Are you wondering if you should go to a Naturopathic Doctor? Are you not sure of what they are or how they can help you? Should I go to a Naturopathic doctor or a Medical doctor? Don’t worry, you are not alone. I get those questions all the time. In fact, about half of my patients didn’t know what a Naturopathic Doctor was or did until they sat in my office. The short answer is that Naturopathic Doctors and Medical Doctors both practise medicine from a similar foundation and level of training, however Naturopathic doctors can not prescribe pharmaceuticals, but can recommend a wide variety of natural alternatives. Naturopathic doctors and Medical doctors are unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Naturopathic Doctors receive similar training as a Family Doctor would. They both have an undergraduate degree and have completed their respective medical school. They both receive training in anatomy, human physiology, biochemistry, pathology, and pharmaceuticals. Naturopathic doctors also receive training in nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counselling, acupuncture, and exercise therapy.
Naturopathic doctors also receive similar pharmaceutical training as a family doctor although they can not prescribe medications depending on the province or state that they practise in (NOTE: Naturopathic Doctors in British Columbia can prescribe medications, with some exceptions). They receive this training so that they can help monitor patients on medications for side effects or adverse reactions, and so that they can help patients avoid interactions between medications and natural health products.
How can a Naturopathic Doctor help you
Naturopathic doctors use natural therapies to stimulate the healing abilities of your body. These are the same healing abilities that your body uses to heal a cut or a broke bone. Naturopathic doctors will stimulate these abilities to address your health concern.
Naturopathic doctors can use these techniques and more to address your concerns:
Botanical medicine: a plant based medicine that involves the use of herbal teas, tinctures, capsules, and other forms of herbal preparations to assist in recovery from injury and disease. Example: lavender tea which is used for anxiety
Traditional Chinese Medicine: includes the use of acupuncture to eliminate disease and balance body functions. It can also be used for local aches and pains
Hydrotherapy: the use of hot and cold water applications to improve circulation and stimulate the immune system. Example: infrared saunas contrasting with cold water to stimulate post-workout recovery.
Nutritional medicine: the use of individualized dietary and supplemental recommendations to address deficiencies, treat disease, and promote health.
Lifestyle counselling: involves identifying risk factors and making recommendations to help optimize one’s physical, mental, and emotional environment.
When to see a Naturopathic Doctor
When you have a concern that just won’t get better, you have tried medications or at home therapies but nothing works. When you just can’t figure out why you are not feeling your best. Naturopathic Doctors are experts at putting together the puzzle that is your health. They take a thorough history of your concern, perform relevant physical exams, and lab testing to gather all the information that is needed to determine the root cause of your symptoms.
They are also a great additional member to your health team regardless of your concern, because they aim to work with your other doctors or health professionals to promote your health.
Are your hormones are out of whack? Is PMS driving you crazy every month? Does menopause have you feeling down? Naturopathic doctors can look into the causes of hormonal imbalances and correct them through nutrition, herbs, and Bio-Identical hormones.
Is your digestion sluggish, irregular, or making you bloated? Naturopathic Doctors work with you to identify the reason why your digestion is too slow or too fast, causing you pain or distress. In fact, this is where most Naturopathic doctors will start when putting together your treatment plan because your gut and your digestion are foundational to your health. If you gut is not working optimally it is mostly likely causing problems elsewhere, including your joints, brain, and hormones.
When not to see a Naturopathic Doctor
- In an emergency – please go to the emergency department
- When you need a prescription medication. Naturopathic Doctors are not able to perscribe pharmaceuticals in Ontario. If you need a prescription medication please contact your family doctor
- If you require X-rays or other imaging. While Naturopathic Doctors can order blood work, they can not order imaging. Go to your family doctor or the emergency department depending on the reason for the X-ray.
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Yours in health,