What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine.
The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease.
Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.
Naturopathic medicine can help improve both acute and chronic states of ill health. Treatment options are chosen based on the individual patient – their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environment and lifestyle factors.
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
1 Clinical Nutrition – Food First!
Licensed and Board Certified Naturopath’s understand that diet is the basis for health. Adopting a healthy diet is often the first step towards correcting health problems. Licensed Naturopath’s may use individualized diets, fasting, and nutritional supplements with their patients.
2 Botanical Medicine
Plants have powerful healing properties. Many pharmaceutical drugs have their origins in plant substances. Naturopath’s use plant substances for their healing effects and nutritional value.
3 Homeopathic Medicine
The gentle yet effective system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is based on the principle that “Like cures Like”. Homeopathic medicines are very small doses of natural substances that can stimulate the body’s self-healing response without side-effects.
4 Traditional Chinese Medicine
Naturopathic graduates of an accredited institution (CNME) are trained in the fundamentals of Chinese medicine and diagnosis. We may use acupuncture and/or acupressure, and Chinese herbal medicine to promote healing.
5 Lifestyle Counseling and Stress Management
Mental attitudes and emotional states can be important elements in healing and disease. Regulated naturopathic practitioners are trained in counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management. We also tend to environmental and lifestyle factors that affect their patients’ health.
6 Pharmaceutical or Conventional Medications
Although natural treatments tend to be the first choice for the vast majority of licensed and board certified naturopath’s, they are also conventionally trained in pharmacology. ND’s are able to safely integrate natural treatments with prescription medications. In many jurisdictions, ND’s now have prescription rights as well.
What can it do for me?
Naturopathic medicine can help improve all forms of health concerns — from pediatric to geriatric, from irritating symptoms to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological. It is the approach, philosophy and training of licensed and board certified naturopath’s (in all other provinces holding the title of Naturopathic Doctor) that sets it apart from other forms of health care.
There are typically three types of patients that seek naturopathic medical care:
People that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies. Individuals that recognize that health doesn’t just happen by chance, that it is a life-long process that involves a clear understanding of the factors that affect health and how to deal with them on a daily basis. People looking for health promotion as a way of life is increasing tremendously all the time.
Individuals that have a health concerns that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners. With Naturopathic medicine’s broad understanding of health and the relationship between health, life and the environment, licensed naturopath’s are often able to offer people a new perspective and provide safe and effective ways to improve and restore health.
People that have been diagnosed with an illness and are looking for complementary treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective in improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses. It is used extensively and effectively for those patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects to drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.
The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and to treat the root cause of dis-ease. For many patients, this difference in approach to health provides them with a new perspective and awareness. By addressing the root cause(s) of disease and through the appropriate use of natural therapies many patients with chronic illness have found tremendous benefits.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability.
Licensed naturopath’s (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off and combat disease. NDs view the patient as a complex, interrelated system (a whole person), not as a clogged artery or a tumor. ND’s craft comprehensive plans that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural evidence-based approaches to restore health.
Licensed Naturopathic practitioners base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence:
Let nature heal (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Our bodies have such a powerful, innate instinct for self-healing. By finding and removing the barriers to this self-healing—such as poor diet or unhealthy habits—naturopath’s can nurture this process.
Identify and treat causes (Tolle Causum)
Licensed Naturopath’s understand that symptoms will only return unless the root illness is addressed. Rather than cover up symptoms, they seek to find the cause of these symptoms to restore overall balance.
First, do no harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Licensed Naturopath’s follow three precepts to ensure people’s safety:
1. Use low-risk procedures and healing compounds—such as dietary supplements, herbal extracts and homeopathy—with few or no side effects.
2. When possible, do not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s efforts to self-heal. For example, the body may cook up a fever in reaction to a bacterial infection. Fever creates an inhospitable environment for the harmful bacteria, thereby destroying it. Of course, the licensed naturopathic practitioner would not allow the fever to get dangerously high.
3. Customize each plan to fit each individual. We all heal in different ways and the licensed naturopathic practitioner respects our differences.
Educate patients (Docere)
Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators, as well as physicians. That’s why licensed and board certified naturopathic practitioners teach those who seek their guidance how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility and work closely with each person.
Treat the whole person
We each have a unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. The licensed naturopathic practitioner knows that all these factors affect our health. That’s why he or she includes them in a carefully tailored plan to improve health and promote well-being.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery and lives. This is why licensed naturopath’s evaluate risk factors, heredity and vulnerability to disease. By seeking guidance for greater wellness, we’re less likely to need treatment for future illness.
Education, Training and Scope of Practice
Licensed Naturopathic practitioners (also known as Naturopathic Doctors) attend four-year, graduate level programs at institutions recognized by the US Department of Education. There are currently six such schools in the United States and two schools in Canada (Toronto, ON and New Westminster, BC). Naturopathic medical schools provide the same basic and clinical sciences coursework as conventional medical schools. In fact, ND programs often provide more pharmacology and physiology than conventional medical schools.
The same premedical coursework required by conventional medical students is required for entry into a naturopathic medical school. Students must also complete two full years of supervised clinical internship. In addition to traditional clinical training, ND programs provide extensive education unique to their treatment approach, emphasizing disease prevention and wellness.
ND students must sit for and pass two board exams known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX.) The NPLEX exam is divided into 2 parts. NPLEX Part I is the equivalent to USMLE step 1 and NPLEX Part II is comparable to USMLE Steps 2 and 3 with a slanted focus towards naturopathic therapeutics. Further, in most licensed states and provinces ND’s must complete yearly continuing medical education (CME) courses to maintain their license in active status.
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) was established in February 2001, to propel and foster the naturopathic medical profession by actively supporting the academic efforts of accredited and recognized schools of naturopathic medicine. The following are a list of Member Schools:
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM)
1255 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M2K 1E2
Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
Boucher Centre, 300-435 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3L 5N8
14500 Juanita Dr. NE, Kenmore, Washington 98028-4966
National College of Natural Medicine
049 SW Porter St., Portland, OR 97201
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
2140 E. Broadway Rd., Tempe, Arizona 85282
University of Bridgeport – College of Naturopathic Medicine
Health Science Center, 60 Lafayette Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604
National University of Health Sciences (candidate)
200 East Roosevelt Road. Lombard, IL 60148
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education’s (CNME) mission is quality assurance; serving the public by accrediting naturopathic medical education programs that vountarily seek recognition that they meet or exceed CNME’s standards. Students and graduates of programs accredited or preaccredited (candidacy) by CNME are eligible to apply for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE), and are generally eligible for state and provincial licensure in the U.S. and Canada.
Board of the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination
The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) is the examination graduates of one of the approved naturopathic medical colleges must pass to be eligible for licensure in any of the 16 states or 5 provinces that license/register naturopathic physicians. The North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners is responsible for qualifying applicants to take the NPLEX, administering the NPLEX to examinees, and preparing and sending exam results and transcripts to licensing/regulatory authorities.
North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners
The purpose of the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) is to determine the qualifications of applicants to take the NPLEX, to administer the NPLEX to examinees, and to prepare and send exam results and transcripts to licensing/regulatory authorities. The institutions that regulate naturopathic medicine grant authority to NABNE to be the examining body for the naturopathic profession through their agreement to use the results of the NPLEX Examinations in their determination of the candidate’s eligibility for licensure (United States) or registration (Canada).
Our experienced team is ready to assist at our West-Island, Montreal clinic with naturopathic medicine and expert guidance, holistic nutrition and a host of other naturopathic services and programs including acupuncture and reiki.