Naturopathy


What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the healing power of nature and it supports and stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, lifestyle counselling and health promotion and disease prevention.

How does naturopathic medicine compare to conventional medicine?

Both are doctors, both provide primary care and both are similarly trained. The primary differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) treat patients as individuals by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows naturopathic doctors to find and treat the cause of the disease using a variety of therapies. Conventional doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery.

The history of naturopathic medicine

Naturopathic medicine was introduced in North America in 1902 by Dr. Benedict Lust. By 1920, the naturopathic practice was well established in Canada. Laws regulating naturopathic practice were enacted in Ontario in 1925, British Columbia in 1936, Manitoba in 1943, and in Saskatchewan in 1952. The CAND has been representing the profession’s interests in Canada since 1955.

After the Second World War health care moved away from a more natural approach, focusing on the advances in surgical techniques, the introduction of antibiotics, and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. In the last twenty years, public desire for greater control in the healthcare process and growing dissatisfaction with high-tech solutions to health problems has resulted in a resurgent interest in the natural methods of preventive health care. This trend has increased demand for naturopathic services as people seek ways to improve their health, cope with day-to-day stresses and avoid illness.


Naturopathic medical education began in Canada in 1978 with the founding of the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (OCNM) in Toronto. In 1992, the College became the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). In 2000, the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine opened in British Columbia to provide further educational opportunities for students seeking training as naturopathic doctors.

Naturopathic medicine today

Today, more people than ever before are seeking and benefiting from naturopathic medical care and the number of naturopathic doctors is growing at record rates to accommodate this increased demand. Currently, there are naturopathic doctors practicing in every province and all but one territory in Canada. The more than 2,400 naturopathic doctors across the country continue to be an emerging answer to Canada’s health care concerns.

Naturopathic doctors are experiencing greater recognition as health care practitioners and as experts in the field of natural and preventive medicine. They provide leadership in natural medical research and are enjoy increasing politically activity at the federal, provincial and territorial levels. Positions for naturopathic doctors are opening up in hospitals, multi-disciplinary clinics and specialized health centres across Canada.

In Canada there are five provinces that have naturopathic regulations: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The Naturopathic Doctors Act of 2008 grants title protection for naturopathic doctors in the province of Nova Scotia. Almost of the other provinces and territories in which there are naturopathic doctors are also in the process of seeking regulation.

Currently, the naturopathic profession finds itself well positioned in health care. With more research emerging that supports the therapies used by naturopathic doctors, and the public demand for greater choice and increased access to more natural approaches to health care, naturopathic medicine is meeting the health needs of an ever increasing number of Canadians. Poised to make the transition from “alternative” medicine to “mainstream” medicine.