If you have suffered from chronic pain before, you will agree that the path back to health is often punctuated by struggle.
How to remove or shorten that struggle is the subject of many studies, which sadly have not found consensus. This is because the way we respond to treatment differs from person to person.
It is also the reason why people are now experimenting with alternative forms of treatment and disease prevention, and why you’ve decided to look up ‘naturopath Toronto’ today.
We will talk about where to find a naturopath in Toronto later in the article. Before that, let’s answer the most frequently asked questions about naturopathic medicine.
We will start with the most basic of the FAQs:
What Exactly Does A Naturopath Do?
A naturopath is a doctor who uses holistic methods and natural therapies to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases.
Just like your regular GP, a naturopath can order diagnostic tests, prescribe medication (even prescription drugs), and perform minor surgery. What separates them from conventional doctors is their philosophical approach to primary health care and the therapies they use.
Generally, naturopathic doctors work to address the underlying causes of diseases. They focus on healing the person as a whole instead of isolating an organ of a body part.
NDs also place much importance on educating people on the principles of healthy living as a way of preventing diseases. In other words, by removing obstacles to health, you stay healthy.
Naturopathy advocates eschew surgery and other invasive forms of treatment. Instead, they urge naturally occurring botanical medicines, physical exercise, stress management, and other interventions that enable the body to heal itself.
Naturopathic physicians contend their multi-modal approach to primary health care is the most sustainable because it gives room for more natural treatments. This approach gets further credence from the generally accepted view that the body has an inane ability to self-heal.
Firmly consigned in the ‘prevention is better than cure’ camp, naturopaths choose the following as viable disease interventions:
- Focus on natural products and mind-body techniques,
- Detailed nutritional counseling,
- Heavy prescription of physical activity,
- Stress management.
According to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), to practice in Toronto, a naturopath must complete a minimum of 7 years of post-secondary education. These must include four years of specialist training at a naturopathy college. They will also have to pass comprehensive licensing tests.
Could Naturopathy Really Be The Answer To Sustainable Health?
That naturopathy is a sustainable form of treatment and healthy living isn’t a point of much disagreement. What has torched debate is the question of whether it can replace conventional medicine.
The correct assessment is that naturopathy focuses on a paradigm shift to wellness and favors a multi-modal approach whose effectiveness for individual conditions is difficult to test with randomized control trials that evidence-based medicine insists on.
Again, naturopathy can work side by side with conventional medicine and doesn’t need to replace it. That said, where pharmaceutical drugs have proven ineffective, patients often turn to naturopathy.
What Is A Naturopath Good For?
A ground-breaking study by researchers at Southern Cross University accessed the clinical benefits of naturopathy and found evidence proving its effectiveness in treating a variety of complex chronic diseases.
The conditions the study found naturopathic medicine to be effective for include:
- cardiovascular disease,
- musculoskeletal pain,
- type 2 diabetes,
- polycystic ovary syndrome,
- Depression and anxiety
Physiotherapists have noted that naturopathy can help with faster healing from accident injuries and that it produces great relief from chronic pain. There have also been successes with conditions that pharmaceutical drugs have not succeeded in controlling, like digestive disorders, fatigue, depression, hypertension, and sleeplessness.
Patient outcomes and experiences with naturopathy still require much study. But in the few studies that have been conducted, a few themes have stood out.
In this study, which reviewed patient experiences with first-time naturopathic care for Type 2 Diabetes, patients reported naturopathic care to be:
- Holistic rather than diabetes (condition) focused,
These findings show naturopathy to be very effective when used for conditions like diabetes that require self-management and substantial patient engagement for successful control.
In a time where the unfolding opioid crisis is causing serious concern, naturopaths in Toronto and elsewhere can also be proud of the safety and general sustainability of the therapies they use to treat patients.
To summarize the main focus and objective of naturopathy, let’s briefly look at the main principles that guide a naturopathic doctor practicing in Toronto or elsewhere:
The Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathy has been practiced for hundreds of years. Throughout this time, six guiding principles for the way naturopaths work have emerged and are now generally accepted. These are as follows:
- Belief in nature’s healing power and the body’s ability to heal itself,
- Importance of identifying and treating the root causes of illnesses,
- Utilizing natural therapies and shun invasive and toxic therapies,
- The doctor is an educator who teaches on the steps to achieving and maintaining health,
- Treating the whole person in all their physical and spiritual dimensions,
- A focus on wellness, overall health, and preventive care.
Is Naturopathic Medicine Safe?
The common accusation naturopaths face, especially from their counterparts in conventional medicine is that the practice lacks well-established standards of medical care. They deplore what they deem to be an approach not based on science.
But what these critics have not succeded at is proving that naturopathy itself is unsafe.
If anything, the question to ask should be on the efficacy of naturopathy treatments, which as we have already established has been proven for several chronic conditions.
What critics have cited as side effects of naturopathic medicine are rather general and will sound insignificant when analyzed against the dangerous side effects of some prescription drugs.
For the avoidance of doubt, naturopathic doctors in Toronto undergo rigorous and extensive training. And to prove their therapies and methods are safe, insurance malpractice rates for NDs are among the lowest in the industry.
Our recommendation is to make your decision after a consultation with a licensed naturopath. Speaking of that, you should know what to look for in a naturopath:
How to Choose a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto
Every naturopath practicing in the province of Ontario must have undergone four years of training in naturopathic medicine.
Beyond their specialist training, some naturopaths choose to specialize in a few areas, for example, diabetes and weight loss.
Other naturopaths may also have undergone further study that qualifies them for specializations in areas like doula, kinesiology, IV therapy, and abdominal therapy. And it is not uncommon to find NDs who have undergone conventional general practitioner training.
If you prefer to still keep your treatment options open, ask if the naturopath you are considering will be prepared to work with your regular doctor. Generally, though, naturopaths understand that their work may have interactions with conventional medicine.
Are you nursing physical injuries or struggling with chronic pain? The naturopaths at our recently opened clinic would love to help. St. Clair Physiotherapy Clinic is the latest HealthMax Clinic to open in the Greater Toronto Area. Book your appointment with one of our naturopaths today.