A naturopath goes through a minimum of 7 years of postsecondary education. Prerequisites for entry into naturopathic college are similar to those required for entry into medical school and include chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. The naturopathic program itself is a four year full time program, and it includes all of the biomedical sciences that a medical doctor will study, such as anatomy (including dissection of the human body), physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, minor surgery, gynecology, immunology, obstetrics and more. A naturopath however will study naturopathic approaches to disease instead of pharmacological approaches. This means that in the naturopathic curriculum, there is an emphasis on clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle counseling. Another difference between a naturopath and a medical doctor, is that a naturopath does not have to complete a residency, and instead completes preceptorships, working in a variety of different practices to gain experience and insight into real practice. Naturopaths also complete clinical rotations during their education, treating patients under the supervision of licensed NDs. A Naturopathic Medical education is also accredited, meaning that it is heavily regulated by a licensing body.
Upon graduation from an accredited Naturopathic Medical school, a candidate qualifies to write the NPLEX (Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examinations) which is a rigorous and lengthy series of exams to determine the candidate’s ability to practice naturopathic medicine. Upon passing these exams, a Naturopathic Doctor must register annually with the licensing body, complete continuing education and remain in good standing. An external governing body regulates the naturopathic profession for the safety of the public.
Naturopathic medicine is a private service and it cannot be covered by public health care fees. Private insurance often covers treatment by a licensed naturopathic doctor.
Your health is completely your decision. Naturopathic Doctors are regulated health care practitioners and will be able to work in concert with your medical doctor, chiropractor, or specialist to help provide the most comprehensive care for you possible. A naturopathic doctor will never suggest that you should stop a medication recommended to you by a medical doctor. Often, best results are achieved when all practitioners in the circle of care work together. That being said, your health care is also confidential and it is your decision whom you’d like to share your information with. A naturopath is also trained to refer to MDs when the patient’s care is outside of the scope of practice of naturopathy.
Absolutely. Privacy is an important part of the regulation of naturopathic medicine. Patient records and information are strictly confidential.
Naturopathic medicine is an evolving field. Many years ago, it began as a traditional form of medicine, however in more recent years, with increased funding, there has been a surge of research in the area. As such, there is a great deal of scientific data to back the effects of clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle, and dietary changes on the human body. Every single day, new studies are published in the field and there is no doubt that it has efficacy both scientifically and clinically. Each naturopath may practice differently, however the evidence based movement is growing in the profession.
Often there is a greater number of naturopathic visits at the beginning, in order to gather information, perform testing and start on the steps of the treatment plan. As time goes on, the visits are often spaced further apart. The number of visits does vary with differing types of concerns but a typical pattern could be 3 visits in the first 2 months, and then monthly visits up to 6 months. Often, patients will come in for checkups with their Naturopathic Doctor several times per year to keep the balance they have achieved through treatment. Patients receiving acupuncture often come in 8-12 times spaced apart weekly.