Naturopathic Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the premise "Vis Medicatrix Naturae": that all living things have an inherent ability to heal themselves. Naturopathic doctors are trained to use natural therapies that support and stimulate the body's natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine / acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.

What can I expect at my visits with a naturopathic doctor?

The first appointment with a naturopathic doctor is from 1 to 1½ hours and subsequent appointments will be from 30 minutes to 1 hour in length depending on your treatment (e.g. acupuncture sessions are one hour in length). Typically during the initial visits your naturopathic doctor will take a detailed history of your current and past health concerns, conduct a physical exam if indicated, and use information from laboratory tests to make an assessment and diagnosis. With the patient's input, a personalized treatment plan will be proposed to help facilitate achieving their health goals.

Is my visit covered by my medical plan?

Most extended health insurance plans in Canada cover naturopathic treatments. Insured patients are encouraged to contact their employer or individual insurance brokers to determine if they are covered and/or to request that their policy be extended to include naturopathic services if it does not already do so. Since naturopathic doctors use alternatives to costly techniques and drug therapies, more insurance companies are beginning to investigate expanding coverage of this cost-effective treatment method. Naturopathic medicine is currently not fully covered by any of the provincial health plans. However, if you are eligible for MSP Premium Assistance in British Columbia, visits with a naturopathic doctor are included in your 10 annual supplementary healthcare benefits.

Do I need a referral to see a naturopathic doctor?


What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor (ND) and a medical doctor (MD)?

Both are doctors, both provide primary care and both are similarly trained. The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors treat patients as individuals by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows ND's to find and treat the cause of the disease using natural, non-invasive therapies. MD's generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery.

What is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath?

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A naturopath is a naturopathic doctor; a primary care physician that is trained in natural therapies along with standard medical training. These natural therapies include homeopathy, which uses diluted medicines made from natural substances, to treat a person's symptoms. A homeopath is a health-care practitioner that is trained specifically in homeopathy, and uses only homeopathic medicines to treat their clients. Though many naturopaths use homeopathic medicines in their practice, they also may use herbal medicines, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Clinical Nutrition, or other natural therapies as part of their treatment plans.

Why should I see a naturopath?

Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns -- from pediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological. Naturopathic medicine will benefit anyone who:

  • is looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
  • has a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
  • has been diagnosed with an illness, acute, serious or chronic, and are looking for alternative or natural treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective for improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
  • is looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments