Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary health care that integrates current, evidence-based science and traditional philosophy into a unique form of treatment using natural therapies. Disease is often a symptom of an overwhelmed body trying to heal itself. We always seek to treat the underlying disease using natural, minimally interfering methods without simply masking symptoms.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are highly educated health care providers who graduate from accredited medical schools. We treat patients as the unique individuals they are, recognizing that health is not merely the absence of disease, but thriving in all areas of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes education and prevention, using natural therapies to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.
Treatments may include clinical nutrition, lifestyle counselling, botanical/herbal medicine, supplementation, acupuncture, traditional Asian medicine, homeopathic medicine, and physical therapies.
We also offer many lab tests that aren’t available through other practitioners helping to uncover the true reason of why you’re not feeling like your normal self. This helps ensure that we’re managing the cause of illness and disease and not providing temporary bandaid solutions.
Naturopathic Medicine- It’s real and it works
Using cutting edge, evidence-based medical treatments that most MDs don’t use yet, Naturopathic doctors are ahead of the curve, implementing the latest peer-reviewed studies when typically it takes 20 years for research to be reviewed, accepted, and implemented into traditional medical practice. Just because we use natural therapies instead of pharmaceuticals whenever we can doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t powerful and effective.
Naturopathic Medicine is safe
Our number one guiding principle is do no harm. The treatments we use have fewer side effects and fewer risks than most conventional treatments. We monitor for interactions between herbs, drugs, and nutrients and make sure that the treatments we give have been established as safe for you in your unique situation.
We know when to refer
Like most doctors, we don’t know everything about every topic. Sometimes, a case is outside of our scope of practice, or you may come in with a condition or concern that we don’t treat. In this case, we try our best to refer you to a health care provider who is able to treat you with the level of care you deserve.
We only recommend supplements you need
Supplementing your diet with micronutrients and concentrated doses of natural substances is very effective at getting your health back on track. NDs know what supplements will work for you, what drugs they interact with, when they’ve done their job and when they’re no longer needed. We only prescribe supplements for only as long as they’re needed- not a moment longer. My goal is always to get you feeling as good as you can, as quick as you can to minimize the length of time you’re taking a supplement.
NDs love their jobs!
Naturopathic doctors love helping people heal. We were drawn to the profession because we recognize that a holistic approach to health is best! Some of us healed our own illnesses with the help of naturopathic medicine, or we saw our friends and family heal from diseases they’d been told were impossible to heal from! Ask any ND why they love their job, and you’re bound to get a rich story!
How does an ND compare to an MD?
Naturopathic Doctors are real Doctors, we just think about medicine in a different way than most medical doctors do. We receive similar levels of training, and have similar diagnostic and assessment skills, but our system of medicine has a very different grounding philosophy. We think very differently from that of the traditional doctor.
Naturopathic doctors view symptoms of disease and illness as the body attempts to heal itself, or as a cry for help that it’s struggling to cope. We believe that natural and the least invasive therapies should be used first, and drugs and surgeries should only be used if absolutely necessary.
We recognize that health is not just the absence of disease, but is complete mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, and we strive to help patients meet their goals in all of those areas. We are highly trained primary health care providers who want to help you get better!
Naturopathic Doctors have a Similar Education as Medical Doctors
Both NDs and MDs attend 4-year intensive professional programs after completing very similar pre-med courses. Naturopathic colleges require students to have completed an undergraduate degree before starting medical school.
The basic and core clinical sciences that NDs and MDs learn in school are almost identical. Both NDs and MDs get around 1500 hours of training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, clinical physical diagnosis, genetics, pharmacology, microbiology, and other clinical science topics.
We also both learn dermatology, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, radiology, and other clinically focused topics.
As part of our curriculum, NDs complete between 1100 and 1500 hours in a clinical internship where we work with patients to apply our skills and develop treatment plans, the same way a medical doctor would.
Where Naturopathic Education & Training Differs
Naturopathic doctors also get hundreds of hours of training in our core methods, like botanical/herbal medicine, traditional Asian medicine and acupuncture, counselling, homeopathy, physical medicine, hydrotherapy, and clinical nutrition.
One major difference between NDs and MDs is the number of residencies available. Very few residencies are available for NDs and while more are becoming available, it isn’t a standard part of most NDs’ education currently. However, our thousands of hours of combined classroom and clinical training make sure we have the skills and the tools to practice safe, effective, natural medicine!
ND Licensing Exams
Naturopathic doctors seeking to get licensed in regulated provinces and states must have written a multi-step, standardized licensing exam called NPLEX. The first part of the exam tests core clinical sciences and is very similar to the USMLE Step 1 Medical Licensing Exam that MDs have to write. The second part of NPLEX is a comprehensive examination of therapeutic modalities and clinical treatments.
Individual provinces and states also have specific licensing exams to make sure we can confidently and safely treat you while following applicable laws, and in Alberta, we all pass a jurisprudence examination prior to practice.
Is a Naturopathic Doctor the Same as a Naturopath?
In short, no.
‘Naturopath’ is a non-professional term used by unlicensed practitioners. Although some of these practitioners have gone to school to learn about natural healing techniques, their education does not include the rigorous diagnostic and assessment training required to make their practice safe and effective, and certainly does not qualify them to be primary health care providers.
Make sure that your ND is able to show you their degree or diploma in Naturopathic Medicine, their license from a professional regulating body, and evidence of malpractice insurance.
If you want to find out why patients love naturopathic medicine, or want to hear my story about why I love my job, call and book an appointment now!