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Your Health and Naturopathic Medicine

Guest article by Dr. Kelly Brown, Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic medicine is an individualized and holistic medicine used to treat illness and obtain optimal health. It is accomplished by using natural therapies and treating the root cause of the illness. The natural therapies are selected based on modern scientific knowledge.

A Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.) is a highly-educated practitioner of Naturopathic medicine. Among the areas an N.D. can help with are:
•    Women’s health - hormonal issues due to menopause or gynecological problems
•    Endocrine disorders - hypothyroid and diabetes
•    Digestive disorders and weight loss
•    Skin conditions - such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema
•    Immune system - colds and flus, fatigue
•    Stress, anxiety, depression and addictions
•    Blood, food allergy and hormone analysis

What kind of training do Naturopathic Doctors have?

Eight years of education is the minimum time for an N.D. to receive a licence. First an undergraduate degree is obtained, with a basis of science.  Students then complete 4 years in medical training at an accredited college. The first two years are very similar to a Medical doctor where they learn about the human body and how to diagnose. This education is done through many courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology, differential diagnosis, laboratory analysis, minor surgery, embryology, and immunology. Throughout the four years, students also learn the different treatment methods as well as pharmacology. It is important for N.D.’s to understand medical drugs even if in all provinces they are unable to prescribe them. Drugs can often interact with herbs or supplements, and the side effects of drugs may also cause some of the conditions a patient is experiencing. 

N.D.’s are extensively trained in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture), counselling, and homeopathy.  The fourth year of education is a residency program where the students treat patients under the supervision of a Naturopathic Doctor who has practiced for multiple years.  On completion of graduation, a 3-day board exam is written to determine if the person is educated and fit to practice. That is followed by a 1-2 day provincial exam to obtain the final Naturopathic License.

What types of therapies do Naturopathic Doctors use?

Clinical nutrition

Used in treating multiple diseases which include the gut, as well as conditions that can be changed through diet choices and education. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and nutraceuticals are also used to help patients achieve their optimal health. Clinical nutrition is also a large contributor to prevention of disease.

Botanical medicine
Herbs, plants, or specific extracts to treat diseases and illness. They have a low rate of side effects but have a powerful effect on the body, from immune function, hormone regulations, sleep disorders, blood pressure, digestive health, cardiovascular function. Just to name a few!


Can be used from a traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis or used locally for pain and inflammation management. It has been clinically proven to be helpful in chronic pain, quitting smoking, recent scar reduction, labour induction and many other conditions.

Lifestyle Counselling

Counselling on emotional and environmental factors are also discussed. Many factors affect a patient’s health therefore all areas of life are considered.

What can I expect on my first visit to a Naturopathic Doctor?

Your first visit will be 1 hour-1 ½ hours. This visit is important to develop a real understanding of your health and medical concerns. There will be a discussion of any symptoms or conditions you are experiencing, as well as a detailed review of your past medical history, diet and lifestyle choices, and any medications or supplements you have or are currently taking.  It is important to have a thorough understanding of you as an individual so the root cause can be addressed. Naturopathic medicine is holistic and takes into consideration all aspects of a person’s life.  Diagnostic tests, such as blood work, and any necessary physical exam will be done to confirm a diagnosis. A treatment plan and explanation will be provided to you in detail. You will also have adequate time to ask any questions regarding your condition and treatment.

Regardless of age and health history, Naturopathic medicine is for anyone who want to take their health into their own hands. Naturopathic doctors are primary health providers and are qualified to see and treat everyone. It is also worth noting that many health care insurance providers cover the costs of seeing a Naturopathic doctor.