continued education. These modalities include Bowen Therapy, Intravenous Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, to name a few.
- Homeopathy is based on the learnings of a German Physician in the early 1800s by the name of Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopathic remedies are derived from plants, animals, minerals and energetics. They are created by diluting these substances many times until all that remains is the “energetic blueprint” or “essence”. No actual chemical components remain. The concept of homeopathy is “like cures like” and its belief is that the use of a remedy would assist in the healing of a person with a specified disease the same way that the use of the raw material would affect a healthy person. For example, if one was to cut into a fresh onion, the main symptoms that would occur from such an action is running nose and watering eyes. Thus, taking Allium cepa (onion) could assist in someone with sinusitis due to the similar reaction that they would have. The homeopathic remedy Allium cepa would produce antibodies to help ward off the infection. Other factors would need to be addressed before prescribing a remedy to be efficient, however. Homeopathy is one modality that Naturopathic Doctors can use to assist in the treatment of the patient. However, a Homeopathic Doctor does not have the same choice of modalities and uses only homeopathy in their practice.
What kind of education and training does a Naturopathic Doctor go through before being licensed?
Like a conventional doctor, dentist, or chiropractor, the naturopathic doctor first completes pre-medical studies at university. The naturopathic student then enters into a four-year, full-time medical program at an accredited school of naturopathic medicine. Training includes basic, medical, and clinical science; diagnostics; naturopathic principles and therapeutics; and extensive clinical experience under the supervision of licensed naturopathic doctors. Graduates receive the title “N.D.” or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
Are all Naturopathic Doctors licensed, and if so, by what regulating body?
A licensed naturopathic doctor is one who practices in a regulated province or state or, if practicing in an unlicensed province or state, has obtained and maintains his/her license in a regulated province/state and has completed a four-year, full-time program at an accredited school of naturopathic medicine. Following the completion of an accredited program, NDs must successfully complete standardized North American Board exams known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) in order to qualify for licensing. To find out if a naturopathic doctor is licensed, either check with the naturopathic regulatory board of your province or contact the CAND (www.cand.ca) or the OAND (www.oand.org). CAND stands for the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, and the OAND stands for the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. Presently, the Naturopathic Doctors are regulated under the drugless practitioner’s act (DPA).
What kind of diseases do Naturopathic Doctors treat?
Naturopathic doctors are primary health care practitioners. They are trained to treat virtually all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people: 1) patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion, 2) patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis and 3) patients with chronic and severe illnesses.
Does OHIP cover a naturopathic visit?
Presently, OHIP does not cover Naturopathic Medicine. However, most extended health insurance plans in both Canada and the United States cover naturopathic treatments. Insured patients are encouraged to contact their employer or individual insurance brokers to determine if they are covered and/or to request that their policy is extended to include naturopathic services if it does not already do so. Since naturopathic doctors use alternatives to costly techniques and drug therapies, more insurance companies are beginning to investigate expanding coverage of this cost-effective treatment method. Naturopathic medicine is currently not covered by any of the provincial health plans.
Do you need a referral to get an appointment with a naturopathic Doctor?
No referrals are necessary. Rockwood Naturopathic Clinic is accepting new patients. Please call the clinic to make an appointment or for more information.
How much does a visit cost?
A naturopathic doctor’s consultation is based on an hourly rate. A first visit is often 1 – 1½ hours in length with subsequent visits ranging from 20 minutes to 60 minutes. Depending on the time spent with a naturopathic doctor, a patient may pay between $35 – $180. The CAND fee schedule is based on a rate of $125 – $180 per hour.
For a detailed outline of naturopathic service fees contact your Naturopathic Doctor’s office. The Fee structure at Rockwood Naturopathic Clinic is $150 for the first visit (1.5 hours) and $40-75 for follow up appointments. Please call the clinic to discuss rates for seniors and pediatrics.
Does a Naturopathic Doctor work with my medical doctor or do they have opposing positions?
Naturopathic doctors can and do work with conventional medical doctors. NDs are trained to refer patients to other health care practitioners, where appropriate. Most naturopathic doctors cross-refer extensively to other health care practitioners.
Are the modalities that Naturopathic Doctors use evidence based? How much research is behind these treatments? Are they safe?
Many naturopathic therapies have been developed out of a rich history of use and are validated by scientific research. For example, many herbs have been used effectively for centuries by various indigenous cultures. Current research supports the direct link between many health conditions and diet and stress. The research supporting naturopathic medicine continues to grow and incorporate new scientific findings.
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM – www.ccnm.edu) continues to conduct state-of-the-art research that is regularly published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The naturopathic profession supports research into the efficacy of the products and therapies used by NDs with their patients. The CCNM is currently involved in a number of research projects in collaboration with other naturopathic institutions and conventional medical schools around the world. For the question of safety, there are numerous statistics that demonstrate the safety of each of these modalities. However, care and caution must be utilized when prescribing and one must never self-prescribe without supervision by a licensed Naturopathic Doctor. More people die from pharmaceutical intervention and iatrogenic diseases (meaning medical intervention or drug treatment) than by Naturopathic care.