Naturopathic Medicine FAQ
What forms do I need?
If you are a new patient, you can download the necessary information forms before your first visit:
How are naturopathic doctors different from medical doctors?
Much like family doctors, naturopathic doctors act as general practitioners to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions in patients of all ages.
While medical doctors employ pharmaceutical and surgical interventions to treat physical symptoms and health conditions, naturopathic doctors focus on the specific needs of the individual, addressing the cause of illness through selecting highly effective natural treatments with the least risk of side-effects.
Naturopathic therapies can often be used effectively on their own, but may also be used to enhance the effects of conventional medical treatments, or to help manage the side-effects of conventional treatments.
How is naturopathic medicine different from homeopathy?
Homeopathy is one modality used by naturopathic doctors. This system of medicine originated in Germany, and involves the use of substances in a diluted form to stimulate the natural healing power of the body. In addition to homeopathy, naturopathic doctors use traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, and lifestyle counseling.
A homeopath only uses homeopathy. In addition, homeopathy is not a regulated or licensed health profession in Ontario. Naturopathic medicine is regulated and licensed in Ontario.
How are naturopathic doctors trained?
Naturopathic doctors obtain comprehensive and rigorous training in an educational structure similar to that of medical doctors. Naturopathic doctors require a minimum of three years of pre-med postsecondary education, plus four years of fulltime study at an approved college of naturopathic medicine. The four-year naturopathic medical program incorporates over 4,500 hours of classroom training in basic medical science courses, clinical sciences and naturopathic therapies, as well as 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience.
Graduates from an accredited naturopathic college receive the designation Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND). Following the completion of their program, Naturopathic doctors must successfully complete the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) in order to qualify for licensing in Ontario. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all regulated provinces and states across North America.
Naturopathic doctors are also required to earn continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain their registration and good standing with the regulatory body.
How are naturopathic doctors regulated?
Naturopathic doctors are the only regulated health professionals in the field of natural medicine in Ontario. Naturopathic doctors are regulated in Ontario under the 1925 Drugless Therapy Act and are registered (licensed) by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDTN). The BDDTN functions to ensure that naturopathic doctors are properly qualified to practice naturopathic medicine and that they follow the appropriate standards of practice.
Naturopathic doctors are also regulated in Canada in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
What types of conditions do naturopathic doctors treat?
As primary healthcare practitioners, naturopathic doctors can treat the same conditions as a family doctor, and may refer out to specialists or other healthcare professionals when necessary. Using gentle and highly effective treatments selected to meet your specific healthcare needs, naturopathic medicine can have excellent results in the treatment of the following:
- Acute conditions, such as colds and the flu, ear and throat infections, headaches, seasonal allergies, and intestinal upset
- Chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune conditions, hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart problems, eczema, psoriasis, acne, digestion, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and environmental illnesses, cystitis, prostatitis, impotence, and Cancer (prevention, minimize side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, reduce recovery time, support immune system)
- Women’s health issues, such as infertility, PMS, menstrual disorders, menopausal symptoms, fibrocystic breast disease, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and enhancing health in pregnancy
- Other issues, such as mental or emotional stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and attention deficit disorder
Do naturopathic doctors work with other health care providers?
Naturopathic doctors believe in an integrative care model, combining naturopathic and conventional treatments for the best patient health outcomes. We have reached an age where there is ample scientific and empirical evidence to support the use of both conventional and alternative treatments, and integrating a naturopathic doctor into your healthcare team is essential for ensuring the best healthcare provision.
Naturopathic doctors often consult with medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, and other healthcare professionals on cases, and am happy to work with your family doctor, medical specialists, or other healthcare providers.
What can I expect when I visit a naturopathic doctor?
Your initial naturopathic visit is approximately 60-75 minutes in length, and is used for a detailed health history review, discussion of your present health concerns, health goals, and relevant physical examination. Lab testing may be recommended to aid in assessment and diagnosis, and preliminary treatments are outlined.
In the second visit, a comprehensive individualized treatment plan is discussed.
Follow-up visits are between 30 and 45 minutes in length, and are used to implement appropriate naturopathic treatment modalities, monitor progress, and re-assess the treatment plan.
Is naturopathic medicine covered by OHIP or health insurance plans?
Naturopathic medicine is currently not covered by OHIP. Most extended health insurance plans cover naturopathic treatments. Please contact your employer or individual insurance broker to determine the extent of your naturopathic coverage.
Is it safe to combine naturopathic medicine with prescription medications?
It is important to consult a naturopathic doctor if you are considering using natural treatments while on prescription medications. Naturopathic doctors have the highest degree of training in the health-care field in drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions, selecting treatments on an individual basis to have the highest degree of safety and efficacy. Part of your treatment plan will also address the depletion of essential nutrients specific to your prescription medications.