How are Naturopathic Doctors trained?
Prerequisites to the ND program include a minimum of three years of pre-medical sciences at an accredited university taking biology, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, introductory psychology and humanities.
To graduate as an ND, you must successfully complete a four-year full-time naturopathic medical program at an accredited school including 4,500 hours of classroom training (basic medical science: anatomy, physiology, histology, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology and pathology; clinical modalities: physical and clinical diagnosis, differential and laboratory diagnosis, radiology, obstetrics, pediatrics, naturopathic assessment and orthopaedics; naturopathic modalities: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulation and lifestyle counseling) and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience.
To practice as an ND, you must pass the NPLEX board exams that are written after year two and four. NPLEX is the standard examination used by all licensing jurisdictions for Naturopathic doctors in North America. You then must pass your provincial licensing exams and fulfill ongoing continuing medical education (CME) requirements as outlined by your provincial/state board.
What do Naturopathic Doctors treat?
Naturopathic Doctors can treat both acute and chronic health complaints in children and adults both alone or in combination with conventional therapies. Examples are not limited to but can include such things as, mental health complaints (depression, anxiety), women and men’s health, chronic pain, digestive concerns, autoimmune conditions, cancer, children’s complaints, sports related concerns, aid with smoking cessation, etc.
How does a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) compare to a Medical Doctor (MD)?
Naturopathic doctors have similar training in medical and clinical sciences (i.e. biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, etc.); however, in addition, they have extensive training in a broad spectrum of natural medicines and therapies. NDs are able to spend much more time with their patients, attempting to find the underlying cause of disease and utilizing the least invasive and least toxic therapies first. They utilize private laboratory services and can interpret medical reports as needed to help develop an individualized treatment plan. NDs in some regulated jurisdictions, such as British Columbia and Ontario, can prescribe primary care pharmaceuticals, usually used as a last resort. Prevention is always forefront in any naturopathic treatment plan.
Can I see both a Naturopathic Doctor and a Medical Doctor?
Yes, integrative medicine is the way of the future, and the best treatment outcomes are attained when utilizing care from as many practitioners as possible.
Can I use Naturopathic Medicines if I am on prescription medications?
Yes you can, as licensed NDs are trained in pharmacology and drug-nutrient-herb interactions. In fact there is no other practitioner who knows these relationships better. Naturopathic Doctors can also help you manage the side effects of medications you are on.
How do I know if my Naturopathic Doctor is licensed?
Naturopathic Doctors in the Northwest Territories are not currently under a regulating body. Therefore NDs practicing in the NWT should be registered with the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors which proves they have graduated from an accredited school and passed the North American board exams, as well as with a provincial regulating body such as the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia (CNPBC) or the The Board of Directors of Drugless TherapyNaturopathy (BDDT-N) in Ontario to keep up with their license requirements.
Is Naturopathic Medicine covered by my health insurance?
Naturopathic Medicine is currently not covered by the territorial healthcare plan; however, most extended health insurance plans cover naturopathic medicine and acupuncture (including Sun Life, Great West Life, Manulife, GNWT plan and many more), and certain jurisdictions allow naturopathic medicine to be claimed on a tax return as a health expense. Depending on your policy, either a portion of the service fee, or the entire service fee, can be claimed. Laboratory tests can often be claimed; however, supplements and botanicals are not reimbursed. Sometimes, insurance companies will lump together coverage for many different types of practitioners instead of having a separate coverage heading for naturopathic doctors. Call your insurance provider to be sure of their policy and their coverage. Gaia Naturopathic Clinic does not currently bill directly to insurance companies, patients must pay the full fee for service then send in their receipts to the company.
What can I expect from my first visit?
The first visit with an ND is primarily an information gathering session. We take the time to find out about your family history, past medical history, dietary habits, a thorough review of body systems to make sure nothing has been missed, your lifestyle and stresses, and overall wellbeing, in addition to the information about your chief complaints. We may not prescribe anything on the first visit, but wait until the second visit so we can get in relevant lab work results or run new laboratory tests, and perform a complaint specific physical exam. We carefully examine all of the information gathered in the first visit and then tailor an individualized prevention and treatment plan, including follow up schedules that best suite your needs, whether you’re local or from out of town.
Why pay for healthcare?
In Canada, we are more accustomed to taking our car in for regular service and tune-ups then we are our own bodies. Health is an investment for the future, and more and more Canadians are recognizing that prevention is the key to an optimal functioning system.
New research shows that naturopathic medicine is more cost effective then conventional care for certain conditions. It has been shown to save healthcare dollars in the long run by focusing on the least invasive therapies and on health prevention. Hopefully one day, naturopathic medicine will be covered by provincial and territorial health plans (treaty card holders are currently covered in BC), as governments respond to patient demand, and individuals request access to their choice of primary healthcare provider.