Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession built on a patient-centered approach that emphasizes prevention and evidence-based treatments. It promotes wellness and the prevention of illness or disease by addressing the root cause of illness rather than just the symptoms. It is a successful non-invasive way to prevent acute and chronic illness as well as reduce reliance on prescription medications. Naturopathic doctors use a functional medical approach to health care, identifying the biochemical and physiological imbalances within the individual. Naturopathic medicine plays an important role in integrative health care and treatments can be used on their own or together with conventional medicine.
Naturopathic medicine supports the body’s own healing ability by using treatments that include acupuncture/Asian medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, lifestyle counselling, injection and intravenous therapies and certain bioidentical hormone treatments.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Principles are based on the concept of health and disease and are continually shifting in light of evolving scientific knowledge. The following fundamentals distinguish naturopathic medicine from other medical approaches:
- First, do no harm.
- Act in cooperation with the Healing Power of Nature.
- Address the fundamental cause of disease.
- Heal the whole person through individualized treatment.
- Teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine.
What do Naturopathic Doctors Treat?
Naturopathic doctors manage a variety of conditions, including:
- Stress management
- Asthma, colds and flu
- Depression, anxiety and mental health
- Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
- Digestive complains such as acid reflux IBS, IBD
- Hormonal imbalances such as acne, PMS, infertility, PCOS, menopause
- Pain management
- Arthritis, sports injuries
- Cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure.
Naturopathic Training and Licensing
Naturopathic doctors are required to complete a four year university undergraduate degree in pre-medical sciences followed by four years of naturopathic medical training at an accredited naturopathic college. Naturopathic doctors complete 4500 hours of training in both biomedical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, clinical diagnosis) and natural science (clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, acupuncture/Asian medicine and intravenous therapy). They must also complete 500 hours of clinical training in outpatient facilities as well as 100 preceptor hours with practicing doctors.
Naturopathic doctors must pass two licensing board exams known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX) and complete yearly continuing medical education (CME) courses to maintain their license in active status. In Ontario NDs are licensed and regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). Make sure you are seeing a regulated naturopathic doctor