Frequently Asked Questions
How can you decide whether to add a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) to your healthcare team?
It all comes down to making an informed choice. There is a lot of information out there and you want to make the best investment for your current and long term health.
Below, you will find the answers to some questions I get asked frequently. I hope they will help answer your questions too.
1) What is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor?
A naturopathic doctor is a licensed healthcare practitioner regulated by a professional provincial and national board that holds us accountable for our training, charting, and continuing education.
An ND is an expert in natural medicine with 8 years of training to gain licensure. Four years of undergraduate training including the prerequisite medical sciences (organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, etc.) to gain a bachelor degree.
Then, a four year degree in naturopathic medicine from an accredited institution (the only two accredited schools in Canada are the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine; none of the schooling can be completed online or correspondence) including one year of clinical training seeing patients under the supervision of experienced and licensed NDs. Then two national board exams and several provincial licensing examinations.
And after that, the education never stops as continuing education is required to maintain licensing.
We are a science based profession. Learning anatomy, physiology, immunology, pharmacology, pathology, etc. allows us to interact with all healthcare professionals and the scientific community. We use science and scientific research to make research informed treatments. Where research is lacking, strong historical evidence is necessary.
Our training focuses on treating using natural therapies, nutrition, and lifestyle rather than pharmaceutical medications and surgery. NDs take a long term view and focus on preventative medicine.
We can run lab work to help diagnose medical conditions.
We work to help you achieve optimal health, reduce your risk for genetic conditions, manage chronic health complaints, and prevent illness.
2) What conditions does an ND treat?
We treat acute and chronic, non-emergent health complaints/conditions. From the common cold to high blood pressure to depression to diabetes to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome. The list is endless. Sometimes, there is no known diagnosis. But there is a cause. And we work to find it and treat it.
If we cannot treat your specific health complaint, we will also let you know.
3) What will appointments be like with an ND?
Your first appointment:
Before your first appointment, you will have to answer to a detailed questionnaire about your current health situation.
Then, typically, I spend 1-1.5 hours getting to know you and your health history. I also spend time explaining what is happening in your body so that you can understand how to begin the healing process and why I am choosing the treatments that I prescribe for you specifically.
There are many factors that affect your health. We will discuss your health concerns, your history, and your family medical history but I will also ask questions about your medications, your environment, your support systems, your diet, and your lifestyle.
Before creating a treatment plan, I will explain any necessary testing that must be done to determine more clearly what exactly is going on inside your body.
Your health goals will also help me to create a treatment plan that is most appropriate to your individual needs.
Follow-up appointments are an opportunity to discuss your progress. I monitor improvement and make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed. We also discuss lab work and test results and incorporate this information into the plan.
I also keep very close track of any improvements, changes, side effects, etc. in order to improve my clinical skills as well as to be able to assess scientific clinical viability of treatments. There is no end to education and scientific improvement and no treatment is so perfect that it be used for every individual. Research and analysis will help me and my colleagues improve medical care.
4) Are the costs of appointments, treatments, prescriptions covered by provincial health or by insurance?
ND services and treatments are not covered by provincial healthcare. However, since ND services are GST free and most insurance/extended benefit plans cover Naturopathic services the barriers to seeing an ND are minimized. Check your individual insurance plan!
5) What about my medical doctor?
A Naturopathic Doctor is part of your healthcare team. Having a medical doctor is always recommended regardless of the other specialists you choose to work with. We all work better as a team!
In Manitoba, an ND is NOT allowed to prescribe pharmaceutical medications (although in BC and some states we do have prescription rights). As such, I will NOT make changes to your prescriptions. If adjustments need to be made, I will refer you back to your medical doctor or specialist to discuss this or contact your medical doctor directly. After all, we all have our specialities!
If your MD has run testing or lab work, I need to see the results to accurately rule in or rule out specific diagnoses. Even if everything is normal, I need to see this objective information to support the reasons why I have made the decisions I have in your treatment and care.
I work together with you and your medical doctor to see these results. If there are other tests that need to be performed, I can requisition bloodwork (not covered by insurance).
6) Do you make referrals to specialists?
Occasionally, you may need further assessment and care from a specialist. I cannot make referrals to medical specialists (with a few exceptions). However, if I feel you need specialist care, I will make you aware of this and refer you back to your MD. I DO make referrals to numerous chiropractors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, etc. if you require their expert care.
7) How should I prepare for my first visit? What should I bring to my appointment?
If possible, please bring in any medications and supplements you are taking. Also, think about your family medical history or ask parents/grandparents about their health so I can evaluate health risks and identify genetic susceptibilities.
Please arrive a few minutes early so that you can fill out the required paperwork prior to your appointment time.
Also, if you have copies of your lab results from other healthcare practitioners (I always advise people to keep track of their own health records by keeping copies of test results), please bring them to the initial appointment as this helps me to make a more informed diagnosis.
Please refrain from wearing perfumes/cologne as many of my patients have chemical allergies or sensitivities that would be aggravated by these scents.
8) I’m afraid that the changes/treatments my ND will recommend will be too difficult for me to do with my schedule/will-power/fatigue level/family/finances.
Your health is worth investing in.
Sometimes those investments are financial and other times they require time and energy. Occasionally, both are required. Rest assured you do not have to make any changes you are not ready to undertake. Your life and time and money are yours to spend how you want.
I recommend treatments and diet and lifestyle modifications on a regular basis that are based on treating the cause of illness and getting you to a place of good health as quickly as possible. However, I also base my prescriptions on your health goals and your lifestyle constraints.
I want you to get better quickly but I also want you to be able to make sustainable, long term changes to maintain optimal health and prevent future illness. Please let me know if you feel overwhelmed.
Another important point on this topic is that I have experience with the prescriptions I recommend. I’ve tried the diets. I’ve run out of time to make sleep, food prep, or exercise a priority.
I’ve been drop dead tired, ready to cry, and struggling with the black hole of depression while just wanting to eat a burger and fries from the closest fast food chain. I’ve had to budget my finances at the grocery store and at appointments. I don’t have insurance benefits. These things I’ve been through are not identical to your situation, but they help me understand you better when you explain your constraints.
Let’s work together on the challenges. Because the investment is worth it.
If you have any additional questions, I will be happy to answer. You can contact me here.