What is a naturopathic doctor, anyways?
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We are licensed health care providers in Ontario, regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). Why is regulation important? This means we are accountable to our board to maintain standards of care, standards of charting, and that we upkeep our knowledge through continuing education.
We are experts in lifestyle medicine and natural medicine. Instead of learning as much about drugs and surgery as medical doctors do in medical school, we spend time learning about nutrition, lifestyle change, physical medicine, supplements, and herbs. This means that we are prepared to be experts in helping you ACHIEVE health, and not just avoid disease. Drugs and surgery can be very important and necessary, but often times, the real solution to chronic health conditions comes from changing behaviours in your daily life.
We have completed at least 8 years of post-secondary education. We are required to graduate from an undergraduate degree, meeting certain criteria of science pre-requisite course, in order to apply to the naturopathy program. There are two accredited schools in Canada that have programs in naturopathy: the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. More and more research is being done on naturopathic medicine: check out this list of resources for the most recent studies relating to naturopathic medicine.
We are (mostly) covered under your extended benefits plans! Check yours! Any visits with a licensed naturopathic doctor are free of HST, and they are often covered under extended benefits plans. This means there are relatively few barriers to working on your performance and your health with us!
We have studied the basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, endocrinology).
Through our understanding of basic sciences, this prepares us to work together with your family doctor, specialists, chiropractor, osteopath, registered massage therapist, or any other health care providers with which you seek care.
For a great breakdown comparing and contrasting naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine programs, check out this article by the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
We have studied physical and clinical diagnosis. With our license, naturopathic doctors are granted the ability to request lab work (not covered by OHIP) and deliver a diagnosis. This means that we can act as a primary point of contact in non-emergent situations to be able to help decide how to best get you to a point of health.
We interact with your other health care professionals. All professionals can be better at their jobs by having open communication (with your approval) with each other. By keeping your other health care providers in the know about changes that we are making to your care plan, they too can make the most informed decisions about how they can help you best.
We CAN prescribe some drugs in Ontario, if an ND has passed an additional exam. I have not taken this exam, and thus I don't prescribe any drugs.
A naturopathic doctor can NOT tell you to stop any medication that you are currently taking unless they have prescribing authority for that drug, and we will not interfere with any prescriptions that your family doctor has made without a conversation with the prescribing physician.
There is a lot of variety between naturopathic doctors, so I like to be clear about aspects of my practice that differentiate me from other practitioners:
1. I don't recommend an altered vaccine schedule.
2. I choose not to practice homeopathy.
3. I do not treat cancer in any way. Naturopathic doctors can get additional training in integrative oncology (which I have not completed), and the highest standard in the profession is held by naturopathic doctors that are board certified by the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology, and carry the FABNO (Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology) designation. The NDs that have their FABNO have met the criteria to be board certified in naturopathic oncology, and have passed the board certification exam.
If you need a referral for a family member, friend, or colleague that is seeking out complementary cancer care, please consider recommending these clinics:
- Dr. Michael Reid ND FABNO
- Dr. Dugald Seely ND FABNO and Dr. Daniel Lander ND FABNO
- Dr. Jill Shainhouse ND FABNO
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