Naturopathic Medicine - Who Is In Charge Of Your Natural Health Care?

It is estimated that up to 80% of people seek out natural therapies before going to their doctor for their health concerns. While these treatments can be very helpful when used appropriately, most people still don't know the difference between a naturopath, a homeopath, an herbalist and other natural health care providers.

What Do Naturopathic Doctors Treat?

From the common cold to diabetes a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine can treat anything you would see your family physician for. The most common conditions include; bowel problems (IBS, Crohn's, Colitis, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn etc.), women's health issues (infertility, PMS, menopause, birth and labor etc.), allergies, asthma, weight problems, behavioral and learning problems and pain (migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis).

What is the Difference?

Education, training, licensing and regulation and types of treatments offered are what set Naturopathic Doctors apart. Along with Registered Massage Therapists and Chiropractors, a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is regulated and licensed by the provincial government.

This means that your Naturopath has completed extensive education, training and certifying examinations in order to be eligible to practice in Ontario. Therefore a Naturopath has a minimum of 7 years of university study (at least 3 pre-med and 4 at an accredited college such as the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine). Unfortunately naturotherapists, herbalists, and other unregulated natural health care workers do not have medical training or standardized education.

Another difference is in the types of therapies offered. A Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine can do physical exams and send you for blood tests similar to a medical doctor. As well she has been educated in pharmacology and therefore understands how natural medicines can interact with any prescription medications you may be taking.

On top of this a Naturopathic Doctor also has completed 4 years of studies in clinical nutrition, neutraceuticals (vitamins and minerals), herbal medicines, homeopathy, Traditional Asian Medicine including acupuncture, lifestyle counseling and physical therapies (exercise, stress reduction etc).

How Do I Know If The Person I'm Seeing Is A Naturopathic Doctor?

In searching for a qualified Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine it is easy to become confused. Don't be fooled. A naturotherapist or anyone using the title naturopathic doctor (with lowercase n.d.) after their name is not a Naturopathic Doctor.

What should you look for? First of all check that the individual has graduated from an accredited naturopathic college and is licensed by the Board of Directors Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (416-866-8383). You may also wish to find out if they are members of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors or the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (416-233-2001).

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