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Naturopathic Doctors and General Practitioners: What’s the Difference?

While Western-style medicine and health techniques are prevalent in North America, in recent years there has been a movement towards holistic healthcare, where more natural treatments are applied. If your friends and family have suggested a visit to a naturopathic doctor along with consulting your GP, you may be wondering what the difference between the professionals is. Here, we break it down for you.


According to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, naturopathic medicine combines both natural and holistic forms of medicine with more modern pharmaceutical and medical treatments. Naturopathic doctors are trained much like a GP is with extensive medical training and required testing and licensing like the North American Board Exams (NPLEX). There is regulation relating to naturopathic medicine and the doctors who practice it, but the focus is more on overall health and wellbeing through a person’s self-healing abilities. Naturopathic medicine takes a holistic view of wellbeing and often encourages practicing yoga, using herbal supplements, and undergoing regular massage.


Whereas a GP is likely to look at things such as medications to help alleviate your symptoms, a naturopathic doctor will look at what you can do to support your body in fixing the underlying issues. Medications often have side effects, and while many of these are minor and can be managed, some are much more severe.


Naturopathic doctors also work to help your body build up a natural defense against sickness and disease. This preventative approach not only reduces the chemicals you expose your body to, but it can also save you money on medical bills and expenses.


Natural medicines are often more accessible than many Western medical treatments. Things such as natural supplements, dietary changes and yoga can all be done easily, regardless of age or medical care access.


Naturopathic doctors and GPs both have a place in our day-to-day healthcare needs. Together, they can address both the root causes of disease while helping to alleviate symptoms and incorporate more Western-style medicines and treatments.