Naturopathic medicine focuses on treating the whole person, considering the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a person instead of focusing on just one symptom. Then, the body’s natural healing process is supported, encouraging healthy function to return.
The principles of naturopathic medicine emphasize the promotion of health, prevention of disease, use of therapies that minimize any harmful side effects, and patient education.
As such, naturopathic medicine is a collection of all “alternative” forms of medicine. Naturopathic medicine combines natural and traditional forms of medicine, including botanical medicine, vitamin and mineral supplementation, nutrition, acupuncture, massage, and spinal manipulation, with modern scientific advancements and knowledge to provide healing to patients.
Naturopathic medicine can be used in conjunction with conventional (allopathic) medicine to provide more long-term solutions. It can also be an alterative to conventional drug therapies which may cause side effects, or as an effective treatment on its own for chronic diseases.
The advantages of naturopathic medicine include:
- Natural and traditional forms of medicine
- Emphasis on treating the whole person
- A focus on preventing disease
- A valid alternative to drug therapies which may have harmful side effects
- Treatment of chronic diseases that conventional medicine might not be able to effectively address
- Individualized treatment plans
Why Should I See a Naturopathic Physician?
In recent years, there has been a shift in interest back towards naturopathic medicine as patients seek safe, effective, non-drug therapies. Achieving and maintaining health is a life-long commitment. A naturopathic physician can help you develop long term health goals and get started.
If you are approaching naturopathic medicine as a proactive way to attain and maintain your health, a naturopathic physician can help you learn more about your body, how to take good care of it and how to maintain good health while preventing illness.
If you are approaching naturopathic medicine after being diagnosed with an illness, naturopathic medicine addresses the root cause of an illness, which leads to more long-term solutions.
Naturopathic medicine is individualized for every patient and you can see a naturopathic physician even if you are undergoing conventional medical treatment. Your naturopathic physician will work to develop a treatment plan that takes into account your unique health circumstance and any other treatments you are undergoing.
What treatment methods are used by naturopathic physicians?
Naturopathic treatment programs can include diet changes and lifestyle counselling, nutrition, detoxification programs, intravenous therapies, mind-body exercises, and prevention. These can be combined with treatment remedies and modalities such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, Traditional Chinese Medicine/acupuncture, hydrotherapy and massage therapy.
Many naturopathic physicians in BC are also trained and licensed to prescribe an extensive list of prescription medications. These may be used along with the previously listed traditional naturopathic therapies, as deemed appropriate, to provide primary care with a focus on wellness and prevention.
Are naturopathic physicians doctors?
Yes. Naturopathic physicians have been registered in BC under health legislation since 1923, becoming a self-regulating health profession in 1936. Naturopathic physicians have, at minimum, an undergraduate degree and an additional four years in an accredited naturopathic medicine school. In Canada, the naturopathic medicine profession includes accredited schools, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
No Physician Referral Is Necessary
Naturopathic physicians are primary care doctors. As such, no referral are required to see a naturopathic physician.
Extended Health Plans
Most extended health care plans cover naturopathic physician, usually between $200-500 per year. Some plans also include lab or diagnostic testing coverage. You can clarify coverage with your benefits manager. For individuals with a Health Spending Account, visits to an ND are 100% covered.
BC’s Medical Services Plan
Please note that your naturopathic physician has opted out of BC’s Medical Services Plan. MSP may offer some subsidy for treatments by the naturopathic physician, if you are an individual on premium assistance; however, you will still be responsible for the balance of the visit fee. Contact MSP if you are unsure whether you are on premium assistance.
What Should I Know Before My Treatment?
Prior to your first visit, you will be asked to fill out a confidential intake form. Naturopathic physicians assess the entire individual, including physical, mental and emotional health, lifestyle, environmental factors, and family history. It is recommended that you fill out the intake form beforehand as it is quite thorough.
If you have any recent blood work or imaging scans (X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans or MRIs), please bring the reports with you. Make note of all the medications/supplements and dosages you are taking.
What Can I Expect on My First and Second Visits?
An hour is put aside for your first visit and your naturopathic physician will go over your health concerns and health history with you at that time. The first visit is primarily an information-gathering visit. At the end of the visit, the naturopathic physician may recommend further blood work or request that you fill out a diet diary or health questionnaires over the next week.
The second visit is typically booked 1 week after the first visit. During the second visit, your naturopathic physician will perform a physical exam and discuss any findings from the physical exam with you. Your naturopathic physician then outline a treatment plan, which can include dietary recommendations, lifestyle changes, and/or natural therapies (such as botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture or supplements). Once you consent to the treatment plan, your naturopathic physician will discuss with you the timeline for the next visit.
It is ALWAYS your right to decline a treatment or to ask your naturopathic physician to modify it. This is your journey, your naturopathic physician is there to support your health. Inform your naturopathic physician if you are uncomfortable with any aspect of your visit or your treatment plan.