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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is primary care and complementary medicine that treats the underlying cause of disease; it is the art and science of supporting the natural healing processes of the patient and removing any obstacles to those processes when possible. It is the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of physical, mental and emotional conditions; and it is the promotion of well-being using therapeutics that primarily support or enhance the patient’s overall health. 

What are the main reasons for seeing a Naturopathic Doctor?

Virtually all acute and chronic conditions may benefit from treatment by naturopathic physicians. Some reasons one may choose to see an ND include: 

  • To optimize health and address chronic health concerns
  • To improve overall well-being and quality of life
  • They are seeking alternatives with fewer side effects than their current medication(s)
  • In search of medicine that best complements conventional medicine 
  • To learn strategies helpful in disease prevention and health promotion
  • To receive support in dealing with a range of symptoms from an undiagnosed illness that has not been addressed.

What does a typical visit with a Naturopath look like?

Seeing an ND for the first time is very similar to seeing an MD—all primary care providers review health history and request standard diagnostic tests—but a consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor also encompasses a thorough assessment of personal health risks, including diet, exercise and stress. 

Your first visit usually lasts an hour where a comprehensive intake is conducted, focusing on a patient’s health history as well as their current medical issues. This history may involve a physical exam and the use of standard diagnostic instruments and laboratory tests. Naturopathic protocols are developed using not only standard lab tests but also lifestyle details such as dietary habits, emotional stress, exercise and exposure to environment hazards.

Are Naturopathic visits covered by insurance?

Most extended health care plan cover Naturopathic Visits, usually between $200-$500 per year. Some plans also include lab or diagnostic testing coverage. You can clarify coverage with your benefits provider directly. 

For individuals with a CRA recognized health spending account, visits to an ND are 100 percent covered. In respect to the provincial MSP plan, there is limited coverage for individuals on premium assistance or social assistance only. 

How are Naturopathic Physicians trained?

Naturopathic doctors in BC receive a minimum of three years pre-medical training at a university then complete four years post-graduate training at an accredited naturopathic medical school. Naturopathic doctors complete an estimated 1500 hours in basic bio-medical services, 1900 hours of standard medical therapeutics (e.g. pharmacology, family medicine, internal medicine, etc.) and extensive training in naturopathic treatments (preventative medicine, manipulative and physical medicine, nutritional medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, botanical medicine, etc.). Naturopathic doctors pass both provincial and international exams prior to receiving licensure. 

Are Naturopathic Doctors licensed healthcare providers?

Yes. Naturopathic physicians have bene legislated in BC as primary care providers since 1923, first under an Act which included MDs, then in 1936 under distinct self-regulating legislation. 

While interest in safe, effective, non-drug therapies waned with the postwar fascination of medical technology, there has been a marked shift back towards complementary medicine as an appropriate prevention and treatment tool. Naturopathic medicine is one of the fastest growing health disciplines in Canada. In fact, in BC, the number of licensed NDs doubled between 2000 and 2010.