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A Complete Guide to Naturopaths: Benefits & Limitations

By: Vanessa Share

Naturopathic doctors have the same basic science training as medical doctors and go to a four-year naturopathic medical school. They use a holistic approach to healing and use things like herbs, nutrition, and other treatment options like massage and acupuncture, in addition to more conventional treatment options like pharmaceuticals. Where an allopathic doctor might just prescribe medication as a first option, a naturopath will focus on treating the cause rather than the symptom. So what can a naturopath do for you? Read on to find out.

Changes

Recent changes in British Columbia and Ontario mean naturopathic doctors can now offer more options to patients. Under the new Naturopathy Act, under the Regulated Health Professions Act, naturopaths have more prescription rights and can order lab work.  This means patients can go and get things like antibiotics prescribed for illnesses like strep throat.

Naturopathic vs Conventional Medicine

A naturopath might diagnose and treat you for a variety of conditions ranging from colds to cancer, high blood pressure, insomnia, and even sprains. While conventional doctors tend to treat the symptom, a naturopath will look for other solutions first, like lifestyle changes, exercise, diet, and natural treatments. He or she will spend time getting to know you and can help you lay out a plan to best reach your goals. If you'd like to visit a naturopath, Dr. Sean Ceaser is a Winnipeg naturopath that may be able to provide you with more info and insights.

Hormones

A problem like hormones that are out of whack, for example, might not have a lot of solutions in the world of conventional medicine. Birth control pills are pretty much the only option. Naturopaths, however, can bring your hormones back where they should by using herbs that improve the connection between the brain and ovaries.

Depression and Anxiety

A visit to your family doctor for depression or anxiety will probably get you a prescription for medications and/or a referral to a psychiatrist. Should you go to a naturopath, though, he or she will work with you to find out the underlying cause of your trouble. Naturopaths get a lot of training in counselling, and can help you to change your lifestyle to reduce stress. They can also prescribe herbs that will help your body manage stress better. You will probably get recommendations for diet and exercise, too.

Heartburn

If you frequently suffer from acid reflux, you have more options than conventional antacids. A better solution is to modify your diet and lifestyle, and take certain herbs, to obtain relief. There are several natural treatments that will soothe the lining of your stomach and esophagus. Most patients will experience complete relief from heartburn when they follow the advice from their naturopath.

Cancer

Naturopaths can help to minimize the effects that chemo have on your body, and can help you strengthen your body so that you have fewer complications during chemo treatment.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders happen when your immune system goes nuts and attacks your body’s healthy cells. This results in conditions ranging from lupus to celiac disease to rheumatoid arthritis. Conventional doctors typically prescribe drugs like steroids whereas naturopaths look at your lifestyle to see where you can make changes. To learn more about auto immune diseases, you can read about the causes and symptoms at the Healthline website.

Limitations

While the new regulations give naturopathic doctors more treatment options, there are still some occasions when you might need to see a conventional doctor, like for a broken bone or surgery. If you visit a naturopath and your condition requires diagnostics or treatment he or she cannot offer, your naturopath will give you a referral.