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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Medical Doctors (MDs) and Naturopathic Doctors (NDs)?

The main differences are regarding our training and the systems we operate within.

While MDs and NDs both receive the same standard medical training, MD programs focus more on pharmaceuticals and surgery, while ND programs focus more on natural medicine (like botanicals, nutrition, physical therapies, counselling, etc.).

The way the conventional healthcare system is set up in Ontario, MDs are usually limited to 10-15 minutes with patients to only address immediate concerns. NDs usually spend at least 30-60 minutes with patients to work on chronic conditions and their root causes. NDs are also taught to empower and listen to their patients, whereas MDs are usually taught that they know what’s best for their patients.

What’s the difference between Psychologists/Psychiatrists/other mental health professionals and Naturopathic Doctors?

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals receive advanced training in conversational techniques/therapies, whereas NDs receive basic training in counselling.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and NDs are all trained to recognize, prevent, and manage mental health conditions, whereas social workers are mostly trained to be supportive. Psychotherapy is a protected act for professionals who have attained the proper education.

Psychiatrists are MDs who are also trained to prescribe pharmaceutical medications, whereas NDs are trained to prescribe natural medications.

What’s the difference between Naturopaths and Naturopathic Doctors?

The main differences are regarding education and regulation.

Naturopaths do not receive standardized education, which means that there are a variety of programs that are not accredited. They do not receive supervised clinical training. Due to this, they are not eligible to write standardized board exams, nor regulated to make diagnoses or be primary care providers.

NDs must complete a pre-medical Bachelor’s degree or equivalent courses before being accepted into a 4-year post-graduate accredited program by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). They must complete more than 4100 hours of education, including at least 1200 hours of supervised clinical training. Then, they must complete a standardized set of board exams depending on where they practice. They are regulated as primary care providers to diagnose and treat all health concerns.

Why would I see a Naturopathic Doctor for my mental health?

Current research and ancient wisdom agree that the best way to treat mental health (and health in general) is from an integrative, wholistic approach. NDs are the only profession who are trained to provide services that encompass the entire range of what a person needs to feel whole with their mind, body, and spirit. Other professions require additional training to be considered “integrative”.

Naturopathic medicine is for people who would like to treat their mental health with more than just pills and therapy. In practice, an NDs approach to mental health could look something like: correcting deficiencies and reducing inflammation through diet, prescribing botanical/orthomolecular medication to reduce symptoms and support the mind/body, modifying other lifestyle aspects like exercise, sleep, and the stress response; improving mindset/motivation to achieve goals, etc. Most people don’t need advanced talk therapy to feel better, OR, talk therapy isn’t enough on its own.

Oftentimes, NDs are sought as an addition to a person's existing healthcare team. We always encourage a collaborative approach to healthcare, which we believe is the way of the future. When a person has so many doctors, NDs usually function as the hub to make sure their client understands all their treatment options to maximize benefit and minimize harm.

Can you be my primary care doctor?

Yes! All licensed NDs are fully regulated to provide primary care for patients.

Can Naturopathic Doctors order lab tests?

Yes, although lab tests ordered through NDs are not covered by OHIP (yet). To save money for patients, we typically work with their MDs to order lab tests for them.

Are Naturopathic Doctors against pharmaceuticals?

No we’re not! Pharmaceuticals are important for a lot of health conditions, and for some people they’re essential. However, NDs believe that for most people, there are a lot of effective and safer options that should be considered before pharmaceuticals – they shouldn’t be the first-line treatment unless it’s an emergency.

Can Naturopathic Doctors prescribe pharmaceuticals?

Unfortunately, NDs do not have prescribing rights in Ontario (yet). However, as part of our education, we have received pharmacology training, mostly regarding safety and interactions with natural medications. Actually, a lot of our clients are already taking at least 1 drug, and a big part of our job is to educate them about whether the symptoms they’re experiencing could be from adverse effects of their drugs, and the pros and cons of the drugs they’ve been prescribed.

Can Naturopathic Doctors taper me off my medications?

In Ontario, any changes to drug dosing need to be made by the prescribing physician. However, we provide support in the tapering process, and help to advocate for people who want to reduce their medications.

Is naturopathy covered by OHIP?

Unfortunately, naturopathic medicine is not covered by OHIP (yet).

Is naturopathy covered by my insurance?

Naturopathy is covered by most health insurance plans! Please take a look at your coverage. I am happy to work with you to get the most out of your coverage.

Do you sell supplements?

Yes! All supplements I recommend can be purchased through my clinic. Every supplement has been thoroughly researched by Dr. Deborah Berg, who has over 20 years of experience treating patients and building relationships with the best supplement companies.

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