Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends conventional medical knowledge with natural therapies and physical techniques in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. The naturopathic philosophy is to address the root cause of illness, stimulate the healing power of the body, support self-healing mechanisms, and honour the mind-body connection. Treatment plans reflect whole person healthcare, using natural substances and therapies to stimulate health and healing using the least invasive methods available, and can be combined with conventional medicine. Treatments are unique to each patient.
Naturopathic training is long and comprehensive. After finishing an undergraduate degree, students complete a 4-year graduate naturopathic medical program from 1 of the 5 accredited schools in North America. The first 2 years of medical training are similar to that which medical doctors receive, including intensive study in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology, pathology, pharmacology, immunology, infectious disease, minor surgery, clinical laboratory, neurology, gynecology and embryology. There is additional coursework throughout in Naturopathic therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, counselling, physical therapy and spinal adjustment, and massage therapeutics. In order to be licensed in the province of British Columbia, after completion of a 4-year naturopathic medical program, each candidate must successfully pass 2 sets of national board exams on basic medical sciences, clinical medical sciences and naturopathic therapeutics.