WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR (ND)?
Naturopathic doctors are provincially-regulated primary care providers. With extensive education, including an undergraduate degree followed by four years of training at an accredited naturopathic college, NDs integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies. NDs are eclectic, each with a slightly different approach, but they all believe that balancing the mind, body and environment is the path to optimal health because it supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors are also experts at early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and their personalized treatment plans work with each individual patient’s lifestyle and body chemistry.
WHY SEE A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
- To find the root cause of your health concerns
- To receive support in dealing with a range of symptoms from an undiagnosed illness that has not been addressed
- To seek alternatives with fewer side effects than medication(s)
- In search of medicine that complements conventional medicine
- To learn strategies to prevent disease
- To enhance performance in life and at work
- To improve overall quality of life
- You probably have benefits that will cover the cost
Since naturopathic medicine works to build and/or unblock the body’s innate ability to heal, chronic illnesses tend to benefit greatly. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, he or she will consult or refer appropriately. If you have an emergency always go to your local emergency department or call 911.
WHAT EDUCATION DO NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS HAVE?
Doctors of naturopathy currently hold the highest level of training in natural medicine out of any licensed health profession in North America. Naturopathic Medicine is a four-year graduate degree program. Here’s a list of courses at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). In order to practice, all Naturopathic Doctors in North America must complete two sets of NPLEX licensing examinations and all Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario must complete a certification exam with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO).
IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR A REGULATED HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER?
Yes. Registration with a governing body helps ensure that NDs have the knowledge, skill and judgment to carry out their role. The Naturopathy Act was proclaimed on July 1, 2015 and the profession has been regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) since that date. Naturopathic doctors are regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, alongside all other regulated health professions. Canadian naturopathic doctors are also regulated in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Other provinces are in the process of being regulated.
IF NDs DON’T PRESCRIBE DRUGS, WHAT DO THEY DO?
All licensed naturopathic doctors are trained in botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, traditional chinese medicine (including acupuncture), body work, joint manipulation, hydrotherapy, and homeopathy.
WHY WOULD I GO TO A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR (ND) IF I CAN GO TO MY MEDICAL DOCTOR (MD) FOR FREE?
Some people choose to see a naturopathic doctor as their primary care provider. Most people have a naturopathic doctor as well as a family MD. Between them exists a fundamental difference in views of disease. In North America, most conventional MDs view disease as a physical or chemical imbalance and treat it with drugs. A lot of this is influenced by the way the whole medical system is set up here. An ND dwells deeper to see what is causing disbalance in the biochemistry. The ND will then attempt to restore them naturally before these imbalances become full blown pathologies. A typical first visit with an ND is at least one hour compared to a few minutes with a family MD. This time allows them to collect as much information about the history, environment, hormonal and emotional status of the patient. The ND has the time to work with the patient to establish ways to improve their well-being that fits in their lifestyle.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN YOUR VISIT?
– The first consultation (1.5 hours): involves an extensive patient history and physical examinations using standard diagnostic instruments. Lab tests may be requisitioned if required. However, if you’ve had recent lab work recently done, it is highly recommended to bring it with you in your first appointment. Additional information related to lifestyle – including diet, emotions, stress, exercise, and exposure to environmental hazards will be collected. The goal is to understand each patient and all the aspects of their lives that impact their health. Some simple recommendations may be given at the end of the first visit, but a detailed treatment plan will come based on blood tests, physical exams have been performed and there has been time to thoughtfully consider your health concerns. The treatment plan is then customized based on the conversation during the first visit regarding goals, needs and expectations of the patient. This is usually a combination of lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stress management, sleep), acupuncture and the right supplements/herbs.
– The second consultation: findings will be discussed that could be contributing to your health concerns, time to ask any further questions, and a detailed treatment plan will be explained.
– Follow up : A follow-up visit, to evaluate progress and ensure that you are on the right track will occur 4-6 weeks later and any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan will be discussed. If your treatment plan involves acupuncture, these visits will occur weekly or bi weekly. The frequency of your visits with me will depend on the complexity of your health concerns. Some people will come only a few times a year and others come monthly.
ARE NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS COVERED BY EXTENDED HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS?
Yes. Most extended healthcare plans include naturopathic medicine, so check with your provider to see the amount of your coverage. Most employee benefit plans cover Naturopathic Medicine to a certain extent (usually ~$500 per year).
Some companies will even cover supplements and diagnostics but the majority only cover services. You can check your booklet that was provided by your insurance company or give them a call to find out. I offer direct billing for most insurance companies so you don’t have to pay out of pocket at the end of your visit.
Naturopathic medical care can be included on your income tax deductions as an eligible medical expense. Please see this link for more information.
DO I NEED A REFERRAL FROM MY MEDICAL DOCTOR?
IS LABWORK COVERED BY OHIP?
Labwork is currently not covered by OHIP, not even basic labs. Sometimes your ND will refer you back to your MD to have lab work done. You have a right to all your medical records, so if you’ve had recent blood work done, bring copies to your consultation. Always ask for copies of your labs from your doctor. They are YOUR records to keep track of.
WHERE DO I BUY SUPPLEMENTS YOU RECOMMEND?
Most health food stores carry the products I recommend. However, you may also purchase them through my online dispensary. Orders will be shipped to your house within 1-2 business days.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me via the contact section.