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Naturopathic Doctors: 10 Things You May Not Have Known About

  1. Even though a visit with a ND is not covered by OHIP most extended health plans now cover Naturopathic visits. Check yours to see if you are covered. This is actually a big advantage since ND’s are not restricted by OHIP regulations (paid by the number of patients you see etc) and can take enough time to treat each patient thoroughly.
  2. Did you know that a typical visit your family doctor lasts on average 7 minutes? A first visit with your ND can be anywhere from 60-120 minutes and a follow up is approximately 30 minutes. This allows for enough time to address the root cause of your symptoms.
  3. ND’s have eight years of post graduate education; this consists of four years of university undergraduate studies and four years of medical college. This is equivalent to the length of education for medical doctors and chiropractors. Our education includes a residency program, preceptorship and a possibility of specialization.
  4. ND’s have are trained and certified in a wide variety of treatment modalities. These include:
    • Nutritional therapy
    • Orthomolecular medicine (vitamins and minerals)
    • Botanical medicine
    • Acupuncture
    • Naturopathic manipulation/hands on therapy
    • Injection therapy
    • Intravenous therapy
    • Homeopathy
  5. In Ontario, ND’s are now legislated under the Naturopathy Act (which is under the Regulated Healthcare Practitioners Act). This means they are government approved and supported. Full proclamation is slated for 2014.
  6. ND’s practicing in British Colombia and some US states are able to prescribe certain pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics. This allows them to act as primary care doctors and better help their patients. As part of a ND’s education they are required to learn pharmacology and the safety if how natural substances interact with drugs.
  7. Naturopathic medicine is evidence-based. As an example, a recent study (april 2013) published in the prestigious Canadian Medical Association Journal found that Naturopathic medicine reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. There also is a large body of research supporting each of the therapies that are used by ND’s. For example, try typing the word probiotics into pubmed to see how many references you get (hint: it’s in the thousands).
  8. ND’s are the “Sherlock Holmes” of all healthcare practitioners. Many patients visit an ND after no other doctor or health care practitioner was able to help them or get to the bottom of their symptoms. ND’s use a comprehensive assessment, physical exam skills and lab testing to assess all aspects of their patients.
  9. ND’s use both conventional and cutting edge lab testing to assess their patients. For example they look at standard blood values such as iron levels and white blood cells but also are able to use testing from around the world to assess for hidden infections such as Lyme disease or immune activation by food allergies.
  10. Did you know the word “doctor” means “teacher?” Naturopathic doctors take their roles as teachers very seriously. Our goal is to teach our patients how to improve their health through dietary and lifestyle changes so they can have lasting and vibrant health without having to take drugs or supplements forever.

Written by: Dr. Paul Hrkal