Questions: About naturopathic medicine

What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the healing power of nature and it supports and stimulates the body's ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional chinese medicine / acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.

How does it compare to conventional medicine?

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 natural, non-invasive therapies. Allopathic doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery.

What can naturopathic medicine do for you?

Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns -- from paediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological. Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for the following types of patients:

  • Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
  • Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
  • Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness, often serious or chronic and are looking for alternative treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective for improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
  • Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments..

What is the history of naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine was introduced in North America in 1902 by Dr. Benedict Lust. By 1920, naturopathic practice was well established in Canada. Laws regulating naturopathic practice were enacted in Ontario by 1925, in British Columbia in 1936, in Manitoba in 1943 and in Saskatchewan in 1952. The CAND has been representing the profession's interests in Canada since 1955.

After the Second World War health care moved away from a more natural approach, focusing on the advances in surgical techniques, the introduction of antibiotics and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. In the last twenty years, public desire for greater control in the health care process and a growing dissatisfaction with high-tech solutions to health problems has resulted in a resurgent interest in the natural methods of preventive health care. This trend has increased demand for naturopathic services as people seek ways to improve their health, cope with day-to-day stresses and avoid illness.

Naturopathic medical education began in Canada in 1978 with the founding of the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (OCNM) in Toronto. In 1992, the College became the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). In 2000, the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine opened in British Columbia to provide further educational opportunities for students seeking training as naturopathic doctors.

Naturopathic medicine today

Today, more people than ever are seeking naturopathic medical care and the number of naturopathic doctors is growing at record rates to accommodate this increased demand. Currently there are naturopathic doctors practicing in every province and territory in Canada. The over 1,200 licensed naturopathic doctors in Canada continue to provide high-quality health care to address the health care needs of Canadians.
In Canada there are five provinces that have naturopathic regulation: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta. Most of the other provinces are in the process of seeking regulation of naturopathic medicine.

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