Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct primary healthcare system that emphasizes prevention of disease, treating the cause of symptoms, encouragement of the body’s innate healing abilities, treatment of the whole person and personal responsibility for one’s own health. While firmly science-based, modern naturopathic medicine also preserves the centuries-old wisdom of successful natural therapies. Naturopathic physicians diagnose disease and treat patients by using natural modalities such as clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy, among others. They choose treatments based on the individual needs of the patient, not solely on the generality of symptoms.
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished from other types of medicine by the principles that underlie and determine its practice:
First Do No Harm: Naturopathic Doctors work to restore balance in a safe, gentle, and effective way with non-invasive treatments, minimizing the potential for side effects. NDs also aim to avoid symptom suppression, which can do more harm than good in the long-term.
Doctor as Teacher: A Naturopathic Doctor believes that patient education gives the patient the power to take responsibility for their own health.
The Healing Power of Nature: The human body possesses natural, inherent healing mechanisms to restore health. The Naturopathic Doctor’s role is to support and facilitate this process with the use of natural, safe, and effective remedies.
Identify and Treat the Cause: The Naturopathic Doctor’s number one goal is to identify and remove the cause of your symptoms. This is the only way to attain sustainable and long-term symptom resolution and the restoration of health.
Treat the Whole Person through Individualized Treatment: One size does not fit all when it comes to health and healing. We are all incredibly unique and complex and in order for true healing to take place, Naturopathic Doctors thoroughly assess the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their patients in order to choose the most appropriate therapies.
Prevention is the best cure: The most prevalent chronic degenerative diseases today such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer can absolutely be prevented with the right lifestyle choices. Naturopathic Doctors are preventive medicine specialists and believe that the choices we make today can have a profound effect on our health and sense of well-being in the future.
Licensed naturopathic doctors require a minimum of seven years of post-graduate education. This is composed of at least three years of pre-medical study at a university, which is then followed by entrance into a four-year, full-time program at one of six accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America. The program involves four years of graduate level study in the medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, differential diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, immunology, cardiology, radiology, gynecology, dermatology, pediatrics and other clinical sciences. Students also receive intensive training in naturopathic therapeutics such as clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and lifestyle counseling. Training for a degree in naturopathic medicine also includes over 500 hours of clinical training in outpatient clinics. For further information on the qualifications and training of Naturopathic Physicians , visit the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) website and follow the Questions link.
How is Naturopathic Medicine different from conventional medicine?
Both Naturopathic and Medical Doctors are trained in the sciences and disease diagnosis and can both be considered primary care physicians, but they differ in their medical approach and philosophy and methods of treatments prescribed.
Homeopathic medicine is one of the therapies that naturopathic doctors may integrate into a total treatment program. Homeopathy was developed in Germany in the 1700s and is based on the principle of “like cures like", using minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body's self-healing abilities. Naturopathic doctors are trained in homeopathy as part of their educational program.
In Ontario, the public can contact the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (www.boardofnaturopathicmedicine.on.ca) to verify that a naturopathic doctor is registered to practice in the province. The BDDTN is the regulatory body that registers naturopathic doctors to practice in Ontario.