Naturopathic doctors practice as primary care providers with an emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. They are guided by six fundamental healing principles:
- First, to do no harm, by using methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
- To treat the causes of disease, by identifying and removing the underlying causes of illness, rather than suppressing symptoms.
- To heal the whole person through individualized treatment, by understanding the unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors that contribute to illness, and customizing treatment protocols to the patient.
- To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine, by sharing knowledge with patients and encouraging individual responsibility for health.
- To emphasize prevention, by partnering with the patient to assess risk factors and recommend appropriate naturopathic interventions to maintain health and prevent illness.
- To support the healing power of the body, by recognizing and removing obstacles to the body’s inherent self-healing process.
Naturopathic doctors obtain comprehensive training in a structure similar to medical doctors and have a minimum of 7 years of post-secondary education. They first obtain an undergraduate university degree and then study 4 years of naturopathic medicine at an accredited college. In Canada there are two accredited programs; Toronto has The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and Vancouver has The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic doctors then must successfully pass 2 phases of Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), a standardized examination used by all regulated provinces and states across North America.
Naturopathic Doctors are the only regulated health professionals in the field of natural medicine in Ontario. Naturopathic Doctors are regulated in Ontario under the 1925 Drugless Therapy Act and are registered (licensed) by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N). The BDDT-N functions to ensure that Naturopathic Doctors are properly qualified to practice Naturopathic Medicine and that they follow the appropriate standards of practice.
Ontario’s new Naturopathy Act received final approval in June 2007 and will come into full effect following an extensive transition process. The Naturopathy Act will move the regulation of Naturopathic Doctors under the Regulated Health Professions Act, joining all other regulated health professions. The Naturopathy Act also confirms the current scope of NDs as primary care practitioners who are able to provide diagnoses and have access to key controlled acts.