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.
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 as individuals 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. While conventional doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and 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 are very different.
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.
Naturopath is not a protected title in Alberta, so anyone is allowed to call themselves a Naturopath. By law, a naturopath is unable to provide a diagnosis or prescribe medication. Naturopaths have access to any number of programs that are delivered online or via correspondence. Program length can vary from a few months to a few years to complete. There is no standardized or accredited curriculum nor supervised clinical experience. Individuals taking any of these programs are not eligible to write the North American standardized board exams (NPLEX) and do not qualify for regulation/licensure.
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.
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.