Naturopathic medicine blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine resulting in a distinct primary health care practice. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease, rather than only treating symptoms, which are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits.

In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments.

Naturopathic medicine blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Naturopathic doctors are medically trained, yet are focused on supporting the body’s own natural ability to heal itself.

As a regulated health care profession, naturopathy is extremely safe, as indicated by favourable safety records and insurance data. As with any profession, however, extensive skills and knowledge are required to properly assess, diagnose and treat patients.

Licensed naturopathic doctors in Alberta are required to receive an undergraduate degree followed by a (minimum of) four year Doctor of Naturopathy Degree. Areas of education include pharmacology, clinical psychology, intramuscular injections, clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicine and physical medicine such as manipulation.

Additionally, naturopathic doctors can be further trained in areas such as acupuncture, intravenous therapy, complex injection therapy such as prolotherapy, and focus areas such as children’s health, oncology, hormones, and sports medicine and more.

Both are doctors, both provide primary care and both are similarly trained. The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach and the therapies used.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows naturopathic doctors to find and treat the cause of the disease using a variety of therapies and tapping into the body’s own ability to heal itself. Conventional doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and may use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery. In many instances naturopathic doctors and medical doctors work collaboratively as part of a patient’s health care team, as treatments are complementary in nature.

Naturopathic doctors use a variety of treatments to help their patients gain better health. All naturopathic doctors in Canada are trained in natural treatments, including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture, and prevention techniques and lifestyle counselling.

Licensed NDs can also perform additional, more advanced therapies once they have been trained and meet the competency requirements established by the provincial regulatory college. In Alberta, these include, IV therapies, chelation therapy, colon hydrotherapy, ozone therapy and minor surgery. Currently, naturopathic doctors in Alberta do not have prescribing privileges.

Many people think that the terms “naturopath” and “naturopathic doctor” are interchangeable, but they can be very different depending where you live. A Naturopathic Doctor completes more than 4,100 contact hours of instruction, including 1,200 hours of supervised, clinical, hands-on training, and must pass standardized board exams upon graduating from a four-year naturopathic doctoral accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education. A licensed ND is a primary care practitioner who is trained to diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness. NDs are also required to earn continuing education credits on an ongoing basis to maintain their registration and good standing with the regulatory body. In Alberta, “Naturopath” is a protected title (as is (a) naturopathic doctor; (a.1) doctor of naturopathic medicine; (b) naturopathic practitioner; (c) naturopath; (c.1) provisional naturopath; (d) N.D.; (e) R.N.D.) and the profession is regulated under the Health Professions Act (HPA) and the Naturopaths Profession Regulation. While in some other provinces or countries, you could come across someone practicing as a naturopath who is not qualified for regulation/licensure, that will not be the case in Alberta and Albertans can reassured by that.

The regulation and licensure of Naturopathic Doctors is governed by the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta. The CNDA makes it easy to search the Public Register of naturopathic doctors through their online search tool found HERE.

While the AAND also provides a searchable online directory for registered Naturopathic Doctors, the Association cannot guarantee that an AAND member has kept their CNDA licensure up-to-date, so it is always best to check the CNDA Public Register.

NDs are primary health care practitioners, and can treat a wide variety of health concerns, including acute and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, or is outside of their regulated scope of practice, he or she will refer to another health care provider.
Although some NDs do take a special interest in particular health conditions or specific patient groups, there are currently no specialist-level educational programs offered by naturopathic colleges. However, in addition to maintaining their continuing education requirements, many NDs pursue extended training in a particular area, such as environmental medicine, infusion therapy, or complementary cancer care. Some ND practices have a particular focus, but those are not the same as specialties.

The AAND Online Directory allows you to search for a member Naturopathic Doctor by location and/or by the treatments provided. You can find an ND in your area HERE

Fees for health care services provided by Naturopathic Doctors are not currently covered by the Alberta Health Insurance Plan (AHCIP). Most private health insurance plans (e.g. Alberta Blue Cross) do offer coverage for naturopathic medicine. Check with your benefits provider for details on what services your health insurance plan covers.

Maximizing Wellness with Key Health Tools

June 14 – 16, 2024

Join us in Edmonton for Conference 2024 including AGM, Reception, meeting with industry vendors and learning sessions.