What is a Naturopath?

Holly Paraschuk, ND

Wondering what a naturopath actually is and what they do? 

Let me give you a quick snapshot!

I have organized this post as questions & answers so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for. I hope this will answer your questions and allows you to see how I help people achieve their goals daily.

If you have any other questions or wondering if naturopathic medicine is right for you, please contact me here!

A naturopathic doctor (ND), AKA a naturopath:

  • Is a primary healthcare professional.
  • Is focused on lifestyle & preventative medicine.
  • Diagnoses, treats and manages both acute (short term) and chronic (long term) conditions.
  • Treats people of all genders and ages.
  • Uses evidence-based natural traditional therapies alongside conventional medicine.

What’s the difference between my doctor (MD) and a naturopath (ND)?

  • Naturopathic medicine considers the needs of the whole person (body, mind and soul); taking into consideration much more than just the physical symptoms.
  • Increased length of time of each appointment (typically 30-60 minutes), a luxury which allows more attention to be given to educating you on various treatment options and importantly, diet and lifestyle changes that can dramatically impact health outcomes.
  • Uses the most natural and least disruptive treatments possible in order to support the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
  • Naturopathic medicine excels in disease prevention, treatment of chronic (long-term) illness and promoting general wellness through lifestyle medicine. Conventional medicine excels at emergency medicine, surgical intervention and using medication to aid in symptom relief and fight infection.
  • Naturopathic medicine is covered by most private insurance plans and is HST exempt; MDs are covered by OHIP.

Do I have to choose between my medical doctor (MD) and naturopathic doctor (ND)?

  • Absolutely not!

Despite popular belief, naturopaths and the practice of naturopathic medicine are NOT against conventional medical practices and/or pharmaceutical intervention. Both practice are meant to complement one another. There is a time and a place for each type of medicine to be used individually, however for best practice and optimal health it is ideal to seek the care of both a naturopathic and medical doctor. Most doctors (ND & MD) are willing to work as a team with the patient to provide the most comprehensive care and achieve health goals most successfully.

What can a naturopath do?

  • A naturopath is first and foremost a primary care physician, similar to a family doctor.
  • Naturopaths provide general heath checks and screening, for example, physical exams, Pap tests, ordering required blood work and more.
  • Provide referrals to specialists or to your medical doctor when it is required.
  • Treat acute (short term) and chronic (long term) conditions.
  • Prevent disease and discomfort and maximizing your quality of life.
  • Help you achieve your health goals
  • Prescribe nutritional, herbal and some pharmaceutical grade substances (with additional certification).
  • Diet and lifestyle recommendations & protocols. NDs have extensive training in clinical nutrition and often use food as medicine.
  • Stress management.
  • Acupuncture and cupping as a part of Traditional Asian Medicine.
  • IV therapy (with additional certification).

How would a naturopath treat me?

A naturopathic assessment considers your:

  • Current & past health history.
  • Personal risk factors.
  • Family health history.
  • Diet & lifestyle.
  • Stressors & stress management.
  • Current & past medications & supplements.
  • Labs & imaging.

Based on your evaluation, an individualized treatment plan will be created for you by your naturopath. Your naturopath will work with you to ensure the plan is one that is reasonable and achievable for you to ensure success. Often some tweaking is required to determine the very best plan for you. Being equipped with all the right information is a key aspect to your success, and so education and training you to take control of your health and life is a foundation of the naturopathic process.

The Nitty Gritty

How are naturopaths trained?

After completing a prerequisite bachelor’s degree, including the required pre-medical courses, a rigorous 4-year medical program at an accredited naturopathic school includes 3000+ hours of in-class training and 1200+ hours of clinical experience. Successful completion of medical training earns a Doctor of Naturopathy degree; there a seven accredited naturopathic schools in North America, two located in Canada (Ontario & BC). Naturopaths are educated in conventional medical diagnosis, management and pharmacology, as well as traditional therapies including: clinical nutrition, traditional Asian medicine and acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, lifestyle management, hydrotherapy and physical medicine.

Are naturopaths licensed/regulated?

Currently naturopaths are regulated/licensed in 5 provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario & Saskatchewan) and 20 states in the US. To become a licensed naturopath and practice in one of these jurisdictions, upon receipt of a Doctor of Naturopathy degree, the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) must be written and successfully passed. Additional examinations and/or training may be required depending on the licensing jurisdiction’s scope of practice.

In Ontario, naturopathic doctors must complete additional examinations in physical examination/instrumentation, acupuncture, naturopathic manipulation, jurisprudence, pharmacology, and intravenous therapy; as well as maintain a good standing with the regulating board, the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). Continuing education credits are required to ensure best practice and maintain a license to practice in Ontario.

I hope you have found this post useful, if you would like to know more please feel free to contact me here, I would love to answer any questions that you may have. In addition you can find additional information at:







Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *