FAQ

Dr. Jennifer Yee, ND (Naturopathic Doctor)

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine that aims to restore health and wellness through the integration of scientific knowledge and holistic healing methods. The focus is on targeting the root causes of illness rather than merely addressing the symptoms of disease and illness.

Individualized treatment care includes a detailed examination of each patient's physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. By returning the body to a place of balance, the goal is to not only address current health concerns but to also make the body more resistant to the effects of illness and stress, both physical and emotional.

Naturopathic doctors are fully trained to take a thorough case history, perform physical examinations, and order and interpret laboratory tests. Once a complete assessment has been made, the treatment approach is individualized to each patient's specific health concerns and involves the integration of clinical nutrition & supplementation, lifestyle & dietary counselling, food sensitivity and hormonal testing,acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, detoxification, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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What sort of health concerns can a naturopathic doctor treat?

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What sort of health concerns can a naturopathic doctor treat?

Naturopathic doctors can treat virtually all health concerns and patients of all ages and levels of health. Some are seeking treatment for specific health concerns while others are have more general goals like attaining optimal health or the prevention of future illness related to ageing or medical conditions that run in their family (e.g. heart disease, cancer, etc.). Some patients opt to see me exclusively as their primary health care practitioner but the majority will see me in addition to their regular medical doctor and/or other health care practitioners (e.g. physiotherapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, etc.). Most of the patients who see me are seeking alternatives to the conventional medical treatments that have been recommended to them or that they are currently using (e.g. medication or surgery). In all cases, the primary concern is safety, and I make sure that my patients are closely monitored and that the recommendations I make are safe, especially if they are being used in combination with other medications or therapies.

Some health conditions I commonly treatand/or support include digestive concerns (e.g. heartburn, constipation, irritable bowel, Crohn's, colitis, food sensitivities, etc.), hormonal imbalances in men and women, thyroid imbalances, menstrual irregularities(e.g. irregular or painful periods, PMS, menopausal symptoms, fibroids/cysts, etc.), infertility, pre-natal and post-partum care, pediatric/adolescent/young adult care, insomnia/sleep disturbances, mood/behavioural disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, etc.), stress, low energy/fatigue, chronic pain conditions (e.g. headaches,migraines, fibromyalgia, etc.), allergies (e.g. seasonal, environmental, food, etc.), skin issues (e.g. eczema, psoriasis, acne, etc.), compromised immune system (e.g. frequent colds/flu, infections, HIV support, etc.), auto-immune conditions (e.g. arthritis,lupus, Celiac disease, etc.), neurological disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's,etc.), musculoskeletal pain (e.g.low back pain, sciatica, neck/shoulder pai n), diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

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How is a naturopathic doctor different from a medical doctor?

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How is a naturopathic doctor different from a medical doctor?

Naturopathic Medicine is a system of health care that integrates conventional medicine with complementary health therapies. The role of the naturopathic doctor(also called an ND or naturopath) is similar to a general practitioner or family doctor with some distinct differences.

Like medical doctors, naturopathic doctors also receive extensive post-graduate training in conventional medical sciences like physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, physical examination, laboratory analysis, pharmacology, and many other subjects.

The major differences include:

  • (1) The length of time spent with patients(see section on "what to expect on your first visit & follow-up visits)

  • (2) Philosophy of health and wellness. All patients are treated as individuals and there is no "one size fits all" approach -although two people may have similar health concerns, the treatment approaches may be quite different, as they will be specifically tailored to each unique individual.

  • Naturopathic doctors view the body as a whole rather than separately functioning compartments. This holistic approach believes that an imbalance i n one system of the body can lead to imbalances i n other areas of the body (e.g. an imbalanced digestive system may have an impact on immunity, hormonal imbalances, neurological disorders, and mood disturbances). By treating the underlying cause of the imbalance or disease, we can address the actual causes of illness rather than just masking or managing the symptoms of disease. By fortifying the foundations of health in the body, the goal is to not just treat the disease but also to prevent future disease and optimize health and quality of life -there is a big difference between merely "not being sick" and being at "optimal health".

  • (3) Treatment Approaches. Naturopathic treatments may include nutritional supplementation, lifestyle & dietary counselling, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and manual therapies (hydrotherapy, naturopathic bodywork). Naturopathic treatments can be used alone or combined with conventional treatments like medication. In many cases, naturopathic treatments can be used in place of conventional treatments like medication or to prevent surgery that is not medically necessary-this process take time and must be closely monitored so it is done safely. Safety is always the priority and the naturopathic treatments I recommend must be specifically selected for the individual so that they do not interact with medications or other treatments that are being used.

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What to expect on a your first visit & follow-up visits?

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What to expect on a your first visit & follow-up visits?

The first visit is between 1 hour to 1.5 hours in length(45 minutes for infants and children). During your visit we will discuss i n detail your main reasons for coming to see me (i.e. your main health concerns or health goals)as well as your medical history and family medical history.I will also review any recent lab or imaging tests that you have had recently or I may make recommendations for additional testing that your doctor or I can request or naturopathic-specific testing that can be performed by me (e.g. screening for food sensitivities, salivary hormone tests, etc.). I will ask you more in depth questions about areas that your medical doctor may not typically focus on such as stress, energy, mood, and the immune system -as I believe all these areas are important factors relating to health and wellness. If necessary, I may also perform a physical exam (e.g. measure blood pressure, listen to your heart or lungs, etc.). At the end of the visit I will outline both my initial treatment recommendations (things you can start doing today) as well as the long-term treatment plan for the next few weeks or months.During the entire process, feel free to ask questions or for clarification at any time. It is very important that you thoroughly understand the rationale for each specific treatment and that you feel comfortable with the treatment recommendations before moving forward with them.

The second visit will typically be 1-2 months after your initial consultation and will take about 20-30 minutes. The purpose of follow-up visits is to monitor your progress, introduce new treatments if needed, and/or adapt the treatment plan as required. As your health improves, visits will be spaced further and further apart. At a certain point, if all your main health concerns are improving or resolved, we may start to focus on treating other health concerns that were less of a priority before, optimizing your current level of health, and/or preventing future illness.

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How is a naturopathic doctor different than other natural health care practitioners?

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How is a naturopathic doctor different than other natural health care practitioners?

Naturopathic doctors require very specific training and licensing requirements. All naturopathic doctors must obtain an undergraduate Bachelor's degree from a university prior to being accepted to an accredited naturopathic college. There are currently 2 accredited naturopathic colleges in Canada (the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto and the Boucher Institute in Vancouver) and 5 in the United States. The naturopathic program itself is 4.5 years of intense full-time study. During this time we receive training in the medical sciences (e.g. biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, etc.), clinical sciences (e.g. laboratory analysis, differential diagnosis, physical examination, etc.), and naturopathic therapies (clinical nutritional lifestyle & dietary counselling, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathic bodywork, and spinal manipulation). Throughout our training, we are also treating patients under the guidance of licensed naturopathic doctors (similar to an internship or residency program for a medical doctor).In the second year of study, Part One of our naturopathic medical licensing exam must be completed and upon graduation, Part Two of the exam is written. Both portions of this exam must be successfully completed in order to legally practice as a naturopathic doctor in North America. In addition to this, most provinces and states will have their own association requirements. In Alberta, all naturopathic doctors must pass additional screening to enter the government-regulated College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta in order to legally practice in the province of Alberta as a naturopathic doctor.If you are unsure if a natural health practitioner is currently a member of the CNDA, please refer to the CNDA site to research further: http://www.cnda.net. All registered naturopathic doctors across Canada are also members of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and their website can be found here: http://www.cand.ca.

In Alberta, licensed naturopathic doctors are part of a government regulated health profession, just like medical doctors, optometrists, dentists, chiropractors and other licensed health care professionals. This means that we have certai n clinical practice standards, ethical standards, and conti nuing educations requirements to uphold. As a patient, you also have assurances that your health, safety and best interests are protected by government regulation. As a result of this regulation and also due to the length and extensiveness of our training, the scope of practice of naturopathic doctors is typically much larger than many other natural health practitioners; for example, naturopathic doctors have the ability to diagnose, perform physical exams, and order lab tests and interpret the results, amongst many other abilities. Through the study of conventional medical sciences as well as the naturopathic treatment approaches, we can act as an educated mediator between conventional medicine and complementary medicine. Many patients have valid concerns about the safety of certain natural therapies or question whether a specific therapy is even appropriate for them. Naturopathic doctors can work alone or with other health care practitioners (e.g. medical doctor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc.) to answer those concerns and develop the most appropriate treatment plan for the particular, individual. Naturopathic medical visits are covered by many extended health care plans and some insurance plans may also cover the cost of supplements and specialized naturopathic lab testing (e.g. food sensitivity testing, hormone testing, etc.).

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