Why Naturopathic Medicine?
Whether you are sick or healthy,
has something for you which you need it...
Naturopathic Doctors (ND's) focus on naturally occurring substances, minimally invasive methods, and the promotion of natural healing. They also emphasize illness prevention and a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Naturopathic Doctors focus not only on the symptoms but also the underlying conditions causing the symptoms. Naturopathic Doctors treat the root causes of disease and address preventable risk factors, using a wide range of science-and evidence-based, natural and conventional therapies.
Naturopathic Medicine focuses on an understanding of the origins of acute and chronic disease and working to support and assist the body’s natural ability to heal, getting to the root cause of what’s wrong. Naturopathic assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the individual patient are accomplished by integrating modern and traditional care which includes clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. All therapeutic options are considered and applied to help regulate the process of disease over time rather than temporarily suppress it. Naturopathic Medicine is evidence-based, informed by clinical experience, research and the individual patient’s unique health situation. Health promotion and disease prevention are a particular foundation of Naturopathic Medicine.
The focus of Naturopathic care is the individual, their current health (physical, emotional and spiritual), family history as well as lifestyle choices and environmental influences, all of which inform the Naturopathic assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan offered by a Naturopathic Doctor.
Naturopathic assessment, diagnosis and treatment draws from a number of modalities (therapies) and is tailored to the individual. Treatments may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical treatments, acupuncture and Asian medicine, and lifestyle counselling.
Naturopathic Medicine is based on the following principles:
First do no harm
The Healing power of nature
Identification and treatment of the causes of disease
The primary role of the doctor as the teacher
Treatment of the whole person
Disease prevention and health promotion
Naturopathic Medicine is for people of all ages and health histories who want to take their health into their own hands. ND's are primary health care providers and are qualified to see and treat everyone. Some ND's focus their practices in specific areas, such as treating children or the elderly, providing adjunctive cancer support, weight management, sport-related health, digestive health, pain management, etc. The majority of ND's work in multi-disciplinary practices with health professionals from other regulated professions like, medical doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and chiropractors.
Who is a Naturopathic Doctor?
Naturopathic Doctors, sometimes referred to as “ND's”, are provincially-regulated and licensed 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, ND's integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies. Some Naturopathic Doctors have been a conventional medical doctor who studied Naturopathic Medicine and became a Naturopathic Doctor. ND's 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.
When I should see a Naturopathic Doctor?
You don't have to be sick to visit a Naturopathic Doctor. Naturopathic Doctors can help you to feel better, gain your optimum health condition and prevent future health issues. There are six main reason to visit a Naturopathic Doctor:
1. You want a doctor who will treat all of you, not just your illness:
Naturopathic doctors are trained to treat the whole person. This requires taking the time to listen and understand the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that can affect your health. At your initial appointment, you’ll spend up to an hour or more talking with your ND.
2. You want personalized treatment:
ND's understand there is no one-size-fits-all treatment that works for everybody. After your visit with an ND, you’ll leave the doctor’s office with a treatment plan uniquely tailored to you, your health status, your health goals, and your lifestyle.
3. You want to treat the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms:
Sometimes having trouble sleeping, aches and pains, strange or hard to treat skin rashes, and indigestion or stomach discomfort are symptoms of an underlying illness. While these symptoms can be managed, it’s more important to understand and treat the root cause—which is the focus of Naturopathic Medicine.
4. You want to actively participate in managing your own health:
An ND will help you learn what your body needs to get well and stay healthy. Patients have the opportunity to feel empowered and hopeful when they understand and are actively engaged in managing their own health.
5. You have chronic pain and don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or highly addictive opioids to manage it forever:
Pain that lasts six months or more is more complex than acute pain and requires a holistic, long-term approach to manage. ND's are trained to work with you to determine which combination of therapies will work best for you to heal or manage your pain safely so that you can resume daily activities.
6. You have tried all conventional medical options for diagnosing and treating a health condition:
Certain chronic health conditions that have symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, or gastrointestinal distress can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and can benefit from a holistic approach. ND's use diagnostic tools common in conventional medicine, such as detailed health, disease, and prescription drug histories, physical exams, and targeted laboratory testing and imaging. ND's also consider detailed diet history, lifestyle habits and choices, exercise history, and social/emotional factors to assess patients’ needs. These approaches can open doors to new treatment pathways and options.
Which medical conditions can be treated by ND's?
Licensed Naturopathic Doctors combine knowledge of the body’s natural healing properties with the rigors of modern science to focus on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, Naturopathic Doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.
ND's 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. Among the most common ailments they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. They also are trained to use prescription drugs, although they emphasize less toxic substances that promote natural healing first, following the Therapeutic Order to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for damage.
Naturopathic doctors can order blood reference range and individualized specialty functional medicine labs, such as those for assessing digestive impairment, hormone imbalances, heavy metal and/or environmental toxin exposure, nutritional deficiencies, and adrenal dysregulation. They will evaluate your lab results in combination with your clinical presentation, your health history, and lifestyle and environment factors that might be preventing you from having optimal health.
What can I expect from my first visit?
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 and emotional 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.
In your first visit with a Naturopathic Doctor, they will likely:
Take your health history and ask you many questions about your main health concerns. Your doctor may explore how you experience each problem, including timing, intensity, and impact on your life.
Perform a methodical review of your bodily systems (from your respiratory system to your digestive, musculoskeletal, skin and other key systems) which may be connected to your chief complaint(s) or which may reveal other important areas that require attention.
Ask you what you have tried/implemented to address your concerns, and what the effects have been. This includes a review of prescription drugs and supplements you may be taking.
Ask you detailed questions about your diet and physical activity. Sometimes, your ND may ask you to keep and bring in a diet and activity log.
Discuss your lifestyle, social setting, and support systems. Your ND will want to understand both your main stressors and your coping strategies. Your home and work environments and primary relationships with friends and family will be important considerations for your personalized health plan.
Actively listen as you share your story, build rapport and trust, and establish a connection with you to foster a positive doctor-patient relationship.
Perform a relevant physical examination, as needed.
Order appropriate diagnostic tests, and explain testing that can help determine what is going on inside your body. Tests may include blood, saliva, urinary, and/or stool analyses.
Based on findings, your Naturopathic Doctor will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan and health management strategy. If necessary, your ND will refer you to and/or work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.
Why my first visit is between one and two hours?
Naturopathic Doctors spend between one and two hours face-to-face with patients in an initial appointment, and 30 to 60 minutes in subsequent appointments.
There are many factors that affect your health. Naturopathic doctors, who are trained to treat the whole person, take the time to explore as many of them as possible. Intakes are guided by the Therapeutic Order, a set of guidelines Naturopathic Doctors use in clinical decision making to help uncover and evaluate multiple causes of health concerns including diet, lifestyle, family genetics, psycho-emotional, socioeconomic, and environmental issues, and more. This framework, which also guides Naturopathic Doctors in clinical decision making, prioritizes minimally invasive therapies. These therapies are aimed at supporting the body’s health restoring and maintenance processes, as opposed to just reducing symptoms.
The extra time Naturopathic Doctors spend with you is often focused on identifying the underlying cause(s) of your health concerns and empowering you to engage actively in restoring and managing your own health. Research shows that whole-person care often leads to high patient satisfaction and improved outcomes.
Sometimes aches and pains, stomach discomfort, trouble sleeping and numerous other symptoms are indicators of an underlying illness. While these symptoms can be managed, it’s more important to understand and treat the root cause, which is the focus of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic Doctors will explore the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that may impact your health. They’ll also take the time to understand your health goals.
How ND's manage chronic pain without opioids?
Anyone who has ever experienced chronic pain knows how debilitating it can be. Yet the most commonly recommended conventional medical solution (prescription opioid painkillers) is turning out to be worse than the problem. Opioids may stop the pain, but at a high price: growing numbers of deaths due to opioid overdose and higher rates of addiction and misuse.
As a medical discipline that emphasizes a holistic approach and natural treatments, Naturopathic Medicine offers safe and effective alternatives to highly addictive drugs for managing chronic pain. Licensed Naturopathic Doctors are educated at four-year, post-graduate medical schools to start with non-drug approaches to chronic pain management.
Naturopathic Doctors are also trained to develop personalized pain management treatment plans. These plans take into account each individual’s lifestyle, nutrition, work and leisure activities, current and past stressors, and relevant previous injuries; in other words, the root causes of each person’s pain and all its manifestations. The plans use various combinations of dietary recommendations and nutritional supplements along with botanical medicines to help reduce inflammation and the pain it causes. Exercise, physical rehabilitation, and mind-body approaches that are known to reduce perception of pain are also included in the plans.
In addition, Naturopathic Doctors recognize the value of working closely with conventional and alternative medical providers and will make appropriate referrals for further diagnostic work-up, treatment support, or surgical intervention as indicated. In turn, a growing number of conventional medical doctors refer patients and colleagues looking for a fresh perspective for difficult-to-treat chronic pain to Naturopathic Doctors.
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.
Naturopathic Medicine is a system of medicine that has been practiced in North America for over 125 years. Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct form of primary health care built on a patient-centred approach that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that support the body’s natural ability to heal and help the patient achieve sustainable health and wellness.
Naturopathic Medicine involves a functional medicine approach to healthcare, identifying biochemical and physiological imbalances within the individual, and using natural, scientifically-proven solutions to rectify these imbalances.
Whether you are sick or healthy,
has something for you which you need it...