What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine treats the underlying cause of disease and is the promotion of well-being using therapeutics that support or enhance a patient’s overall health. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of supporting the natural healing processes of the patient through the removal of any obstacles to these processes. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are trained in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of physical, mental and emotional conditions.
What training to Naturopathic Doctors have?
As with conventional medical training, training in naturopathic medicine requires a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education from a recognized school before being allowed to register as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in Ontario. Nathuropathic doctors must have an undergraduate degree, have completed premedical undergraduate coursework, and have completed a four-year, accredited, naturopathic medical education.
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.
Graduates must pass two sets of provincial licensing board exams and are required to keep their registration current throughout their career by completing at least 70 hours every three years of approved continuing education.
In Ontario, naturopathic physicians (NDs) are licensed to provide primary care. They are trained as general practitioners in complementary medicine, providing a full range of diagnostic tests and therapies as described below.
What Treatments Do Naturopathic Doctors provide?
Clinical nutrition involves managing the amount of nutrients (i.e. protein, vitamins, and minerals) in a patient’s diet to create a healthy energy balance.
Acupuncture is a healing methodology that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into the skin.
Botanical medicine is the study and use of medicinal properties of plants
Asian medicine is a broad range of medicinal practices sharing traditional theoretical concepts developed in China, including various forms of acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage (Tui na), exercise, and dietary therapy.
Physical medicine may include massage therapy or manipulative therapy.
Providing support and enabling patients to make healthy choices in order to build and maintain health on all levels: mental, physical, social, and spiritual.
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure that disease in sick people.
Naturopathic doctors individualize treatment based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, blending centuries-old natural and non-toxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering most aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. Treatments are continually re-examined in the light of scientific advances.
What to expect during a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor
The first visit with a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) may be one hour or more. Your Naturopathic Doctor will take an extensive patient history eliciting information about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health before performing a complaint-oriented physical exam. If required, your ND may then suggest further specialized testing. By using one or more disciplines (e.g. clinical nutrition, acupuncture, botanical medicine, Asian medicine, physical medicine, lifestyle counselling, and homeopathy) your ND, with your input, will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve your health goals.
What are the benefits of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor
Most patients find there are three major benefits to seeing an ND: general practice prevention-oriented medicine; valid alternatives to elective surgery or to drugs that are causing side effects; or chronic diseases for which orthodox medicine has no effective treatment. NDs collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals through consultation and referral.
Naturopathic medicine emphasizes the promotion of health, prevention of disease, patient education and individual responsibility, arguably the most therapeutically and cost-effective approaches to preventing and treating chronic disease.
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