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Naturopathic Medicine - What You Should Know

Knowledge is Power

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

“Naturopathic medicine blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine to deliver primary health care.”  (Source:  Canadian Naturopathic Foundation brochure.)  It is a comprehensive approach to wellness that focuses on the needs of the individual patient.  Treatments involve modifications to diet and lifestyle along with selected natural therapies.

How is an ND different from an MD?

A naturopathic physician (ND) is similar to a medical physician (MD) in that both deliver primary care and both undergo extensive medical school training in order to have a licence to practice medicine.

They are different by their choice of interventions and by their philosophy.  Naturopathic doctors recommend natural medicines that support the body’s natural healing abilities.  Medical doctors tend to recommend pharmaceuticals and surgery as mainstays of treatment aiming to provide relief of symptoms or offending tissue.  Both types of doctors can play a role in your life.  It is up to you to get the best of both worlds.

What kind of education does an ND have?

NDs take at least three years of premedical university studies before completing a four-year naturopathic program at one of the seven accredited naturopathic colleges in North America.  The curriculum covers basic medical sciences and naturopathic principles and therapeutics.  Graduates have 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience and then go on to write national standardized exams. “Graduates must pass two sets of provincial licencing board exams and are required to maintain their competency throughout their career by completing accredited continuing medical education courses.  Naturopathic education encompasses basic and diagnostic sciences – including anatomy, clinical physiology, biochemistry, pathology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, and lab diagnosis – as well as conventional and naturopathic approaches to improving and maintaining patients’ health.”   “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.”  (Source:  OAND.)

Is naturopathic medicine the same as homeopathy?

“No. Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners of natural medicine. Depending on a patient’s health needs, a naturopathic doctor may include homeopathy in an individualized treatment plan, but it is only one of many treatment methods NDs are trained to use. Homeopaths are trained solely in homeopathy and do not use other treatment methods.”  (Source:  OAND website.)

What is the difference between a naturopathic physician and a naturopath?

“A naturopathic physician is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD.  Further, an ND takes rigorous professional board exams prior to being licenced in a jurisdiction that regulates the practice of naturopathic medicine.  A licenced ND belongs to a regulatory body that oversees standards of practice.  The term “naturopath” has recently been applied to non-medically trained natural health providers.  Typically, naturopaths practice without accountability in unlicenced, unregulated jurisdictions and do not have the same training or privileges as that of a naturopathic physician.”  (Source:  Kelowna Naturopathic Clinic website.)

Why is a visit to an ND not covered by MSP?

At the moment, naturopathic medicine is not covered by the provincial health services insurance program (MSP).  “The profession recognized that the compensation and restrictions of such programs [like MSP] were out of synch with the time-intensive, patient-focused premise of naturopathic medicine.” (Source:  BCNA website.)  However, many extended health insurance providers now have some coverage for naturopathic medicine provided by a licenced ND.

Otherwise, naturopathic medicine is considered “elective medicine.”  Approximately 70% of Canadians participate in some form of natural medicine annually.  Naturopathic medical expenses may qualify for an income tax deduction that is worth looking into.  Those who invest in their health through naturopathic medicine actually alleviate the burden on the fiscally strained, tax funded health care system.

I am happy with my GP.  Why would I see an ND?

Your health care is multifaceted and would best be served by a number of health care professionals.  At Opti-Balance, we believe that everyone should have a naturopathic doctor, a general practitioner, and a dentist.  That way you can get the benefits of each professional’s training and expertise for your specific needs.

How do I take the first step?

Just call and book an intake consultation with Dr. Macart at Opti-Balance 250.752.2711.  An intake form is available to streamline your medical history and at Opti-Balance Naturopathic Medicine our staff would be happy to schedule one-on-one time with the doctor. Bring with you any medications or natural products you are using so you can review them in person with the physician.  A health promotion plan specifically addressing your goals and priorities awaits.

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