Naturopathic medicine combines modern research and medical diagnostics, with natural, time tested therapies that help the body use its own defences to heal and promote optimal lifelong wellness. A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) places emphasis on natural treatment options, in addition to educating people about their health and well being. The goal is to address the root cause of illness and involve the patient in their own health; empowering them to pursue avenues of prevention and to continuously enhance personal growth and awareness.
Naturopathic Doctors hold at least seven years of post secondary education; one university undergraduate degree followed by a four year full-time naturopathic medicine program that is accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The program consists of over 4200 hours of classroom and clinical training, including courses in bio-medical sciences, naturopathic sciences, clinical sciences and clinical education. In Ontario, licensed NDs are required to complete a series of standardized board exams that are regulated by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N), in addition to the North American standardized Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exams (NPLEX). In order to maintain licensure, continuing medical education credits are mandatory.
Principles of Naturopathic
- First, to do no harm; using diagnostic tools and therapeutic medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
- To treat the causes of disease; as not to simply suppress symptoms, but rather use them as clues to the possible underlying mechanisms that contribute to the diseased state.
- Doctor as teacher; through a dynamic education process that strives towards personal empowerment and optimal lifelong wellness.
- To heal the whole person through comprehensive, individualized treatment approaches; considering the unique characteristics of an individual and customizing treatment plans accordingly.
- To emphasize prevention; promoting lifelong wellness through naturopathic modalities, education, and healthy lifestyle choices.
- To utilize the healing power of nature; embracing medicines in nature that work synergistically with the human body to promote lifelong wellness.
Clinical Nutrition An individualized, comprehensive analysis of your health is taken and carefully examined. Holistic nutritional interventions are recommended through diet and/or nutritional supplementation to provide preventative and therapeutic strategies towards optimal wellness.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
A Naturopathic Doctor is extensively trained in the ancient healing system of Traditional Chinese Medicine. ND’s are subjected to rigorous acupuncture examinations from both theoretical and practical standpoints throughout the 4 year program, which includes one full year of intense supervised clinical experience using acupuncture needles for a variety of ailments. This remarkably time tested form of medicine incorporates the mind, body, and Qi (your vitality or life energy) with the healing power of nature. In combination with dietary advice and herbal preparations, ND’s administer acupuncture treatments according to the theorem of TCM diagnosis and the unique constitution of an individual.
Botanical (Herbal) Medicine
Naturopathic Doctors are extensively trained in prescribing and dispensing herbal medicines that exist in nature. Botanical medicines often have very similar pharmacological properties as modern medicinal drugs, however typically hold fewer and milder side effects; if any at all. Naturopathic Doctors consider the unique constitution of an individual when customizing herbal treatment preparations, and carefully evaluate for possible adverse reactions and/or interactions with other natural as well as pharmaceutical medicines.
Naturopathic Doctors. Perform thorough physical examinations, evaluating for possible misalignments/imbalances. Advice/treatments may be offered both during a visit and/or recommended for home care. Treatments are geared towards providing people with customized exercise regimes to promote enhancing athletic performance and/or rehabilitation.
Naturopathic Medicine attempts to integrate both mind and body to restore and maintain balance. Individualized risk factors (genetic, environmental, lifestyle) are carefully assessed and a comprehensive program is created so that you may develop positive habits that benefit your overall well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
About Naturopathic Doctors
How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine? Naturopathic Medicine uses natural therapies to address the underlying cause of disease. These therapies often have fewer, if any side effects in comparison with conventional pharmaceutical and/or surgical interventions, and ultimately work with the body’s own healing mechanisms to fight off disease.
What can I expect when I visit a Naturopathic Doctor
Your first Naturopathic visit includes a complaint oriented physical exam and a detailed intake concerning your individual goals. The visit usually takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. Your ND may prescribe on the first visit and will give an explanation of where the treatment plan is headed based on the available information. Your ND may recommend specific lab tests, which may be obtained through a private laboratory or your Medical Doctor.
Are Naturopathic Doctors regulated in Ontario?
Yes. In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors are the only health professionals that are regulated within the field of natural medicine. The Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N) and the 1925 Drugless Therapy Act ensures that Naturopathic Doctors are properly quality to practice Naturopathic Medicine and that they adhere to certain standards of practice.
A more recent Naturopathy Act was approved in June, 2007 and will be fully implemented following a widespread transition process. Regulation will be moved by the Naturopathy Act to the Regulated Health Professions Act, amalgamating all other regulated health professionals. It also authenticates the current scope of practice for Naturopathic Doctors as primary care providers who are able to provide diagnoses and obtain access to key controlled acts.
How can I tell if someone is qualified as a Naturopathic Doctor?
In Ontario, the public may contact the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N) at 416-866-8383 to verify that a Naturopathic Doctor is registered to practice in the province. The BDDT-N is the regulatory body that registers Naturopathic Doctors to practice in Ontario. In addition, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors only accepts registered Naturopathic Doctors as members and can also be reached at 416-496-8633.
How does one become a registered Naturopathic Doctor in Ontario?
Naturopathic Doctors first complete a university undergraduate degree, which includes six specific pre-requisite courses. An approximate overall GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale must be achieved in order to gain acceptance to the 4 year full-time Naturopathic Program at the accredited Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).
The rigorous program encompasses over 4,500 hours of classroom training in basic medical science courses, clinical sciences and naturopathic therapies as well as 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience.
CCNM graduates earn the designation of Naturopathic Doctor (ND).
Following graduation, NDs must successfully complete the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) in order to qualify for licensing in Ontario. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all regulated provinces and states across North America. Additionally, they must successfully complete the Ontario Board Exams, governed by the BDDT-N in order to practice Naturopathic Medicine in Ontario.
NDs are also required to earn continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain their registration and good standing with the regulatory body.
Are there any distance education courses I can take to become an ND?
No. As specified in the academic requirements above, achieving the designation of Naturopathic Doctor, one must successfully complete intensive and rigorous training comparable to that of Medical Doctors. Although correspondence courses can be effective in many disciplines, they are not adequate for preparing students to practice as licensed Naturopathic Doctors.