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What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine is a complimentary form of health care that starts with supporting the body in its amazing ability to heal itself. By looking at the root causes of illness rather than just the symptoms, and promoting healing through natural therapies, naturopathic medicine is a successful non-invasive way to prevent chronic illness as well as reduce reliance upon prescription medications. Think of it as your gateway to optimal health. From diet and exercise, to understanding your body’s unique chemistry, Naturopathic Medicine aims you to boost your immune system, prevent and treat chronic disease and increase your overall energy level.
There are a number of Naturopathic treatment that are tailored to each individual patient. Depending on the Naturopahtic Doctor’s approach and patient being treated, treatments may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical treatments, acupuncture and Asian medicine, lifestyle counseling, or a combination of these.
What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
Naturopathic Doctors, sometimes referred to as “NDs”, are provincially-regulated primary care providers. They are general practitioners of natural medicine. With extensive education, including a pre-med science study and 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.
What can I expect from my first visit to a Naturopathic Doctor?
During the first visit, your ND wants to get to know you as a person, what your health goals are and how you have managed your health in the past. Expect to be there for an hour or more to give your ND adequate time to complete the picture. As well as performing a physical exam based on your health complaints, your ND will also ask you about your mental, emotional and spiritual health, your diet and lifestyle, and treatments you may be receiving from other health care providers. By the end of the visit, your ND will present an individualized treatment plan and may suggest further testing.
How do I pay for a visit to a Naturopathic Doctor?
Currently, OHIP does not cover visits to a naturopathic doctor. However, most extended healthcare plans include naturopathic medicine, so check with your provider to see the amount of your coverage.
Do Naturopathic Doctors have specialties?
Although some NDs do take a special interest in particular health conditions or specific patient groups. Currently, there are no specialist-level educational programs offered by naturopathic colleges. However, in addition to maintaining their continuing education requirements, many NDs pursue extended training in a particular area, such as environmental medicine, infusion therapy, or complimentary cancer care. Some ND practices have a particular focus, but those are not the same as specialties.
What conditions can Naturopathic Doctors treat?
NDs are primary health care practitioners, and can treat a wide variety of health concerns, including acute and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, or is outside of their regulated scope of practice, he or she will refer to another health care provider.
Are there Naturopathic Doctors who are also medical doctors?
No. None of Ontario’s Naturopathic Doctors are licensed medical doctors. There are some NDs in Ontario who were medical doctors before coming to Canada, and then decided to train as NDs once they arrived here, but they are not licensed as MDs in Canada. There are also some medical doctors who have an interest in natural therapies and integrative health care, but they do not have specialized training in all of the disciplines covered by Naturopathic medicine and are not registered NDs.
Are Naturopathic Doctors regulated in Ontario?
Ontario’s new Naturopathy Act received final approval in June 2007 and came into force in July 2015 bringing the regulation of Naturopathic Doctors under the Regulated Health Professions Act, with all of Ontario’s regulated health professions. Regulation changed significantly in 2015 but Naturopathic Medicine was previously regulated (since 1925) under Ontario’s Drugless Therapy Act.
Canadian Naturopathic Doctors are also regulated in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
How do I confirm a Naturopathic Doctor’s qualifications?
Naturopathic doctors must be registered to practice in Ontario with the regulator, the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). To verify that a naturopathic doctor is registered, call 416-866-8383 to reach CONO or at www.collegeofnaturopaths.on.ca.
What is the training process to become a registered naturopathic doctor in Ontario?
Naturopathic medical training closely parallels that of medical doctors. Candidates are required to complete three years of pre-med post-secondary education before being accepted into an accredited four-year program at an approved college of naturopathic medicine. [link to page that lists schools]
The four-year program is comprised of over 4,500 hours of classroom training in basic medical science courses, clinical sciences and naturopathic therapies, as well as 1,500 hours of supervised clinical practicum. Graduates from an accredited naturopathic college receive the designation Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND).
Following the completion of their courses and training, NDs must successfully complete the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) to become licensed in Ontario. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all regulated provinces and states across North America. A naturopathic doctor cannot practice in Ontario without completing the training and passing the exam.
NDs are also required to earn continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain their registration and good standing with the regulatory body.