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Naturopathic Medicine 101

Naturopathic Medicine 101 While naturopathic medicine is becoming more popular among Canadians, there remains some mystery surrounding its philosophy and practice. This post will give you a better understanding of the philosophy, the modalities (treatments) and the general conditions treated by naturopathic doctors (NDs).

The naturopathic approach is based on individualized patient care and is focused on treating the underlying cause of illness and disease. Often quoted by our school’s President, Dr. G.S.S Khlasa, “Naturopathic medicine should be defined by its principles, rather than its modalities.”

Six defining principles inform the practice of naturopathic medicine:

  1. First, Do No Harm
  2. The Healing Power of Nature
  3. Identify and Treat the Causes
  4. Doctor as Teacher
  5. Treat the Whole Person
  6. Prevention

Naturopathic physicians employ seven recognized modalities when treating patients. These include:

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, cupping and moxibustion)
  2. Lifestyle Counselling (prevention, diet, exercise etc.)
  3. Botanical Medicine (tinctures, dry herbs, salves)
  4. Homeopathic Medicine (based on the notion of like cures like, homeopathic medicine uses minute doses of diluted substances)
  5. Hydroptherapy (the use of water – internally and externally – hot, cold, with or without minerals)
  6. Soft tissue or “naturopathic” manipulation (massage, naturopathic adjustments, ultrasound, interferential currents, TENS, magnetic field therapy)
  7. Nutrition (dietary testing, nutritional testing)

Naturopathic doctors utilize a number of tests as well, including:

  • Allergy scratch testing
  • Food allergy testing (blood work)
  • Stool analysis
  • Hormone testing (blood, saliva)
  • Heavy metal testing (blood, hair)
  • Nutritional status testing
  • ECGs & spirometry tests

Who can benefit from naturopathic treatment?

Naturopathic medicine is effective at treating almost any condition you would see an MD for, including:

  • Digestive conditions (indigestion, acid reflux, IBS, Crohn’s disease, gas and bloating and colitis etc.)
  • Women’s health (PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, menopause and fertility etc.)
  • Allergies & asthma
  • Chronic disease (cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, diabetes etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Depression, anxiety & insomnia

Scope of Practice

The legal aspects surrounding the practice of naturopathic medicine vary according to province, territory and state. In British Columbia, naturopathic physicians are regulated, licensed and insured as primary health-care providers.

In British Columbia, Naturopathic Physicians:

  • Have prescribing authority
  • Are licensed to perform minor surgery
  • Are trained in medical assessment and diagnosis
  • Treat most health-care concerns - both acute and chronic
  • Have similar legal responsibilities as conventional medical doctors
  • Complete the standard pre-medical degree followed by four to six years of naturopathic medical education

If you’re interested in exploring naturopathic medicine we suggest you make an appointment at the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic, where our clinic interns, under the supervision of licensed naturopathic doctors, can answer all of your questions.

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