WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE? Naturopathic Medicine in Alberta is a primary health care system that combines modern, evidence based knowledge with traditional and non-pharmaceutical forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to support the healing potential of the body and to focus on treating the underlying cause of disease rather than treating symptoms. In general, symptoms are seen as an improper functioning of the body and disease is recognized as a process, rather than an entity in itself. Naturopathic Medicine is built on a patient-centered approach that emphasizes prevention, treatment and health optimization through diet and lifestyle modification. Therapeutic interventions can also include short term use of nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals and herbs until a desirable state of health is achieved. Some naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Alberta have additional specialized training in injection therapies such as B12 injections, neural therapy, prolotherapy and IV therapeutics. Many NDs are also licensed to practice acupuncture. In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited naturopathic medical programs in British Columbia (BINM) and Ontario (CCNM), standardized North American Board Exams (NPLEX), jurisdictional exams, national code of ethics and standards of practice, as well as regulation in 5 provinces through the Ministry of Health and provincial Colleges. Naturopathic Medicine is a self-governing profession under the Health Profession Act.
ARE YOU A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE IN ALBERTA? Naturopathic Medicine serves as a complement to conventional medicine, rather than a substitute for mainstream medical care. There are generally three types of patients who seek naturopathic medical care:
Patients who are looking for health promotion and disease prevention.
Patients who have a range of symptoms that they have not been able to address on their own or with the help of another health care provider or medical professional.
Patients who have been diagnosed with a serious medical illness and are looking for treatment options or complements. Naturopathic medicine is effective in improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses
Naturopathic Doctors are gaining recognition both as healthcare providers and experts in the field of natural and preventive medicine. NDs are providing leadership in natural health care product research and the therapeutic application of these products in chronic diseases. Naturopathic Doctors are politically active at the Federal, Provincial and Territorial levels. There are also numerous positions opening up for NDs in hospitals, pharmacies, collaborative health care clinics and specialized health care centres across Canada and North America. Additionally, many NDs have academic opportunities to lecture at Canadian Universities, teaching in the field of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM). To date, there are over 2400 licenced NDs practicing in Canada. This number is steadily increasing as demand for complementary medicine is becoming more desired amongst the patient population. Some of the more commonly asked questions about Naturopathic Medicine are answered below:
IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE COVERED BY PROVINCIAL OR EXTENDED HEALTH CARE PLANS? Currently, most extended health care plans provide coverage for licenced naturopathic doctors. The coverage amounts and inclusions vary from one insurer to the next, but in general most Canadians receive between $500 to $1000 of coverage per annum. Typically, this is also inclusive of any general lab exams (blood), specialized lab exams (saliva hormone) and food and environmental sensitivity tests that an ND may requisition. Many clinics across Canada offer direct billing for naturopathic services as well.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT MY FIRST VISIT WITH A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR? Typically, a first visit with a Naturopathic Doctor in Edmonton is an hour long. During that time, your ND will ask you many questions about your chief health concerns, obtain a complete health history and discuss various other personal dietary and lifestyle practices. If pertinent to the chief concern, your ND may also do a physical exam. Once a complete health history is obtained, your ND will work with you to establish a treatment plan to address the concern(s). The treatment plan at Redefined Health may include dietary and/or lifestyle changes , as well as the addition of short term natural health product supplementation, if required.
HOW MANY VISITS WILL I NEED WITH MY NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR? Depending on the chief concern the patient presents with and the state of their current health, this will dictate how many visits a person may need with their ND. Typically a patient sees an ND more frequently during the onset of treatment and less often as they feel better. The goal for most NDs is to have their patients maintaining good health status and following up with them once per year.
IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE EVIDENCE-BASED? Over the last 30 years the focus of naturopathic medicine has shifted from archaic and anecdotal therapies to those that are supported by research studies and clinical trials. While much complementary medicine research is still emerging and in its infancy, NDs are intent on proving their patients with the best health care available. As part of ND annual licensing, ND are required to meet 40 hours of continuing education for general medical practice, as well as additional hours to meet requirements for therapies like acupuncture and injections. All continuing education is evidence based and taught by licenced MDs and NDs in good-standing with their respective Colleges.