Naturopathic Doctor or a Medical Doctor?

When it comes to your health, it’s important to make sure you’re seeing the right kind of doctor. So should you try naturopathic medicine  instead of a medical doctor? Here’s what you need to know.

When people are first introduced to me, I am often asked if seeing me will replace their medical doctor.

A medical doctor’s job is primarily to fix. The medical doctor works within a system designed, above all, to triage and treat symptoms and sicknesses.

Medical doctors trained in a specialty will treat a symptom or sickness depending on their specialty’s training. That means the treatment occurs in isolation—your treatment for the most part, begins and ends with the symptom or sickness treatment.

Once a year you have your annual medical doctor appointment and you discover your cholesterol is high. Most people will leave that appointment with a prescription to help lower their cholesterol with a pharmaceutical medication.

And this is better than not addressing it at all. In an ideal situation, the time would be taken to understand the root cause of the issue and try to fix it from there.

This is a huge challenge for medical doctors working within the government health care system. They do not have the time and are doing what they can within the constraints they are working in.

Meanwhile, a naturopathic doctor’s job is primarily to care, support and optimize your health. The naturopathic doctor addresses your overall wellness. The benefit is that we look at your health through a wellness lens, helping you answer: How can I feel my best?

If someone is getting sick a lot. Naturopathically, we are interested in understanding all contributing factors to catching the cold. We ask: How often does the person get sick in a year? If frequently, we would want to build up their immune resistance. We would also address any digestive health concerns, which often correspond with a cold or flu, as well as adrenal health, which correspond to stress, sleep, hormone balance, and more.

Nutrition (including micronutrient status) and lifestyle are likewise key in any naturopathic consultation, even if you “just have a cold.”  At our clinic we would also discuss how IV drip therapy could help as well.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians notes, “Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them.”

The good news is we don’t have to pick one or the other!

Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine are complementary, not mutually exclusive. They are both primary care providers. They both rely on the same science, research, and evidence-based foundation to medicine. The advantage comes from not choosing one or the other, but from having both options to support our wellness.

One of the draw backs that keep more people from seeing a naturopathic doctor is that it’s not covered by government health plans like OHIP in Ontario.

People going to a naturopathic clinic are often paying out of pocket. Fortunately, more and more insurance companies have naturopathic medicine as part of their coverage. Depending on your plan that amount can range from $500 to $2500 a year.

You would also want to check with your accountant as in some cases you can deduct health related expenses from your income tax.

What I like best about being a naturopathic doctor is that I get to really connect with my patients, spending the time needed to understand all aspects of their wellness—their main health concerns, past experiences, and overall life goals, as applied to their health.

An initial consultation lasts approximately 90 minutes, and forms the foundation of our work together. It is a health discovery session where we fully investigate all aspects of his or her health, lifestyle, and medical and family history. It’s important to investigate and understand all health concerns rather than look at them in isolation.

If you’re looking for a doctor that can help you fix an immediate issue, a medical doctor is probably your best bet. However, if you’re interested in working with someone who can care for and support your overall health, naturopathic medicine may be the right choice for you.

If you want to work with a Naturopathic doctor and cannot pay of pocket,  be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if they are accepted.

You can also book a free call with one of our team to find out more about how we can help you achieve optimal health.