5 Myths About Naturopathic Doctors



1. NDs are uneducated

In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors are required to complete at least three years of an undergraduate degree, including courses in biomedical sciences. The specific naturopathic education consists of four years of intensive full-time studies. This includes medical training in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, physical examination, laboratory examination, and diagnostics. It also includes training in therapeutics, such as nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture and Traditional Asian Medicine, lifestyle medicine, manual therapies, pharmacology. The clinical training is composed of a full year internship working with patients in an out-patient setting, along with mandatory observational learning throughout the program.

2. NDs don’t believe in conventional medicine

NDs are not anti-conventional medicine. In my practice, I prefer my patients to continue to work and collaborate with their MDs, as this approach provides the most benefit to the patient. NDs are able to recognize serious conditions and emergencies and make appropriate referrals for medication, testing, imaging and surgery. I also spend much of my time educating patients on their medications, and encouraging them to take their medications properly. 

3. NDs lack adequate regulation

NDs have been regulated in Ontario since 1925. More recently, our regulation has moved under the same umbrella as other health care professions such as medical doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dentists and optometrists. In order to become a licensed ND, applicants must have completed their naturopathic education, pass two sets of rigorous board exams (8 exams over 4 days), and then pass the Ontario board exams. The College of Naturopaths of Ontario require NDs to acquire continuing education, and administer a quality control program for all registrants.

4. NDs make you spend lots of money on supplements

My goal as a ND is to balance your body’s physiology. In the short term, that may include supplements, but the majority of my treatment plans are based in nutrition and lifestyle changes that you can implement in your daily life at minimal cost to you. Most supplements that I prescribe are meant to be used short-term, to help restore your physiology.

5. NDs don’t follow science-based medicine

My practice follows an evidence-based model, which takes into account the current scientific evidence, the preference of my patients, and my clinical experience. There is, in fact, a lot of evidence supporting the use of diet and lifestyle medicine in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases. Not all of my treatments are evidence-based, but when these recommendations are made, I ensure that my patients are aware of this fact. It is important to be aware that conventional medicine is not always evidence-based either, and that just because we don’t know how something works, doesn’t mean that it can’t work. For example, after a heart attack, the use of cholesterol-lowing medications (statins) helps to reduce mortality, but it has nothing to do with the how much the patients’ cholesterol has been lowered. We still have no idea how acetaminophen reduces pain, even though we know that it works for some people!​