While North America is considered the home of modern naturopathy, its origins date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. It's known to have developed modern-day health treatments like hydrotherapy and herbal medicine, but that's not where its uses stop.
Many healthcare facilities have a naturopath on-site that works with other practitioners to create comprehensive treatment plans for patients with all kinds of ailments.
So, how can you know whether or not you need a naturopath? What exactly can they help you with? We're here to tell you all about it.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about naturopathic methods.
What Is a Naturopath?
Before we can discuss methods and different treatments, it's best to know what a naturopath is. Naturopathic doctors and practitioners are trained at accredited naturopathic medical colleges around the country.
Some "traditional" naturopathic doctors don't receive any kind of formal education, however, while some licensed medical doctors utilize naturopathy alongside their medical treatments.
Which you encounter is going to vary widely, as is the treatment methods they'll offer, but they all set out with the same goal in mind — to help you heal.
What Does a Naturopath Do?
Naturopaths specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and even treating acute and chronic illness, and in helping patients reestablish their optimal health by focusing on natural healing rather than forcing the process along.
Difference Between a Naturopathic Doctor and a Medical Doctor
There are a lot of differences between naturopathic doctors (ND) and medical doctors (MD). What an ND can treat is going to vary a lot by location (and the regulations they have to follow), but they're typically going to be trained as general practitioners.
NDs can usually treat acute illnesses like coughs, colds, stomach bugs, and even the flu. MDs, however, are usually trained in a specific field, and they use other methods of treatment to target a specific condition. NDs take a holistic approach and work towards self-healing rather than focusing on one issue at a time.
This could look like being treated for a cold or some other illness, and then looking at other measures you can take to prevent it from coming back.
Who Can a Naturopathic Practitioner Help?
Naturopaths can help a lot of people suffering from more than acute conditions, though. Here are a few examples:
- Digestive issues
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue
If you suffer from or deal with any ailments like this, turning to an ND might be able to help a lot more than you've ever considered.
What Can a Naturopath Help With?
While visiting your regular healthcare practitioner can help with preventative measures, visiting a naturopath can achieve many of the same goals.
We talked about taking a holistic approach to healing already, and a lot of what naturopathic doctors can help treat stems from things like stress and poor mental health. So, if you're facing something like a hormonal imbalance or headaches, for example, then your ND is going to focus on treating that specific ailment, but they might also look into ways to keep it all from coming back.
Often, your doctor will have you get bloodwork done, and they'll go over the results with you. In some areas, you can also take those results to an ND and have them analyze the results. Both your MD and your ND, in this scenario, can work together to help you create a plan to help you stay your healthiest.
In other areas, an ND can also order bloodwork and other labs during your visit and then come up with their own treatment plan.
A common practice for naturopathy is to focus on the underlying cause of a condition rather than only the condition itself. This means treating health challenges while also providing clear strategies for patients to improve their future by minimizing illness rather than waiting for things to pop up.
The treatment you're likely to receive during this method of treatment is going to work with your body and its natural healing strategies rather than against it. When you target only one thing in the body, it often leads to other symptoms and can cause even more problems down the road.
Helps with Various Health Conditions
Along with prevention, naturopathy may also assist with other prevalent health problems like the ones we talked about earlier, and even things like cardiovascular health and immune system improvement.
They use non-invasive and natural treatments, like dietary and lifestyle changes, treating emotional and psychological stressors, and even sleep patterns. Your practitioner might give you vitamins or supplements, but they're not like the ones you'd find in the grocery store. Similar to medications and pain killers that MDs prescribe, only NDs can give certain supplements with more powerful natural ingredients then you'd find on the open market.
What an ND gives you is also going to be of the highest quality, and it's going to be able to do more for your body over time.
What Happens During a Naturopathy Session?
What happens during your regular naturopathy sessions is going to vary depending on the service, but your first appointment is going to look largely the same. Here are some things you can expect.
During your first visit, your ND will take a look at your past medical history, discuss any symptoms you might be experiencing, perform a physical exam, and then provide any education you might need. This might also be the appointment where your ND proposes a course treatment if you have something going on.
What your diagnostic exam consists of largely depends on your reason for visiting, but it's typically going to include everything we just talked about, plus anything else your ND would like to examine.
If necessary, they might also refer you to another physician, call in for labs, or other tests.
After your diagnostic examination, your ND is going to create a treatment plan. In some cases, you might leave with a plan after your first appointment, but it's going to depend on whether or not your ND needs to order further testing.
NDs utilize a lot of different methods when it comes to treatment. Everything from herbs, acupuncture, and massage, to nutritional counselling, exercise, and other holistic practices as they're needed.
Whatever treatment you undergo, it's going to place a large focus on education and prevention.
How Often Should You See a Naturopath?
In short, how often you see a naturopath is going to spend on why you're going, and what your course of treatment ends up being. This means that how often you go is limited to the plan they create for you. It could be as often as once a week or as little as every few months.
They'll also take your insurance into account if you're covered, or your budget if you have one.
What Is the Success Rate for Naturopaths?
A study found that a great majority (74 percent) of NDs find their work to be satisfying or very satisfying. That same study found that 77 percent of professionals actually feel overall success in their careers.
Here are a few of the primary reasons people cited for feeling deep satisfaction in their careers:
- Working directly with patients
- Aligning their career with personal philosophies or ethics
- Achieving financial success and professional growth
As a whole, NDs who attend college actually end up using their degree. More than 9 out of every 10 doctors are using their naturopathic degrees, and they're doing so in a variety of different positions.
Those with a naturopathic degree are not just limited to becoming doctors, though. Some can pursue careers in public speaking, as writers, administrators, and even health or wellness consultants.
What Are the Risks of Naturopathic Therapy?
While naturopathic treatment might not come with as many side effects, there are definitely things you have to be on the lookout for.
If you're taking vitamins or supplements, it's important to ensure they're not interfering with certain medications or prescriptions you're on. If your ND asks about these, it's important to disclose every kind of medicine you take.
It's also important to stick with their recommended dosage and report any adverse side effects you might experience. In large doses, some vitamins aren't good for your system and can have negative side effects.
The same goes for detox dieting — especially if you experience things like chronic pain or illness like diabetes. If you're on a certain detox diet for too long, you're going to run the risk of losing essential nutrients, and that risk is even higher when paired with certain chronic diseases.
Your ND doesn't want you to be unhealthy, but sometimes detoxing from certain things is necessary for your system to recharge and refresh itself. Just pay attention to how your body reacts and let your doctor know if you feel bad.
Spinal adjustments are another common service you might receive while visiting an ND. Arguably, spinal adjustments can be dangerous for anyone who has one done. It can cause damage to arteries, nerves, bones, and even your spinal discs, but if the adjustment is being done by a trained professional, then you have nothing to worry about.
Where Do Naturopaths Work?
Due to the nature of their practice, naturopaths typically work in an integrated healthcare setting. Integrated healthcare can happen in many places, like:
- Health clinics
- Medical schools
It's also sometimes referred to as interprofessional healthcare and is characterized by a high level of collaboration and communication between professionals.
How Much Do Naturopaths Cost in Canada?
If you're interested in booking an appointment with a naturopathic doctor, you might be curious about what you'll pay out-of-pocket. The answer: it depends on the appointment you're booking.
An initial visit — whether it's done online or in-person — can run anywhere from $115 to $240, and it can last anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes. Your second visit, and any subsequent visits after that, aren't likely to last as long or cost as much.
They'll last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes and cost you somewhere between $45 to $200. What you pay might also be affected by your insurance premium if your visit is covered, but even that's going to vary widely.
There are five provinces that regulate naturopathic doctors: British Columbia (BC), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.
The BC Naturopathic Association has created fee guidelines for naturopathic practices, but it's meant to act only as a guideline. Members of the association can still charge whatever they deem appropriate. It's important to note that the BCNA references the government, extended health insurers, and others as a guideline when creating these guidelines.
If the practice you're visiting charges outside the 10 percent range, then you're likely not going to be reimbursed.
Do Provincial Plans Cover the Cost of a Naturopath?
Naturopathic visits are not currently covered by provincial healthcare insurance, but most extended care plans or employer insurance plans do cover naturopathic visits.
Remember, though, your plan might not cover all of your visits. You are, however, likely to have at least a portion covered.
Final Thoughts on Naturopathy
Now that you know a bit more about naturopathy and what it can help you achieve, are you ready to visit a naturopath yourself? At Insurdinary, we offer coverage for naturopaths, meaning you'll gain access to different practitioners across Canada. We're here to help you find the perfect practitioner at a price that fits within your budget.
If you'd like to jump straight to the quoting process, do reach out to us today. One of our licensed agents is looking forward to working with you.
Insurdinary provides these articles for educational purposes only. Please take a moment to read our disclaimer.