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  • Dr. Melyssa Hoitink, ND

Busting Myths about Naturopathic Medicine

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

May 13-19th is Naturopathic Medicine Week 2019!

In honour of #NatMedWeek, I'll be busting 7 myths about naturopathic medicine.

Myth 1: If its natural, it must be safe.

Just because something is natural, it does not necessarily mean it is safe. Although research shows that natural treatments generally have a good safety record, there are many natural things that are dangerous. Natural health products come with potential side effects and drug interactions. Some natural substances can also be toxic at high doses. It is important to consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor before beginning a new natural health product to ensure what you are taking is indicated for your concerns and safe for you as an individual. Naturopathic doctors are trained to ensure your supplements don’t interact with your medications or negatively impact any medical conditions you may have.

Myth 2: Naturopathic doctors are not trained as medical care providers.

Regulated naturopathic doctors are in fact trained as primary care doctors in North America and can manage most concerns typically seen in primary care medical practices. This includes a wide array of acute and chronic medical concerns such as pain management, fatigue, infections (common cold and flu, urinary tract infections, etc), digestive conditions, and mental health to name a few.

Before becoming a naturopathic doctor, an undergraduate degree followed by an intense 4-year medical program, including a year long internship, must be completed. To become board certified, a potential ND must then complete a series of rigorous testing and continuing education. Make sure your naturopathic doctor is licensed by checking the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) website (http://www.collegeofnaturopaths.on.ca/).

Myth 3: You must choose a Medical Doctor (MD) or Naturopathic Doctor (ND), but you cannot see both.

You will actually receive better care with both a medical doctor and a naturopathic doctor on your health care team. Studies have shown that when naturopathic medicine is combined with conventional care, patients have improved health outcomes.

Naturopathic doctors fill in the gaps in the health care system, use a unique set of tools, and have time to educate patients about:

  • Diet – Optimal diet for your health goals and correcting nutrient deficiencies.

  • Lifestyle - Stress management, sleep, physical activity, smoking cessation, etc.

  • Natural treatment options – botanical (plant) medicine, nutritional supplementation, Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture.

  • Physiology of health and disease - What's normal and what is going on in your body when you are experiencing symptoms.

This education helps you to learn about your health and body, and empowers you to make changes to prevent future health issues.

Myth 4: Only wealthy people see Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) While naturopathic medicine often comes with a cost, this is similar to saying that only wealthy people drive cars. Would you let your car go without maintenance for years and years? Likely not, or you would end up spending more on repairs or replacing the car.

Just like you invest into your car maintenance, you must also invest in your health now to save in the future. When viewed long term, the savings and improvements in quality of life from disease prevention and overall health optimization is worth the up-front investment for many people who value their health. When working with patients, I create a plan that will work for them, including their financial situation.

There is growing extended health insurance coverage for naturopathic services making it more accessible. Check with your insurance provider or the terms health spending account. At Beach Chiropractic & Wellness Centre, we do direct billing to most insurance providers, further reducing the upfront cost of getting care. We also have the Walk-in Naturopathic Clinic, which allows more people to access affordable care. For more information, check out: https://www.drmelyssa.com/walk-in-naturopathic-clinic

Myth 5: Naturopathic doctors are against prescription and over the counter drugs.

Many of the patients we see are taking pharmaceutical medications. Our training includes the study of pharmaceuticals, including their mechanism of action, biochemistry, indications, and adverse effects. We are familiar with interactions between drugs and natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors always aim to provide safe and effective medical advice, whether patients are taking prescription medications or not. We start with where you’re at and bring you closer to your individual health goals, whatever they may be.

Myth 6: Naturopathic medicine is not evidence-based or scientific.

Naturopathic doctors are trained to critically analyze research. There is a growing body of scientific research on natural therapies, with new research published every day. There are 3 prongs to evidence-based medicine which includes patient values, best evidence, and clinical expertise. I utilize a fine balance between all three of these factors, to create a treatment plan that is individualized to you.

Myth 7: Naturopathic doctors give the same recommendations as health food store employees.

Although health food store employees mean well by giving you advice on what supplements to take, they are often not trained in medicine or natural therapies to the extent that naturopathic doctors are. They also do not know about your medical history or about medications you are on that may interact with natural medicines. It is always best to get medical advice from someone adequately trained, licensed, and who knows your medical history to ensure the advice is safe for YOU.

Wondering what naturopathic medicine can do for you? Click here to schedule your Complementary Discovery Session.

Have other questions? Head on over to the Contact page and send me a message. I would love to hear from you!


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