This article will help you figure out whether a naturopathic doctor is the best person to help you, and if so, how to choose a naturopath.
Naturopathic Medicine is a multi-dimensional approach to health, based on centuries-old traditions of healing. It has now been proven by a huge body of modern scientific research. If you’ve never seen a naturopath, you may be surprised to see that we use conventional tests and a scientific approach to treating your health issues.
But what probably won’t surprise you is that our treatment protocols are natural, non-toxic and exceptionally safe. And that one of our main goals is to fix the root cause of your health concerns rather than just the symptoms…
Understand The differences, make the right choice
Naturopathic Medicine Vs. Conventional Medicine
A simple comparison between conventional medicine and naturopathy is that the conventional approach is more focused on curing, while naturopathy is more focused on healing.
Both are important.
Curing refers to removing a disease or health issue, something most of us need from time to time. But removing the issue doesn’t necessarily address the reason it was there to begin with.
That’s where healing comes in. Conventional medicine can be life-saving when you have an emergency. It’s also often important when you have a broken bone. It can be helpful for curing some illnesses, too.
Naturopathy heals the root cause of your health issue and is also invaluable for preventing future issues. Naturopathy is used for many issues including pain management – both external (e.g. back pain, arthritis) and internal (e.g. abdominal pain, asthma), mental well-being (stress, anxiety and fatigue), women’s issues, children’s health, skin conditions, and weight loss. It can also be helpful in treating problems and terminal conditions that conventional medicine may have given up on.
Naturopathic doctors study for a minimum of 7 years of post-secondary education. At least four of those are in a naturopathic college. Many NDs go to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, an environment very similar to medical school.
First and foremost, the tenets of naturopathic care are to do no harm. Naturopaths consider the patient as a whole person, treat the causes of disease and teach patients about a healthy lifestyle and prevention.
So How do we choose?
How To Choose Conventional Vs. Natural
What makes conventional doctors unique is that they’re able to perform surgery and prescribe pharmaceuticals.
Actually, some naturopathic doctors in Toronto and Ontario are now able to prescribe many pharmaceuticals, too. That said, many of them will turn to natural remedies first.
What makes naturopaths unique is that they draw on nutrition, herbal medicine, vitamins and minerals, acupuncture, homeopathy, bodywork, bioidentical hormones, nutritional IVs, counselling, and other complementary modalities to fix the root cause of your problem in order to help you heal.
They also have much more time to spend with you than doctors do. That means they can better understand your full health picture.
So if you’re looking for a cure, conventional medicine is often the way to go. If you’re looking to heal a disease or otherwise improve your mental, emotional or physical health, naturopathic medicine is often the way to go.
If you’re looking for both, you can go see both to get the benefits of their different education and experience.
What Should I ask?
The basic questions to ask yourself when looking for a naturopathic doctor are:
Do they focus on your health issue?
Naturopaths treat many issues, but they often end up focusing on a few areas. When you’re reading an ND’s bio or talking with them, be sure to check if they have experience successfully treating your health concerns. Also, find out how they would go about working with you.
Are they licensed?
In Ontario, naturopathic doctors must complete four years in a naturopathic college, whereas in some provinces and states, the word naturopath is not regulated. Wherever you live, it’s worthwhile to ask them about their education.
Do they lead a healthy lifestyle?
Some people suggest you should only work with health practitioners who are a picture of health themselves, but if you look a little closer at this, you may find it’s not the best yardstick. The reason is that many practitioners, especially naturopathic doctors, pursued this career path because they had been struggling with chronic health issues of their own which were dramatically improved when they got help from their own naturopath. They still may have some symptoms of those health issues that may be with them for life, so they may not be in perfect health. The more important question, therefore, is do they lead a healthy lifestyle? Do they practice what they preach?
What is their other background?
On top of their naturopathic schooling, many naturopathic doctors have additional training that could be helpful for your situation. Examples are kinesiology, doula, IV therapy, abdominal therapy, conventional medicine – the list goes on. Some practitioners made lean to more western, conventional approaches, while others may lean to more eastern, traditional approaches.
Will they work with your conventional doctor?
If you’re currently seeing a conventional physician and/or are taking prescription medications, you’ll want to find a naturopath in a Toronto clinic who will work with your doctor. Naturopaths understand interactions between their remedies and conventional prescriptions. And if you’re getting ready for surgery or another conventional treatment, your naturopath can play a huge role in accelerating your recovery.
Do you trust them and feel comfortable with them?
One of the reasons we filmed videos with each naturopathic doctor at the links below is so you can get a feel for if you’d be a good fit to work together. On top of that, it’s always a good idea to book a free 15 minute consultation with any practitioner to see how it feels in person, and to ask them any questions you have.
What Does A Full Visit To Mahaya Look Like?
Warm, Friendly and engaging
Your first full session with a naturopathic doctor often takes around 90 minutes in order to give them time to:
Answer your questions.
Discuss your diet, exercise, stress, sleep, lifestyle.