The facts

Naturopathy is a whole medical system based on belief in the healing elements of nature, the power of prevention, and the potential for the body to heal itself.

With roots in 19th century Europe, naturopathy has evolved through the years to include many different natural and alternative therapies and treatments. Naturopaths employ nutritional supplements, herbs and natural products, aspects of Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy, as well as manual therapies like massage.

The goal of naturopathy is to support health. When it comes to treating disease, naturopathic physicians focus on finding and treating the cause rather than minimizing or relieving symptoms. Proponents of the system look upon symptoms as indications of a body fighting back against an illness.

Naturopathic physicians look at their patients' health holistically and create management plans based on their unique profile.

A word of caution

Some beliefs and practices in naturopathy do not follow the same approach and may even clash with conventional medicine.

Natural does not equal the safest or best option for your health. A treatment or medication deemed "natural" can still be harmful. Only use naturopathic medicinal products authorized for sale by Health Canada. You can tell a product is Health Canada approved if it bears an eight-digit drug identification number (DIN), a natural product number (NPN), or a homeopathic drug number (DIN-HM).

Six provinces regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. There is no professional licensing in the other provinces, but a practitioner may hold a naturopathic medicine degree and practice under licenses for other alternative or complementary therapies, like chiropractic or Oriental medicine.

Be sure to tell your health care providers about any naturopathic medications you have used or treatments you have undergone.