frequently asked questions

i. does naturopathic medicine work?

This is likely the most contentious issue in complementary and alternative medicine. If you were to ask for research on a particular herb, you could pull up 20 double-blind placebo studies right off of Pub Med, showing it’s safety and various therapeutic benefits. This, unfortunately, is not enough. For a treatment to be shown as truly effective in today’s scientific world, we want large studies involving several thousands of patients as well as comprehensive meta analyses of the existing research to determine the actual effect of a treatment. The bad news is that these studies cost millions of dollars. Unfortunately natural products cannot be patented, and therefore there is no money to be made by proving they work. This has not stopped research being done but it certainly impedes the massive, multi-million dollar studies afforded to pharmaceutical companies that will make five times that back in revenue if they are able to prove that a drug is effective.

Yet for each herb, supplement or acupuncture treatment there are hundreds of high quality studies published. This can not be disregarded as evidence that natural products work. Some of the more relevant studies being done are comparing the experiences of patients using naturopathic doctors vs. medical doctors. Patients are FEELING better. This is an important factor to consider when looking at the effectiveness of natural products. While we may not definitively be able to determine the effectiveness of one treatment. As a whole, when treating with a variety of natural products and working to remove obstacles to cure through diet and lifestyle management, patient’s symptoms are improving and they are feeling better.

ii. is naturopathic medicine safe?

The treatments used by a fully trained, accredited Naturopathic Doctor are extremely safe (go to the CNPBC website to ensure that your ND is licensed). A large portion of a naturopathic treatment involves diet changes, mental emotional balancing, non invasive treatments such as acupuncture or homeopathy, all of which are extremely safe with little or no side effects. When it comes to the use of herbs and supplements, naturopathic doctors are fully trained in prescribing these products safely and effectively. In addition, they are rarely prescribed in isolation and are dosed conservatively.

The reason drugs and surgery has become the 6th largest killer next to breast and lung cancer and heart disease is that these therapies while generally effective, are extremely powerful with significant side effects. Naturopathic medicine has the advantage that it works not just to treat the desease but also to remove obstacles to cure and support the body’s function. Often this involves very non-invasive treatments. When we are using products that are intended to shift physiology, we use substances that are already found in the body or in our food so that it improves the efficiency of the body rather than change the way it operates.

Having said this, natural does not always mean safe. I highly discourage my patients from using health food stores without the guidance of a licensed health care provider. It is easy to accidentally double up on a supplement or herb when taking a variety of remedies. In addition, your naturopathic doctor will do adequate testing to ensure that you are not taking supplements that might perpetuate organ dysfunction. With a thorough history and appropriate lab work, an optimal treatment plan can be determined that is extremely safe and effective.

pacific spirit naturopathic clinic | 1800 wesbrook mall, vancouver bc | t: 604.260.6902 e: