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What is naturopathic medicine?

bullet Experts in natural health and wellness
bullet A naturopathic doctor will use many healing modalities
bullet Who can be helped with naturopathic medicine?
bullet How are naturopathic doctors trained?
bullet What can I expect during a visit to a naturopathic doctor?

Experts in natural health and wellness

Naturopathic Medicine is an exciting way of looking at health and wellness that takes its roots in many ancient-healing traditions. In this way, we see health as the normal state in the body, which is easily influenced by environment, every day experiences and emotions.

bullet Treat the whole person; mind, body and spirit
bullet Discover the underlying causes of illness
bullet Trust the body's innate ability to heal ourselves.
bullet Do No Harm. Naturopaths opt for safe, gentle and effective means of healing.
bullet Prevention. Naturopathic health care is for those who want to understand which actions and attitudes contribute to better health.

Introduction

Naturopathic Medicine is an exciting way of looking at health and wellness that takes its roots in many ancient healing traditions. One of the main principles of Naturopathic philosophy is treating the whole person; mind, body and spirit. In this way, we see health as the normal state in the body which is easily influenced by our environment, our every day experiences and our emotions. The Naturopathic practitioner seeks to discover the underlying causes of illness, and rather than merely suppressing the symptoms of the disease we support the body and promote healing with various remedies and lifestyle changes. Our fundamental philosophy is trusting that within each person, when obstacles are removed, there is an innate ability to heal ourselves.

It follows then that there is much emphasis on self responsibility for health, prevention and patient education. Naturopathic Doctors do their very best to listen carefully to what their patient has to say about their bodies and their state of mind and then, as treatment continues, help the patient to understand how and why certain diseases may have manifested within their bodies and how changing lifestyle, diet and using various remedies will help them to make positive changes with their health. Naturopathic health care is for those who want to take control of their lives and their health. It is for those who want to understand which actions and attitudes contribute to better health.

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A naturopathic doctor will use many healing modalities

Your Naturopath can draw from a wide range of therapies, and will develop a program specially designed for you. The most common modalities, which may be used individually or in combination, are described below:

Botanical medicine

Medicines derived from plants and other natural sources have been used for centuries in the treatment and prevention of disease and for maintaining a state of well being and are the subject of a growing number of clinical research studies. While the active ingredients of some plant medicines are extremely powerful, they are safe and highly effective when administered by a trained Naturopathic Doctor. Your naturopath may use more than one at a time, since in many cases the healing effects of these remedies in combination are greater than the sum of their individual actions.

Homeopathic medicine

Originally developed during the 18th century by the physician Hahnemann, this unique form of medicine is used widely by medical and other practitioners in Europe but is just beginning to take hold in North America.

Homeopathic medicine uses very diluted botanical, mineral or other substances to treat specific ailments. If a homepathic remedy is indicated, your Naturopathic Doctor will select the appropriate formulation from the thousands of homeopathic remedies available, based on your total symptom picture.

Clinical nutrition

There is an intrinsic relationship between nutrition and wellness. Naturopathic practitioners deal with a wide range of problems relating to nutrition, including factors that interfere with the bodyís absorption and utilization of nutrients and the diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions that result from inadequate or defective nutrition. Your Naturopathic Doctor will evaluate your individual nutritional status and develop a nutritional program designed specifically for you, in relation to the reason for your visit and the diagnosis of your condition.

Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture

Chinese pulse and tongue diagnosis, Acupuncture and the use of Eastern botanical medicines comprise oriental Medicine, a system of health care that has been used effectively for thousands of years in Asia, but which has only been introduced to North America in the 20th century. Since its introduction Naturopathic practitioners have used needle acupuncture and Eastern botanicals as a traditional part of Naturopathic practice. Acupuncture has been tested clinically in the treatment of chronic pain and in the weaning from addictive substances such as nicotine, caffeine and many drugs.

Naturopathic bodywork and physical medicine

Many Naturopaths use various forms of bodywork varying from soft tissue manipulation to cranial sacral therapy to the Bowen technique in order to promote health and relaxation in their patients. Hydrotherapy, or stimulation of the blood vessels or lymph vessels with hot and cold water, is also used extensively.

Lifestyle counselling

The roots of Naturopathy lie in the Natural Hygeine movement which was popular in North America in the 1800ís. The corner stones of preventive health care are clean air, clean water, exercise, healthy foods and freedom from excess stress. Naturopathic Practitioners are committed to the education and guidance of their patients in making positive changes to various parts of their current lifestyle that may be inhibiting total health and wellness. Whatever your diagnosis, you can expect to receive some lifestyle counselling every time you visit a Naturopathic Doctor, since prevention is a great part of Naturopathic philosophy and fundamental to the maintenance of good health!

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Who can be helped with naturopathic medicine?

A Naturopathic doctor is a primary care physician and patients at every age and every stage of life have been helped with Naturopathic care. Many of our patients come to us with long standing, chronic conditions such as skin diseases, respiratory diseases, female disorders or gastrointestinal diseases and find much relief with the treatment plans we are able to offer them. Many of our patients present with distressing acute illnesses affecting children or adults which can be quickly improved to help avoid pain, loss of sleep, loss of work, and anxiety. We also work in conjunction with midwives and obstetritions to ensure a healthy pregnancy and an informed and empowered labour and birth experience. Many patients come to us for education and prevention; you donít have to be sick to feel better. A Naturopathic program is looking toward the future. You can begin to feel better now and you can reduce the likelihood of suffering and illness later in life.

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How are naturopathic doctors trained?

Naturopathic Doctors must study at least 7 years to become eligible to practice in Ontario, and follow the same University pre-medical education as is received by all doctors. The Naturopathic portion of the program comprises 4 years (over 4,500 hours) of dedicated training leading to a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from an approved institution, with over 1,200 hours of supervised clinical experience at the colleges out patient clinic. There are five instututions in the United States and one in Canada that offer approved Naturopathic education.

Graduates of the comprehensive 4 year training at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine practice throughout Canada and the world.

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What can I expect during a visit to a naturopathic doctor?

On the first visit at the clinic the Naturopathic doctor will take an in-depth history, do a physical examination and use information from laboratory tests to make an assessment and diagnosis. First visits usually last approximately 1 hour. Together with your input we then formulate a treatment plan. It is very important that goals are set together so that the patient is comfortable with the Naturopathic Doctors recommendations. Subsequent or follow up visits will follow the treatment plan and address new concerns that arise in the patients life. Follow up visits usually last 20-30 minutes. If a course of acupuncture is recommended, a series of six appointments over 3 weeks will be scheduled. These visits usually last 15-20 minutes.

The cost of Naturopathic health care is a concern for most people since it is not covered in any part by OHIP. Thankfully most extended health care plans today will cover visits to a Naturopathic Doctor and remedies and supplements that you are perscribed are deductable at income tax time. When you invest in your health, you broaden your horizons and open up opportunities for success in life. No expenditure is a better investment for a successful future.

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