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Ask a Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor

You have questions, we have (some) answers. At West Vancouver Wellness Centre, we like to keep our patients up-to-speed on the latest topics and information affecting their health. Since this page pertains to the most common questions, please feel free to contact us if your particular question isn’t answered.

As the field of natural health is ever evolving and expanding, we also invite you to check out our blog, featuring important information for health-conscious consumers.

Frequent Asked Questions

What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is primary health care from a licensed naturopathic doctor, avoiding the use of drugs or surgery unless necessary. By definition, naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat the nature of the disease or the nature of the pathology. Naturopathic doctors work to uncover the source of the illness and treat both the symptoms and the cause. While naturopathic medicine does encompass many traditional treatments, including acupuncture and botanical or herbal medicine, naturopathic doctors are also highly trained in the most recent medical technology. Naturopathic doctors are trained as general practitioners in complementary medicine, providing a full range of diagnostic tests and therapies.


What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor and a medical doctor?

Both are doctors. Naturopathic doctors complete a minimum of three or four years of pre-medical university training and then have four years of training at an accredited naturopathic medical college. NDs must successfully complete provincial board exams prior to being granted licensure. NDs in BC are licensed and regulated by the College of Naturopathic Physicians.

Medical doctors use drugs and surgery to treat patients; naturopathic doctors use a multi-faceted, integrated approach to care for your health. Using the most advanced technology available for diagnoses and treatments, naturopathic doctors look at the patient’s health history and lifestyle and treat the individual using methods such as supplements, nutrition, acupuncture and other non-drug alternatives.

Medical doctors are reactive and treat the symptoms of the disease, which is already in place. The naturopathic doctor’s approach is proactive and works with you to make changes to your health and lifestyle, ensuring you are as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.


What are the types of treatments that a naturopathic doctor would use?

  • Preventative Medicine – a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s health risks including diet, exercise and stress. The doctor will then provide preventative health protocols for the patient to follow.

  • Nutritional Medicine – using dietary protocols, nutritional advice and supplements to heal and repair the body.

  • Botanical (Herbal) Medicine – NDs are professionally trained herbalists and know both the historical uses of plants as well as the modern pharmacological mechanisms.

  • Homeopathic Medicine – small amounts of natural substances are used to stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.

  • Manipulation and Physical Medicine – corrections of stress- or trauma-induced misalignments of muscle, connective tissue and the skeletal system. The therapeutic use of water, light electricity, ultrasound, massage and exercise.

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine – includes the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.


What conditions and illnesses do naturopathic doctors commonly treat?

Naturopathic doctors treat virtually all acute and chronic conditions. Many patients visit an ND when they feel they have exhausted their options. Most are extremely surprised (and grateful) to find that the ND can greatly relieve not only their symptoms but also help fix the cause of their health issues.

Many others see an ND as a proactive approach to their lives. These people are not suffering from chronic conditions, but want to optimize their health and wellness, as well as improve their lifestyle in a variety of ways.


What are the advantages to seeing a naturopathic doctor?

The goal of a naturopathic doctor is to understand the individual health needs of each patient. NDs take a more traditional approach and spend a great deal of time with each patient in order to understand each person and their specific health issues.

NDs look to the underlying cause of the condition, not just the symptoms, and use treatments that are defined by the individual and their health at that time. A naturopathic doctor will take more time with you, to do an initial assessment, which may include a full physical exam.


What can I expect on my first visit to a naturopathic doctor?
As naturopathic medicine treats the underlying cause of the disease, our naturopathic physicians will conduct a comprehensive visit. They will gain an understanding of where your health care issues are originating by gathering information on your health history and your family’s conditions. Your ND will be interested in your lifestyle, eating habits, exercise, stress and exposure to environmental toxins. In some cases, they may use a physical exam to help determine where the problems lie. This information will enable them to start you on the path to improved health and well-being.

How long will it take to complete a course of treatments?
The response to treatment varies with respect to the individual, their current health condition as well as individual rates of healing. From a clinical perspective, some people may only need just a few treatments while others may need 10 or more. The average number of treatments is four to six treatments.

Before utilizing this form of treatment, follow up with your naturopathic physician to best advise what treatments may be used in combination, such as acupuncture and ultrasound, to attain the best results.

Fees for Naturopathic Medicine
Good health is an investment. Invest now and it will pay an immediate return to your quality of life. When you consider how important it is to maintain your car, it’s considered smart to spend money on maintenance and upkeep. It lengthens the life of your car and keeps it running efficiently. You certainly do not want your car to break down going up a steep hill. If you would do that for your car, wouldn’t you do it for yourself?

You are worth it. Give it a few months and you will be amazed at the return on your investment.

The services of a naturopathic doctor are usually covered by extended health care. A detailed bill will be produced so you may be reimbursed for the amount that your insurance provider offers.

Unfortunately, provincial subsidies for naturopathic medicine were cut by the Liberal government on January 1, 2002. At present, there is no MSP coverage available for visits to an ND unless you are on premium assistance.


Is naturopathic medicine covered under MSP or extended health care plans?
Many extended health care plans cover naturopathic medicine visits and may reimburse you a percentage of your visit, laboratory tests and treatment fees. MSP may partially cover the cost of your naturopathic medicine visit if you qualify for premium assistance under the medical services plan of BC.


What are the principles of naturopathic medicine?

  • First, do no harm (primum no nocere). Use methods and medicines that do not cause adverse reactions using treatments that will enable proper care and prevention.

  • Cooperate with the healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae). Naturopathic medicine creates treatment programs that enable the body to heal itself through support and functional treatment.

  • Identify the fundamental cause (tolle causam). The naturopathic doctor seeks to address the underlying causes of disease, rather than suppress the symptoms.

  • Heal the whole person through individual treatment (tolle tottum). Naturopathic doctors treat each patient individually and take into consideration physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors that may attribute to one's health.

  • Teach principles of healthy living and preventative medicine (docere). “Doctora” means teaching. It enables the naturopathic doctor to share information and knowledge with their patients to promote self-responsibility for health care.


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