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Naturopathic Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

holistic, integrated approach to health & healing

NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE IS... a coordinated approach to primary health-care that meets the individual needs of each patient. In addition to conventional training in health sciences and diagnostics, naturopathic doctors employ a range of natural therapies and non-invasive techniques to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to health and healing.

Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, addressing acute and chronic conditions while emphasizing disease prevention. Educating patients on personal health management is an important role of an ND.

The goal of naturopathic medical treatment is to address the underlying cause of disease, while avoiding treatments that might induce further harm, either by producing unwanted side effects or by complicating the existing condition.


Conditions Commonly Treated by NDs Include:

  • Allergies & asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Colds & flu
  • Digestive issues
  • Menstrual & hormonal issues
  • Depression & insomnia
  • Chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc.)
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Obesity

Naturopathic Treatments

Naturopathic doctors use a variety of therapies - often referred to as modalities - to treat their patients.

Who is Naturopathic Medicine For?

Healthcare for the whole family

Health-care for the Whole Family

Naturopathic medicine is natural primary health-care for the whole family, including children and seniors.

Treatable Acute Conditions

At the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic we treat acute conditions such as colds and flus, as well as chronic illnesses like arthritis, allergies and diabetes.

Mental Health Issues

Naturopathic medicine can also be used in the treatment of mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety.


History of Naturopathic Medicine

Botanical Medicine: medicinal herbs

Naturopathic medicine in North America can be traced back to Dr. Benedict Lust, who used the term "naturopathy" to describe the integrated practice of botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, nutritional and lifestyle counselling, manipulative therapy and acupuncture.

Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York, which graduated its first class of naturopathic practitioners in 1902. These practitioners went on to form the Naturopathic Society of America and established naturopathic medical colleges throughout North America.

By 1920, naturopathic medical practice was established in Canada, with laws regulating the practice enacted in Ontario in 1925, British Columbia in 1936, Manitoba in 1943 and Saskatchewan in 1952.

Naturopathic medical education within Canada began in 1978 with the founding of the post-graduate Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (now the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine) in Toronto.

In 2000 the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine opened in British Columbia to further support the growing demand for naturopathic medical education in Canada.

Adapted from the History of Naturopathic Medicine: A Canadian Perspective (2009)

More on the history of naturopathic medicine in North America:

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Six defining principles inform the practice of naturopathic medicine:

1First, Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)
Naturopathic physicians choose the most non-invasive and least toxic treatments necessary for each patient.

2The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
Naturopathic doctors recognize the body’s inherent ability to heal itself.

3Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle causam)
Naturopathic doctors identify, address and remove the underlying causes of disease.

4Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Educating and supporting patients on personal health management is an important role of an ND. Naturopathic physicians empower patients to take responsibility for their own health. NDs also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

5Treat the Whole Person
This is a holistic concept that recognizes the body as an integrated whole. Naturopathic doctors treat the patient, not the disease. A naturopathic assessment addresses the nutritional status, lifestyle, family history, physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors in a person’s life.

Naturopathic doctors promote a focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.

Scope of Practice

BC: regulated health-care providers

Legal Aspects are Varied

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.

Scope of Practice in B.C.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) can choose from a range of treatments (referred to as modalities) to support the body's ability to heal.

Clinical Nutrition
NDs believe that diet and digestion are integral to health, healing and disease prevention. NDs address a number of medical conditions with dietary changes and nutritional supplements, minimizing the side effects that can occur with other treatments.

Botanical Medicine
The use of plant-based medicine continues to be the most common therapy used across the globe - around 80 per cent of world's population use botanical medicine. Fundamental to naturopathic medical practice, botanical medicine is central to the curriculum at the Boucher Institute.

plant-based medicine: common therapy

Physical Medicine
Physical medicine encompasses all forms of manual therapy, including massage, physical therapy and structural realignment. Physical medicine is used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions - both acute and chronic.

Psychological Counselling
The use of counselling, biofeedback and visualisation techniques to help patients understand, explain and change their behaviour and lifestyle habits.

Acupuncture & Traditional Asian Medicine
Traditional Asian Medicine is a holistic medical system which combines the use of acupuncture, acupressure, Asian botanicals and movement exercises to bring the body into balance.

Because Traditional Asian Medicine is part of the curriculum, graduates from the Boucher Institute are eligible to practice acupuncture without any further training.


Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, animals and minerals. Three central doctrines inform this evolving modality:

  •  The law of similar (like cures like).
  •  The effect of medication can be heightened by its administration in minute doses.
  •  Nearly all diseases are the result of suppression.

Pharmacology involves studying the sources, chemical properties, biological effects and therapeutic uses of drugs. Pharmacology is part of the curriculum at the Boucher Institute, enabling graduates to acquire prescription authority upon licensure.

Minor Surgery
NDs in B.C. are authorized to perform minor surgery, which does not involve anaesthesia or respiratory assistance during the procedure.

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