Frequently Asked Questions

Your Questions, Answered

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 andtreat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.

What kind of education does a naturopath have?

Education varies depending on the country. The accredited education for a Naturopathic Doctor in Canada and America is equivalent to that of a medical general practitioner. They are highly educated primary care providers who integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies. 

This education includes:

  • prerequisites including 3 years of pre-medical sciences at a University with a cumulative grade point average 3.00 on a four point scale. Prerequisite courses: biology, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, introductory psychology and humanities. 

  • successful completion of a 4-year-full time program in an accredited school of Naturopathic Medicine that includes more than 4,500 hours of classroom training and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience. 

  • passing NPLEX board exams that are written after the 2nd year and 4th year of study. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all licensing jurisdictions for Naturopathic doctors in North America.

What is included in the training?

Naturopathic Doctors undergo training similar to medical doctors plus they include the naturopathic disciplines. The four areas of training in the four year, full-time Naturopathic Medicine curriculum are:
Basic Sciences - This area of study includes anatomy, physiology, histology, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology and pathology. 
Clinical Disciplines - Diagnostic medicine areas of study are physical and clinical diagnosis, differential and laboratory diagnosis, radiology, naturopathic assessment and orthopedics. 
Naturopathic Disciplines - There are six major disciplines that define the areas of naturopathic practice. Each discipline is a distinct area of practice and includes both diagnostic principles and practices as well as therapeutic skills and techniques. They include: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy and lifestyle counselling. 
Clinical Experience - All students must complete 1,500 hours of clinical requirements and demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of Naturopathic Medicine prior to graduation.

How does naturopathic medicine work?

Naturopathic medicine supports and promotes the body's natural healing process, leading to a person's highest state of wellness. By addressing the causes of disease, and individualizing treatment that integrates the healing powers of body, mind and spirit, health can be restored, optimized, and maintained.

How should I prepare for my first treatment?

If you can gather any recent test results that you have that is very helpful.  Also, bring a list of any supplements or medications that you are currently taking or better yet, bring them with you to the appointment. Doing a week long diet diary is often helpful but not necessary.

What is the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

Naturopathy encompasses the entire spectrum of natural medicine, of which homeopathy is just one part. Homeopathy is a system which uses extremely small doses of natural substances to stimulate the body's own ability to heal, and thus is based on many of the same principles as naturopathy - treating the cause, treating the whole person, doing no harm, and using the healing power of nature. Homeopathy is part of the foundation of naturopathic medicine, yet it may be taught and practised just by itself and by health care providers who are not naturopaths.

Does naturopathic medicine work effectively?

Yes. Naturopathic medicine has its own unique body of knowledge, evolved and refined through experience for centuries. It also incorporates scientific advances from medical disciplines throughout the world. Many of the individual therapies used in naturopathic medical practice have been scientifically validated, especially in the areas of clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture and manipulation. The trend is that those naturopathic methods which are tested in well-designed studies are validated. Research is presently being conducted on the effectiveness of the whole system of naturopathic medicine when it is applied to patients with certain conditions.

Is naturopathic medicine safe?

Yes. The safety record for genuine naturopaths is excellent. Naturopaths can purchase malpractise insurance at extremely low rates. As indicated by such rates, the chance of being injured through malpractise is low. Naturopaths are experts in the safe use of natural therapies.

Who can use naturopathic treatments safely?

Pregnant women, newborns, and all phases of life up to geriatric care. Terminally ill persons too can benefit safely from naturopathic medicine.

How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine?

The main difference is in philosophical approach. Naturopaths treat patients by restoring overall health and are more concerned with finding the underlying cause of a condition and applying treatments that work in alliance with the natural healing mechanisms of the body. Naturopathic treatments result less frequently in adverse side effects, or in the chronic conditions that can arise when the cause of disease is left untreated. Naturopaths typically spend more time with patients, taking a more comprehensive approach

How can naturopathic medicine be blended with conventional medicine?

Although treatment approaches may differ, they are not mutually exclusive. Many patients are under the care of both a conventional doctor and a naturopath, utilizing the strengths and minimizing the limitation of each approach. In an ideal world, patients would always be able to access the best of both systems. Naturopathic medicine has effective treatment for many problems that conventional medicine often fails to cure such as asthma, arthritis, migraines, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Recently, conventional medicine has incorporated some naturopathic approaches in the areas of nutrition, diet, and exercise therapy

Are naturopaths opposed to drugs and major surgery?

No. Naturopaths are not opposed to these approaches when they are necessary and make referrals for such treatment when appropriate.