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Naturopathic Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of primary health care that has been practiced in North America for over 125 years. Naturopathy utilizes a patient-centred approach that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health using therapeutic methods and substances that both support the body’s natural ability to heal and help the patient experience sustainable health and wellness.

Naturopathic medicine works with a functional medicine approach to healthcare—identifying physiological and biochemical imbalances within the individual, and using natural, scientifically-proven solutions to rectify these imbalances.

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) focus on minimally invasive methods, naturally occurring substances, and the promotion of natural healing. They also emphasize illness prevention and a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Healing Foundations honours the following fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine:

  • The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae)
    • Each person has the inner capacity to heal from illness and disease.
  • Identify and treat the causes (tolle causam)
    • Investigate and remove the underlying causes of a person’s disease rather than simply suppressing symptoms.
  • First do no harm (Primum non nocere)
    • Use natural treatment methods that are safe and effective to support and augment the body’s ability to heal, while minimizing harmful side effects.
  • Doctor as teacher (Docere)
    • Spend an adequate amount of time with every patient and explain the details of their illness in terms they can understand.
  • Treat the whole person (Tolle totum)
    • Account for the complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental factors that affect the health of patients.
  • Prevention (Praevenic)
    • Offer encouragement and emphasize disease prevention.

Treatment Methods of Naturopathic Medicine

Healthy foods are used as medicine to improve the body’s internal biological terrain so dis-ease no longer prospers.

Examining the relationship between what you eat and your health, and ensuring your body has peak levels of essential nutrients from food or supplements, is a key part of naturopathic treatment.

Integrating new habits or lifestyle changes can help you enjoy better health. 

Keeping in mind your particular health goals, recommendations about lifestyle changes (e.g. hydration, meditation, adjusting sleep schedule, daily movement practices tailored to your body’s needs and preferences etc.) will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Plant medicines have been effectively used to treat acute and chronic conditions for centuries; it is one of the oldest systems of medicine that is now being proven by science.

Available as teas, tinctures, powders, and capsules, herbal medicine is exceptional at nourishing and restoring vital body systems (such as digestive, immune, hormonal systems, etc.) and helping overcome many types of illnesses.

Homeopathy is used to treat both acute and chronic health concerns and has been used worldwide for over 200 years. 

This gentle, fast-acting, generally safe and effective approach uses very small doses of natural substances to stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.  It is eco & enviro-friendly, and available in granule, pellet or liquid form. 

Homeopathic medicines are ideal for those who are highly sensitive to pharmaceuticals as well as pregnant women, infants, and older adults.

Traditional Chinese Medicine balances the flow of chi (energy) and the yin and yang aspects of the body-mind relationship.  ______ [borrow from TCM college ]

Acupuncture affects the physical body and the mental and emotional realms, reducing anxiety, depression, pain, stress and fatigue, while increasing energy and strengthening the immune system, balancing moods, circulation and the nervous and hormonal systems.

How the Naturopathic Approach Works

Our client-centered approach supports improvement for your health because it focuses on 3 key areas:

  • The naturopath will do a thorough 60-90 minute intake of your complete health history that includes discussion of all aspects of your life—foods, hormones, mental/emotional stress, social interactions, surrounding environment, sleep patterns, side effects of pharmaceuticals, physical movement, etc. 

  • Physical examination(s), blood work, and other laboratory investigations are also used as needed to help assess the cause of your illness. These investigations can help elucidate the cause of or factors affecting your condition, and thus help guide your treatment plan.

  • With this information, we will help you develop a holistic foundation for an evidence-based natural treatment plan—without resorting to unnecessary drugs.
  • The Latin translation of “doctor” means “teacher” and naturopathic doctors take this aspect of our job to heart. We believe that by teaching you the basic concepts of how your body works, you will gain a better understanding of your health problems and acquire the insight you need to help yourself heal from pain, disease, and illness. 

  • By consistently encouraging you to make small but effective changes in your thoughts and behaviour, as well as giving you practical guidance of how to implement the recommended changes into your life, naturopathic doctors help support your health & wellness. 

  • Scaring you into making drastic lifestyle changes is not our style. Instead, we seek to provide you with an atmosphere of compassion, empathy, non-judgment, and patience.
  • The body has a vital energy force (or ‘qi’) which is relentlessly working to repair and heal the body. Your body does its best to support your wellbeing and survival, but it can become stuck, hyper-vigilant, or weak. When the body needs additional help to optimize your health, naturopathic medicine is an excellent evidence-based healthcare model choice.

  • Naturopathic therapies address imbalances in your body by helping to adjust your digestive, immune, nervous and hormonal systems to a more optimal state, thereby allowing and facilitating physical, mental, and emotional balance.

If you desire the gift of better health, naturopathic medicine can help you attain it.

What to Expect at your Appointments with Dr. Heidi McGill, ND

Generally speaking, visits one through four are scheduled relatively close together (as indicated above) in order to get you moving towards your health goals. As your body begins to heal and feel better, your sessions with your ND will be spaced further apart (2 to 4 to 6 months).

  • Once you schedule an appointment at our clinic, you will be provided with an intake form. Please fill out this form prior to your visit, online or in paper copy, and if you are not using the online version please bring the completed paper copy with you to your appointment.

  • At your first visit, your ND will guide you along by asking some specific questions about the nature of your health concerns and the possible circumstances which may have provoked and/or contributed to your current state of health. She will also ask about your lifestyle, diet, medications and supplements, as well as any treatments you have sought out in the past for your condition. Your ND will want to know about your mental/emotional health, and she will inquire about any stress you may be experiencing. Your ND is also interested in getting to know you as a person and she will ask about your hobbies, interests, and what your health goals are.

  • Physical exam and laboratory assessment will take place during the first visit or at a follow-up visit, depending on the nature of your health condition.
  • It’s helpful if you can bring your supplements and medications (in original containers) for your ND to see what you’re currently taking.
  • Your ND will explain to you the recommended course of treatment and rationale and benefits, including how the treatment plan can help you heal and remove the cause(s) of your disease. This review is also educational as the ND helps you to understand what is going on with your body—often through use of drawings or pictures to help make sense of what has happened and how it can improve.

  • Treatment is prescribed (e.g. diet and lifestyle recommendations, supplements or herbal and homeopathic remedies, referral to other practitioners for services such as osteopathy or acupuncture) with clear directions on how to implement these recommendations into your daily life.

  • At the end of your second session you will:
    • Pay for the session and have the opportunity to purchase recommended medicines (debit, credit, cheque, or cash)
    • Schedule your third visit in approximately 2 – 6 weeks
  • Your ND will follow-up on how you are faring and see how you are doing with the treatment protocol.

  • Any questions you may have about the protocol will be addressed at this visit.
    • If you have experienced difficulty with following the treatment protocol, your ND will work with you to find solutions for integrating the recommendations into your busy life
  • We will discuss and address any physical or emotional discomfort you may be experiencing as a result of the treatment protocol.

  • Your ND will build upon the treatment protocol if things are going well and make adjustments as necessary. Additional medicines or treatments may be prescribed if indicated.

  • At the end of your third session you will:
    • Pay for the session and have the opportunity to purchase recommended medicines (debit, credit, cheque, or cash)
    • Schedule your next visit in 4 – 8 weeks
  • We’ll discuss any changes in your current health and condition to check in about improvement, new developments, etc.

  • Depending on how you’re feeling, your treatment plan may stay the same or be refined to further support your progress and help you achieve your health goals.

  • New blood work or lab tests may be ordered to monitor your improvement.
  • At the end of your fourth session you will:
    • Pay for the session and have the opportunity to purchase recommended medicines (debit, credit, cheque, or cash)
    • Schedule your next visit as recommended (usually 2-6 months)

These are an effective way to track changes in your health and/or fluctuations in your physical, mental, and emotional state. Daily, weekly or monthly logs may be utilized as per your individual health situation.

Health journals or logs can help you become more aware of how your circumstances—such as stress, food intake, etc.—relate to your physical wellbeing (e.g. stomachaches, headaches, etc.) and affect your body, mind, and emotions. As your body-mind consciousness improves, your health follows.

Your ND will provide guidance about easy and effective ways to log your information. By tracking the changes and transitions you have undergone during your naturopathic treatment, it will be easier to report these updates to your ND and your visits together will be more effective for helping you achieve your health goal(s).

When your condition has resolved and you have attained your health goals, follow-up appointments typically take place on a biannual or yearly basis or as needed.

Past clients have stated that these visits are “invaluable” because they provide you with the opportunity to:

  • address any new or unresolved health issues, including discussion of recent blood work or other test results from other practitioners

  • be proactive in caring for your health & preventing illness or disease

  • ask questions & learn about latest scientific information about your health condition(s)

  • receive support, strategies, & encouragement with your protocol and positive health habits

  • complete new laboratory reassessments as needed—e.g. to track changes in hormones, inflammation, nutrient levels, etc.

  • update your treatment plan as needed so that you can keep healing and maintaining your wellbeing in body and mind.

In these sessions, it’s extremely helpful for your ND to hear about any changes in your condition(s) and what you have been experiencing physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Do my benefits cover naturopathic medicine?

Most insurance companies accept naturopathic medicine treatments. It is always best to quickly call your insurance company to check if naturopathy is included in your benefits plan. OHIP does not cover naturopathy treatments. Please see our payment policy for more information.

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything; it’s going to turn out fine anyway.’ Either way, nothing happens.”

– Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, Inc.