What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

In North America, it has become increasingly common for patients to seek naturopathic medicine and the assistance of a Winnipeg naturopath. In fact, in the United States, 40 per cent of Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine to maintain health and Canada has a very similar scenario.

The big question: Is naturopathic medicine right for me?

Naturopathic doctors treat every condition; from colds to cancer and they diagnose and treat patients by identifying underlying causes of illness and developing custom treatment plans that stimulate the self-healing power of the body. They combine modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine while considering the patient’s entire health history. They rely on the least-invasive and least-toxic therapies to address the underlying causes of health issues, not just the condition itself. Naturopathic doctors are increasingly sought after to improve a patient’s long-term health and quality of life.

Naturopathic Doctors, Herbalists, and Homeopaths: What is the difference?

Naturopathic doctors are distinct from herbalists and homeopaths in that they are provincially regulated under the health care act. Some insurance companies cover naturopathic medicine for this reason. Naturopathic doctors undergo 7-years of training at an accredited institution, and pass NPLEX examinations to become regulated as a naturopathic doctor. This process is similar in length to the training of a medical doctor, however, the emphasis is on natural treatment and diagnosis. 

Naturopathic medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity. It embraces many therapies, including herbal medicine, dietary therapies, counselling, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, nutritional counselling, and more advanced naturopathic therapies such as prolotherapy, PRP, IV therapies including IV vitamin C, hyperthermia cancer therapies, and PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic therapies). The goal is to treat the whole person: the mind, the body and the spirit. Yes, they want to treat the illness but they also seek to heal the root cause of any problem.

Naturopathic doctors, much like “traditional” doctors, aim to provide relief for a variety of ailments and conditions, however, naturopathic doctors offer holistic perspectives and treatment options. Naturopathic doctors can address a wide range of health issues, including cancer, chronic disease, neurologic conditions, chronic pain including fibromyalgia, asthma, digestive issues, respiratory conditions, heart disease, allergies and more.

As part of a treatment approach, naturopathic doctors use a blend of traditional methodologies such as assessment of diagnostic tools such as laboratory reports, X-rays, CT scans and MRIs and partner these methods with holistic therapies such as botanical medicine, for example. The focus, as noted, is to support the body’s intrinsic self-repair mechanisms. A naturopathic doctor likely won’t simply write a prescription and send you on your way. Their attention is focused on developing a personalized individual treatment plan after assessing your overall health.

Naturopathic doctors aim to stimulate positive thinking, lower stress, anxiety and depression, improve overall health, boost optimism and improve one’s ability to cope with health-related issues, in addition to disease prevention.

Naturopathic medicine can also aid in reducing the use of conventional medications, reducing medication side effects and long-term toxicity symptoms. For this reason, it is an effective complement for conventional treatment of many health concerns.

Keep these six questions in mind when deciding if naturopathic medicine and seeking treatment from a naturopathic doctor is right for you:

  • Will the treatment address my ailment AND treat all of me?
  • Is the treatment personalized to my condition, lifestyle and body?
  • Are only my symptoms being addressed or is the root cause of my illness/problem being focused on?
  • Am I actively participating in managing my overall health and wellbeing?
  • Do I want treatment without having to rely on medication for great lengths of time?
  • Do I want to maximize my health?

The key for a patient seeking treatment of any ailment or condition is to ask a lot of questions and fully understand the process, the risks and the benefits, and all possible outcomes.

Discussing your health issues with a naturopathic doctor is easy because naturopaths have the time to sit and explain medical issues with you so you understand exactly what is happening and why treatments have been prescribed. Naturopaths simplify the medical jargon so patients can understand all aspects of their condition. Also, there is time to discuss labs and reports with your naturopathic doctor that medical doctors or specialists often don’t have the time to explain to their patients. The more you share about your situation, the better a naturopathic doctor is able to fully understand your condition, thus creating the most successful treatment plan.

With any medical treatment, the patient needs to make the most informed decision possible before proceeding. Doctors can provide recommendations and guidance, but ultimately a patient must fully understand what the entire process entails. An effective holistic approach with an experienced naturopathic doctor can help patients discover whole health.