FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Here you will find questions to some of your more commonly asked questions. If you don’t find your question below, go to the ‘contact us’ page and place your question in the comments section and we will get back to you as soon as possible

GENERAL


  • What is Naturopathic Medicine?
  • How is Naturopathic Medicine Different from Conventional (Allopathic) Medicine?
  • How is Naturopathic Medicine Similar to Conventional (Allopathic) Medicine?
  • Are Naturopathic Medical Programs Accredited?
  • How are NDs Regulated? What does it mean when an ND is a Member of the CNDA?
  • Does Naturopathic Medicine Work? Are Naturopathic treatments supported by Research?
What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a system of healthcare that utilizes natural methods and substances to restore and maintain health while preventing illness. The naturopathic practitioner utilizes skill, knowledge and intuition to get to the root cause of the problem and comes up with an appropriate treatment plan that is unique to a patient’s case. Naturopathic practitioners have very comprehensive training in both natural and allopathic (conventional) standards of care and hence are considered primary care physicians. Complete healing and wellness is the goal, and balancing the art and science of medicine is the ultimate asset of the naturopathic practitioner. For more information on what naturopathic medicine is, what training naturopathic doctors receive and how naturopathic doctors treat, CLICK HERE.

How is Naturopathic Medicine Different from Conventional (Allopathic) Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine and Conventional medicine are separate primary healthcare delivery systems that BOTH serve an important role in our healthcare system. Naturopathic doctors spend a lot more time getting to know their patients including their physical, mental, social and spiritual health to figure out the root cause of the patient’s illness. Treatments are focused on a ‘health building’ and prevention model. Conventional medicine focuses more on a ‘disease management’ system and treatments are focused on alleviating the patient’s current symptoms. The primary treatment for a naturopathic doctor may include diet, lifestyle and other natural substances/approaches while medical doctors primarily utilize pharmaceutical drugs. Naturopathic doctors and conventional medical doctors both have similar training but how the information is applied is different. CLICK HERE to learn about the differences. Naturopathic Medicine and Conventional Medicine can be used effectively to complement one another in the overall treatment and prevention of health.

How is Naturopathic Medicine Similar to Conventional (Allopathic) Medicine?

Naturopathic Doctors and Medical Doctors have similar training in medical sciences in terms of diagnosis, assessment and follow up. Both practitioners consult and utilize the same scientific resources to manage patient care. NDs are taught to follow the standard of care in medicine, consult medical journals, and look through the current research when determining a patient’s treatment plan. NDs will perform a general screening physical examination during your visit and may request laboratory testing as necessary. Naturopathic Doctors treat just about any condition and people of all ages similar to a medical doctor. Both are family doctors who can treat all members of your family. Both practitioners are trained to recognize emergent cases and take action to refer to an urgent care facility. In cases where the treatment of your illness is beyond the scope of a naturopathic medicine, your Naturopathic Doctor will refer you to another medical professional. CLICK HERE to see similarities in the training.

Are Naturopathic Medical Programs Accredited?

YES. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is responsible to ensure the high quality of naturopathic medical education in the United States and Canada through the voluntary accreditation of four-year, graduate-level programs in naturopathic medicine. Students and graduates of programs accredited or pre-accredited (candidacy) by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education are eligible to apply for the naturopathic licensing examinations administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE).

The CNME is the authority for establishing and maintaining the educational standards for the naturopathic profession and accredits the naturopathic colleges in Canada and the United States that enjoy recognition by the licensing and regulatory boards in the provinces and states. For more information on all accredited naturopathic programs in North America, CLICK HERE.

How are NDs Regulated? What does it mean when an ND is a Member of the CNDA?

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.

The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) is the national association for qualified naturopathic doctors across Canada. The College of Naturopathic Doctor’s of Alberta (CNDA) is the provincial regulatory body for the profession in Alberta. The College is responsible for setting requirements to enter the profession, establishing comprehensive standards, holding naturopathic doctors accountable and administering quality assurance programs. All ND related complaints on behalf of the public are investigated by the College which supports the public’s right to safe, competent and ethical naturopathic care.

The CNDA and naturopathic doctors of Alberta are regulated under the Health Professionals Act. Under the HPA, Alberta’s 30 regulated health professions are expected to meet the same requirements for governance, registration and discipline. Medical physicians, dentists and nurses are also regulated under the HPA.

Does Naturopathic Medicine Work? Are Naturopathic treatments supported by Research?

YES and YES. A large body of research exists and continues to be published that shows that Naturopathic Medicine offers tremendous health benefit to patients. There are literally thousands of medical journal research papers that support the use of natural medicines.  The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), the Institute of Functional Medicine, Harvard Medical school’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine are some of the world’s foremost medical research centers that conduct and support research on complementary health products and practices. CLICK HERE to see a recent summary of research showing the benefits of Naturopathic medicine to patients, health agencies and governments.

Naturopathic doctors embrace research similar to conventional doctors do. Similar to any conventional medical program, Naturopathic medical schools teach an evidence-based medical approach. NDs follow conventional guidelines when it comes to performing physical exams, ordering blood work, and making diagnoses for patients. NDs are taught to follow the standard of care in medicine, consult medical journals, and look through the current research when determining a patient’s treatment plan.

It is important to note that NOT every treatment recommended by conventional medical doctors is backed by sound scientific research or double-blind placebo studies. Some conventional guidelines are not backed by sound science (e.g. taking baby aspirin for prevention of heart disease and statin drugs to lower blood cholesterol) and may subject the patient to additional side effects. Naturopathic doctors will utilize modern research but also traditional wisdom and evolutionary biology, as well as clinical and personal experiences in coming up with a treatment plan.

Some natural medicine methods, like acupuncture although are not suited for double blind placebo controlled studies, are proven by the results they have achieved over hundreds of years. New standards in research are now being implemented that show benefits of acupuncture and other naturopathic treatments not easily researched using traditional scientific standards.

Finally, guidelines based on research is rooted in interpretation of evidence which evolves over time and as doctors we recommend what we believe to be the best treatment for each patient at the time.

VISITS

  • What can my ND treat?
  • What can’t my ND treat?
  • Who uses Naturopathic Medicine?
  • Is Naturopathic Medicine Covered by Health Insurance?
  • What is the typical ND-Patient Relationship like?
  • How Long is the Appointment?
  • Do I continue to see my MD and other Health Providers?
  • Do I continue with the drugs prescribed by my MD?
  • Can my ND order Lab Tests? Imaging?
What can my ND treat?

Naturopathic Doctors are recognized as primary care practitioners and as such, see a wide variety of patients of all different ages similar to family medical doctors. NDs are able to treat a range of conditions from acute conditions such as acid reflux or chronic conditions such as heart disease and arthritis. Patients that choose to have a medical doctor as their primary healthcare professional can use naturopathic care to provide adjunct or complementary care. CLICK HERE to see specific conditions treated.

What can’t my ND treat?

Naturopathic Doctors are NOT able to perform major surgery. They are required, as are all primary care professionals to identify and refer all emergent cases to the ER. Despite rigorous training in pharmaceutical medicine, NDs are NOT allowed to administer pharmaceuticals in Alberta (BC naturopathic doctors have limited drug prescription rights). NDs cannot be considered primary care practitioners for obstetric care or for infants under 6-weeks of age; however, they can still provide complementary care to a woman and her infant during these times. NDs are also not allowed to alter a medical doctor’s drug prescription regimen.

Who uses Naturopathic Medicine?

Due to the philosophical and theoretical approach to illness and wellness practiced by naturopathic doctors, many patients are turning to naturopathic healthcare as an alternative to the conventional medical system. There are typically three kinds of patients that seek naturopathic healthcare:

  1. Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners
  2. Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness and are looking for alternative treatments or new perspectives on their health
  3. Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies

In recent years there has been an increase in patients with chronic health conditions seeking naturopathic care

Is Naturopathic Medicine Covered by Health Insurance?

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) does NOT cover naturopathic services or labs requested by a naturopathic practitioner. However, naturopathic services may be covered by other government sponsored or private supplementary health insurance companies such as Alberta Blue Cross, Great West Life and Sun Life Financial. For a list of health insurance companies that cover naturopathic services, and to see if direct billing is available, CLICK HERE. Most extended health insurance plans have yearly coverage, so be sure to ask your insurance company if you are covered.

What is the typical ND-Patient Relationship like?

The naturopathic practitioner-patient relationship is quite different than a conventional medical doctor-patient relationship. Naturopathic doctors spend significant amounts of time with their patients getting to know various aspects of their life including their health, their support system, their environment, etc. The determinants of health and obstacles to cure become well known by the naturopathic doctor. Therefore, recommendations are focused on addressing the root cause of the patient’s troubles taking all these aspects into consideration.

ND’s believe it is important to spend the time to listen to each patient to discover what makes them unique and then educate them in healthy lifestyle choices. This means that patient’s walk away from each visit with a sense of satisfaction of being heard. Patients develop deep relationships with their naturopathic doctor that provide the basis for long lasting vitality. Ultimately the patient becomes empowered and plays an active role in the maintenance of their own health and the naturopathic doctor serves as a mentor, teacher and guide that the patient can turn to in times of need.

How Long is the Appointment?

Typically the first visit with a naturopathic doctor involves a comprehensive intake, a focused physical exam and a brief discussion of a generalized plan and direction of treatment. First visits usually last about 80-90 minutes to complete.

Second visits are shorter than initials visits and typically last about 40-45 minutes. Second visits may involve a review of labwork, discussion of specific treatment and more physical exams if needed.

Depending on the individual treatment plan, patients may be required to come in for 30 or 45 minute follow ups anywhere from once a week to once a month. For example acupuncture treatments may require patients to come in once a week for 6-8 weeks.

For more information on what to expect and detailed information about the structure of naturopathic visits, CLICK HERE.

Do I continue to see my MD and other Health Providers?

YES. Naturopathic care should be part of an integrative team approach and should include a variety of healthcare professionals. Different healthcare professionals have various strengths, abilities and views of health and can offer helpful new approaches. Most of the time, the various approaches used by different healthcare professionals complement each other, which is ideal in a ‘patient-centered approach.’ Ultimately the patient is responsible for coordinating their care, doing the appropriate research and selecting the right integrative professionals to achieve the best possible results.

Do I continue with the drugs prescribed by my MD?

YES. Continue to consult with your MD who prescribed your medications. NDs cannot make changes to drug prescriptions in Alberta. In many cases however, your medications may need to be reduced as a result of continuing adjunctive naturopathic treatments. The use of pharmaceutical drugs may be diminished or replaced completely by natural alternatives but it is always advised that you check with your MD about adjusting the dosage or type of medication.

Naturopathic doctors undergo rigorous pharmaceutical training. It is important for the patient to declare to the naturopathic practitioner all pharmaceuticals they are taking so that potential interactions such as drug/herb interactions can be determined and factored into the treatment plan.

Can my ND order Lab Tests? Imaging?

Alberta Healthcare does NOT cover blood work requested by NDs; therefore, patients must use extended healthcare benefits or must pay the cost out of pocket. Costs will vary depending on the test(s).

Currently, NDs use private laboratory services to provide a full range of testing including blood, saliva and urine as well as for PAP smears. NDs can also do a wide variety of in-house laboratory tests to check for dynamic body functioning without the need for drawing blood or long laboratory wait times. In my clinic we use Rocky Mountain Analytical and Calgary Lab Services for all labwork. For more information on standard and specialized lab tests available CLICK HERE.

At this time, naturopathic doctors in Alberta are not able to request ultrasound, x-ray or other imaging diagnostics. These are ordered through the patient’s medical doctor.

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