Naturopathic Medicine
(including Acupuncture and Manual Therapy)

Your First Visit

The first appointment with a naturopathic doctor is between one-and-a-half and two hours. Subsequent appointments will be from 30 to 45 minutes in length depending on your specific health concerns and the naturopathic doctor you are working with. Typically during the initial visits your naturopathic doctor will take a detailed history of your current and past health concerns, conduct a physical exam and order laboratory tests to make an assessment and diagnosis. With the patient’s input, a personalized treatment plan will be proposed to help facilitate achieving his or her health goals.

Diagnostics and examinations

The foundation of naturopathic diagnosis is an extensive patient history, physical examination, review of medications, and evaluation of appropriate laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging. Naturopathic doctors use the conventional medical diagnostic framework, but are also trained in Chinese medical diagnostic skills and spend time looking for contributing factors in patient’s lifestyle, habits, attitudes and constitution.

Acupuncture Treatment

During an acupuncture treatment, your acupuncturist inserts very thin needles into specific spots on your body. Insertion of the needles usually causes little discomfort.

Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner may ask you about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. He or she may also closely examine:

  • The parts of your body that are painful

  • The shape, coating and color of your tongue
  • The color of your face
  • The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist

Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of the body. Sometimes the appropriate points are far removed from the area of your pain. Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general site of the planned treatment and whether you need to remove any clothing. A gown, towel or sheet will be provided. You lie on a padded table for the treatment, which involves:

  • Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at strategic points on your body. The needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes little discomfort. People often don't feel them inserted at all. A typical treatment uses 5 to 20 needles. You may feel a mild aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.
  • Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
  • Needle removal. In most cases, the needles remain in place for 10 to 15 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed.

Some people feel relaxed and others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. But not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don't begin to improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be right for you.

Heath Insurance Coverage

Most extended health insurance plans in Canada cover naturopathic treatments. Insured patients are encouraged to contact their employer or individual insurance brokers to determine if they are covered and/or to request that their policy be extended to include naturopathic services if it does not already do so. Since naturopathic doctors use alternatives to costly techniques and drug therapies, more insurance companies are expanding coverage of this cost-effective treatment method. Naturopathic medicine is currently not covered by any of the provincial health plans.

Acupuncture and manual therapies performed by a naturopathic doctor are billed as Naturopathic Services under your extended health care coverage.