- What is Naturopathic Medicine?
- What is the difference between a Naturopathic doctor and a Medical doctor?
- Can Naturopathic physicians prescribe pharmaceuticals?
- What is Homeopathic Medicine?
- What can Naturopathic medicine do for me?
- What kind of health conditions can benefit from Naturopathic medicine?
- Can I receive Naturopathic treatments if I am seeing a medical doctor or take prescription medications?
- Are Naturopathic treatments covered by MSP?
- Are Naturopathic treatments covered by insurance?
- What Kind of education do Naturopathic Physicians Have?
- Are Naturopathic Physicians regulated?
- What is the government’s current direction in healthcare?
- Who are the naturopathic associations and regulatory boards?
Naturopathic medicine is a form of healthcare that treats the whole person by utilizing scientific knowledge and natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are primary health-care physicians that can treat both acute and chronic conditions and who specialize in preventative care. NDs believe that illness manifests when there is an imbalance in an individual’s life. If the causative factor (obstacle to cure) can be identified and removed, the body has its own innate ability to heal itself. This is referred to as the “Healing Power of Nature.” NDs help to facilitate this innate self-healing ability through teaching people how to live healthy and through utilizing a variety of natural therapies. These may include but are not limited to: clinical nutrition, physical medicine, prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, botanical medicine, acupuncture, lifestyle counselling and homeopathy.
Both are doctors, both provide primary care and both are similarly trained. The key differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are in the philosophical approach and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients as individuals by addressing the physical, environmental, attitudinal and emotional aspects of health. This allows Naturopathic doctors to find and treat the cause of the disease using natural, least-invasive therapies. Medical doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery.
On April 9th, 2009 the BC government granted a new and expanded scope of practice for Naturopathic Physicians in British Columbia. The new scope of practice includes pharmaceutical prescription rights and access to publicly funded laboratories. The prescription rights will officially be implemented over the next few months in 2010 and include access to most prescriptions medications general practitioner medical doctors have access to.
Naturopathic physicians and conventional medical doctors receive equivalent training in pharmaceutical prescription writing throughout medical school. In British Columbia, Naturopathic physicians are licensed as primary health care practitioners. The BC government has in part expanded the naturopathic scope of practice due to the shortage of medical doctors in the province and the high demand for alternative and complimentary medicine.
Homeopathic medicine is one type of natural medicine. It is a 200 year-old system of medicine that is based on the principle of “like cures like”. Small amounts of natural substances are used to stimulate the body’s self-healing ability. A homeopath is a healthcare provider who practices homeopathy and a Naturopathic is a doctor who practices Naturopathic medicine, which includes homeopathy as one of its many therapeutic tools.
Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns from pediatric to geriatric, from acute to chronic illness and from physical ailments to psychological disturbances.
Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for all types of people. For example:
- People who are looking for preventative healthcare.
- People who want to achieve optimal health and peak performance.
- People who have a variety of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
- Patients who have been diagnosed with an illness, often serious or chronic and are looking for alternative treatments.
- Individuals with serious life-threatening illness who are looking to improve their quality of life.
- Patients who are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.
Whether it is simple dietary advice or a more complex treatment plan, all health conditions can benefit from naturopathic medicine. Some conditions that Naturopathic Physicians commonly treat include:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Back pain/pain relief
- Cancer and Cancer prevention
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Colds and flu
- Digestive problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Infertility and impotence
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Prostate health
- Pregnancy preparation and health
- Rapid aging
- Skin conditions
- Sports injuries and athletic improvement
- Weight Management
- Women's health
Absolutely! Naturopathic Physicians are trained in pharmacology and are aware of the potential interactions between drugs and natural health products. Many of the horrible side effects of drugs can be minimized or counteracted by the appropriate intervention of naturopathic medicines. In today’s world it is extremely important that people have a team of healthcare providers with different specialties that can work together to provide the most complete healthcare possible.
No. Naturopathic medicine is a privatized healthcare system and is based on a fee for service. If you are on premium assistance you are eligible for a total of 10 visits per year. You will still pay the normal fee amount at the time of your visit and MSP will reimburse a portion of your visit directly.
Many extended medical benefit plans cover consultations and treatments with Naturopathic Physicians. This includes many extended health care plans provided by employers or through private insurance companies.
There are several different types of plans you may have access to. Some plans cover a specific dollar amount per year designated for naturopathic healthcare. Some plans, known as flex plans, set aside a certain amount of money an individual can assign to the health professional of their choosing.
To find out if your employer or private insurance provider covers naturopathic healthcare for you and your family contact the provider of your health insurance plan or your human resources department. If you need any further assistance please contact Okanagan Naturopathic Healthcare at 250-860-8855.
All naturopaths must have first completed a University Bachelor’s Degree with specific upper-level science credits before being accepted into the Naturopathic Medical program. Dr. Phillips has completed his science degree with a major in biology. He has also completed course-work towards a degree in education.
The Naturopathic medical program for a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine is a four-year full time program that consists of 4500 hours of instruction and an additional 1500 hours of clinical internship and preceptorship.
The first two years of the Naturopathic Medical program are primarily composed of basic medical sciences which are equivalent to the training conventional medical doctors receive. This includes:
- Infectious Disease
- Physical Clinical Diagnosis
- Differential Diagnosis
- Laboratory Diagnosis
- Diagnostic Imaging
In the later years, the training focuses more on Naturopathic therapeutic modalities and a practical clinical internship. Some of the course-work includes:
- Botanical Medicine
- Clinical Nutrition
- Psychology and Counselling
- Psychological Assessment
- Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Joint and Muscle Assessment
- Exercise and Training Methods
- Naturopathic Manipulation
- Traditional Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture
Some of the Clinical Sciences include:
- Public Health
- Environmental Health
- Women's Health
- Clinical Ecology
- Emergency Medicine
Post Graduate Training:
Naturopathic Physicians are mandated to keep their knowledge current and therefore must participate in various Continuing Education courses. There are various associations that provide educational seminars and workshops to help doctors keep current on new research, technology and skills. The Annual BCNA conference, the CAND conferences, the Northwest conferences and NATI seminars are a few of the continuing education programs in which Naturopathic Physicians participate in.
Naturopathic physicians practice in several provinces and states under various legal provisions. The following jurisdictions have laws that specifically register or license Naturopathic Physicians:
Canadian Naturopathic practices are regulated under provincial laws in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Alberta regulations are pending and are expected to be completed this year. All other provinces and territories are actively pursuing regulation and are expecting licensure in the next five years.
There are fourteen states that license NDs: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Washington as well as the District of Columbia and the US Territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
These provinces and states have their own examining or licensing boards and requirements for registration and licensure. All registrants require the successful completion of the international Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) and provincial oral, practical, and jurisprudence exams. To write NPLEX one must first complete the four-year bachelor's degree and the additional four years of study at an accredited Naturopathic Institution.
Once licensed, a Naturopathic Physician must also meet the Continuing Medical Education credits on an ongoing basis, as required by the provincial regulatory boards.
Currently under Administrative Law, the Naturopathic Medical profession is governed by the British Columbia Health Professions Act (the same act that regulates conventional medical doctors), and by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia (CNPBC) and its bylaws.
Naturopathic Physicians have been licensed in BC since 1921.
In the 2008 Throne Speech directed by Health Minister George Abbott and Premier Gordon Campbell, the BC government formalized the declaration of intent and outlined the policy direction of BC’s healthcare. The British Columbia Naturopathic Association (BCNA) expressed their support for the Campbell government’s speech, which introduced bold new directions for healthcare and emphasized better use of health professionals to meet patient needs. The government has recognized that the shortage of health professionals continues to grow and the best way to combat that challenge is to improve the ability for naturopathic physicians to better serve patients. The provincial government is acting on the public’s desire for choice in health care and a more collaborative approach amongst health professionals. Furthermore, due to the demands on healthcare services and the growing recognition of Naturopathic training and expertise, it is expected that Naturopaths in British Columbia will be receiving prescriptive rights to various pharmaceuticals within the next year.
College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC (CNPBC) - creates bylaws, governs the profession and protects the public. www.cnpbc.bc.ca
BC Naturopathic Association (BCNA) - supports Naturopathic Physicians and helps to educate the public about Naturopathic Medicine. www.bcna.ca
Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) - supports Naturopathic Physicians and helps educate the Canadian public about Naturopathic Medicine. www.cand.ca
NATI Naturopathic Academy of Therapeutic Injection (NATI) - trains and licenses doctors across North America on how to safely and effectively perform therapeutic injections. www.injectiontx.org