FAQ


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How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional (allopathic) medicine?
How are naturopathic and conventional physicians alike?
Is naturopathic medicine scientific?
Is naturopathic medicine safe?How is a ND different from a homeopath?
How is naturopathic medicine different from other “holistic” centres?

Edcuation:

How are naturopathic physicians educated?
Are naturopathic medical programs accredited?
What about correspondence education?

Visits:

What can my ND treat?
What should I expect on the first visit?
Is naturopathic medicine covered by OHIP health insurance?


How is naturopathic medicine different from conventional (allopathic) medicine?

The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach to health and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients as individuals by addressing the lifestyle, mental emotional and environmental aspects of health. This allows your ND to find and treat the cause of the disease using natural, non-invasive therapies. In contrast, conventional doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease, rather than the source of the illness, and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery. Medical doctors also receive little training in nutrition and lifestyle counseling and are proficient at treating timely and emergent conditions. However, due to time restrictions and current doctor shortages, MDs are unable to spend as much time with you as your ND.
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How are naturopathic and conventional physicians alike?

Naturopathic and allopathic (conventional) physicians are required to study the biomedical sciences at a four-year accredited medical school. Included in this rigorous curriculum are biomedical sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology and others. Both kinds of physicians can diagnose a disease, predict its course, and prescribe treatment.  The difference is in the methods of treatment prescribed.
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Is naturopathic medicine scientific?

Yes. The effectiveness of naturopathic medicine is backed up by solid, controlled studies. Naturopathic medicine has evolved over centuries and continues to grow and incorporate scientific advances. In fact, the effectiveness of many naturopathic treatments reflects many decades of positive clinical results.  The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine along with the many other accredited naturopathic institutions continue to perform state-of-the-art studies that are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to further research in naturopathic medicine. It is the job of every ND to keep up to date with the latest advances in patient care through scientific journals and continuing education courses.
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Is naturopathic medicine safe?

Yes.  The first principle of naturopathic medicine is to “first do no harm”. Safety records are monitored by government review boards.  NDs most often use gentle therapies with low risk for side effects.  However, it is important to remember that just because a treatment is “natural”, it does not always mean that it is safer or better than other forms of treatment. NDs are educated to know when naturopathic treatments will interact with certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, and when it is necessary to refer to a specialist or to emergency care.
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How is a ND different from a homeopath?

NDs use a variety of treatment modalities and must complete a University undergraduate degree as well as an accredited four-year full-time Naturopathic Medicine Program. NDs in Ontario must be registered and licensed through the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy and are governed under the Drugless Practitioners Act. They must also carry malpractice insurance. Homeopaths use homeopathy as the treatment of choice to treat their patients. They must have completed high school as well as a minimum of two years at either college or university. They are not required to have a university degree. The Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine offers three- or four-year programs that consist of 18 weekend classes each year. Homeopaths are not licensed in Ontario, and do not fall under the governing of the Drugless Practitioners Act.
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How is naturopathic medicine different from other “holistic” centres?

Holistic centres often consist of a variety of therapists working together. Some of these therapists may be recognized and licensed (for example, massage therapists are regulated and acupuncturists are soon to be regulated). Other types of therapy (reiki, herbalists, energy healers, medical intuitives, aura balancers, psychics, reflexology, iridologists etc.) are not regulated in Ontario; therefore, the quality of care and level of education and training of these individuals can vary greatly.  When looking for a professional in natural therapies, it is important to know whether your practitioner is licensed and regulated under either the Drugless Practitioners Act (DPA) or the Regulated Health Practitioners Act (RHPA). This guarantees that these professionals have been well educated and extensively trained in their field, and are recognized by the government and the healthcare community.
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Education:

How are naturopathic physicians educated?

After completing a standard premedical undergraduate program at an accredited university, students enter into a four-year naturopathic medical program. Upon successful completion of the four-year program, graduates receive the degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
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Are naturopathic medical programs accredited?

Yes. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is the only accrediting body for naturopathic medical schools recognized by the US Department of Education. The CNME has accredited the naturopathic medical programs in the US as well as the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Upon successful completion of any of these programs, a naturopathic physician is eligible to take the naturopathic physician licensing examinations (NPLEx) to obtain licensure.
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What about correspondence education?

None of the CNME accredited institutions offer any portion of the ND degree via correspondence, and graduates of non-accredited institutions are not eligible to sit for the national board exams in naturopathic medicine and cannot be regulated as NDs.
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Visits:

What can my ND treat?

NDs see a wide variety of patients of all different ages and are recognized as primary care practitioners, similar to family medical doctors. As such, NDs are able to treat a range of conditions from acute conditions such as ear infections to chronic conditions such as arthritis. For those individuals who choose to have a MD for primary care, a ND can provide complementary care.
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What should I expect on the first visit?

The first visit to a ND may take an hour or longer because it includes a comprehensive medical history, physical examination, possible laboratory tests, and discussions about nutrition, lifestyle, emotions, exercise, stress and other significant health factors. Your particular concerns will be discussed. At the end of the visit, your ND will discuss treatment options, and develop an individualized course of therapy that is focused on addressing your health concerns.
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Is naturopathic medicine covered by OHIP health insurance?

Although naturopathic services are not currently covered by OHIP, most private health insurance plans will provide coverage. Since NDs use alternatives to costly techniques and drug therapies, more insurance companies are beginning to investigate expanding coverage of this cost-effective healing method.  Check your benefits package or contact your health insurer for details.
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