What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a health care system that focuses on determining and treating the root cause of illness in an effort to heal the body fully. It is rooted in centuries of healing traditions, and is validated by emerging scientific research. Naturopathic doctors are trained to provide individualized health care for a wide array of conditions, and work collaboratively with conventional healthcare providers to ensure that the patient's health is optimized.
Naturopathic doctors have a minimum of 8 years of post-secondary education, including training at an accredited naturopathic medical institution after achieving a university degree. This education is highly rigorous and involves the successful completion of licensing and board certification examinations. Treatments may include herbal medicine, nutrition & dietary counselling, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and lifestyle management.
How does naturopathic medicine differ from conventional medicine?
A naturopathic doctor, similar to your family doctor, is trained to care for health conditions using information from your health interview, laboratory tests and physical exams. The main difference is in an ND's approach to treatment - naturopathic doctors are experts in natural health treatments, such as those you would find in a health food store. This includes vitamins & supplements, herbs, acupuncture, and diet and lifestyle counseling.
If I see an ND, does that mean I must stop taking my medications or stop seeing my family doctor?
Absolutely not! The ideal situation is having BOTH an ND and family doctor who work together to improve your overall health. Never change or discontinue your medications without the supervision of the prescribing physician (your family doctor or specialist). If your goal is to stop taking medications, an ND can certainly support your body with safe and effective alternative treatments, however any changes are made in collaboration with your family doctor.
Why do I need to see an ND? Can't I buy my natural health products directly from a health food store?
Although naturopathic treatments typically have less safety concerns compared to pharmaceutical drugs, this does not mean they are absolutely safe - in fact, some may actually be detrimental to your health. Never self-medicate natural health products without consulting a naturopathic doctor - you may be wasting your money on ineffective products, or worse yet, causing unnecessary harm to your body.
Are ND visits or prescriptions covered by OHIP?
No, OHIP does not cover naturopathic consultations or prescriptions. Patients typically pay for visits through their private insurance benefits. Inquire with your insurance provider about naturopathic coverage. Naturopathic prescriptions, much like over-the-counter medications, are not covered by OHIP or private insurance.
What can I expect in my initial naturopathic visit?
A typical first visit includes an in-depth discussion about your health concerns and medical history, a physical examination, and an overview of your preliminary treatment plan. It may also involve pertinent laboratory testing for the investigation of food allergies, hormones, digestive function, or other health parameters related to your medical concerns.
Are naturopathic treatments safe? Is there any research supporting these treatments?
Not all natural health treatments are safe, but an ND is trained to determine the safest and most effective treatments for your individual health concerns. Always consult an ND before taking any new health product to ensure your safety. There is a wealth of research to support the use of naturopathic treatments and it continues to grow and evolve, allowing NDs to provide the best available treatments to help patients with their health.