What is Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a form of primary health care that aims to treat the whole person. Rather than simply treating symptoms, the goal is to determine and treat the underlying causes of health concerns with a focus on long term results and prevention.

A typical initial visit with a Naturopathic Doctor is around 1-1.5 hours. During this session a full health history is completed, which is focused around your chief concerns and symptoms. This may include questions relating to past medical diagnoses, family history, current medications and supplements, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, emotional wellbeing, gastrointestinal function, hormonal symptoms, etc.  A full physical exam may also be indicated.  Based on the information gathered, the naturopathic doctor will provide potential diagnoses and underlying reasons as to why you may be experiencing certain symptoms. He/she may want to do additional testing such as blood work to support their assessment.  Additionally, you will be provided with a treatment plan that is specific to your health concerns.

What sort of treatments do Naturopathic Doctors use?

Naturopathic Doctors use a variety of therapies such as nutrition, supplements, botanical medicine, acupuncture, lifestyle recommendations, naturopathic manipulations (adjustments), homeopathy, hydrotherapy and lifestyle counselling. Additional training can be completed to gain access to therapies such as vitamin injections, IV therapy, cosmetic facial acupuncture and the ability to prescribe certain medications and high dose vitamins.

Every individual case is unique, and therefore two patients with the same diagnosis may receive vastly different treatment plans.

What is the difference between naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine?

Both have very similar training and are primary care doctors. However, they take different approaches to treatment. Conventional doctors often provide fast results and are generally treating symptoms through pharmaceuticals or advances therapies such as surgery. Naturopathic doctors have the ability to spend much longer with each patient, and therefore are able to focus on long term goals, prevention and treating all aspects of a patient’s health. Both forms of medicine bring great value to our healthcare system. You do not need to choose one or the other. The best healthcare is patient-centered care, and this comes from a blend of both conventional and naturopathic approaches.

What education and training is required to become a Naturopathic Doctor?

Like a medical doctor, a naturopathic doctor completes a 4-year undergraduate degree and a 4-year postgraduate degree at an accredited naturopathic college, for a total of 8 years of education. During the final year of naturopathic medical school, students undergo a clinical internship where they treat patients for the full year under the license of a Naturopathic Doctor. This is similar to a residency in medical school. Upon graduation, two sets of licensing exams must be completed (NPLEX) and in British Columbia there is an oral/practical board exam.

In British Columbia, only registrants of the College of Physicians of British Columbia are able to use the title of Naturopathic Doctor.

What kind of conditions can a Naturopathic Doctor treat?

 Naturopathic medicine can treat a variety of health concerns.  Below are some examples of conditions treated:

           Acne and skin conditions

·         Anxiety

·         Arthritis

·         Asthma

·         Autoimmune disease

·         Cardiovascular disease

·         Cancer support and prevention

·         Chronic Fatigue

·         Chronic pain

·         Dementia and cognitive decline

·         Depression

·         Diabetes and insulin resistance

·         Digestive concerns

·         Eczema

·         Endometriosis

·         Fibromyalgia

·         Headaches

·         Hypothyroidism


·         Hypertension

·         Infertility

·         Infections

·         Insomnia

·         Irregular periods

·         Kidney disease

·         Menopause

·         Mental health

·         Musculoskeletal concerns

·         Osteoporosis

·         PCOS

·         Pediatrics

·         Premenstrual syndrome

·         Prenatal and postnatal support

·         Urinary tract infections

·         Weight Loss

What is the cost of a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor?

In British Columbia, a 1-hour visit with a Naturopathic Doctor is around $165 on average. Unlike conventional medicine, naturopathic medicine is not fully covered under our government health plans. However, in British Columbia the Medical Services Plan covers $23/visit for 10 visits per year. Additionally, most extended health insurance plans provide coverage for naturopathic visits.

If you have any questions related to naturopathic medicine or would like to know if it may be beneficial for you, please feel free to reach out!