What is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath?

What is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath? Now that I have designations as both a naturopathic doctor and a homeopathic doctor, this question seems to be popping up a lot more frequently.

Here`s a video by my colleague Seth Yates explaining the basic concepts of naturopathic medicine, treatment methods and education of a naturopathic doctor, I especially like the funky background music:

Now that you`ve familiarized yourself with naturopathic medicine, watch this video of my mentor Julie Henry explaining the basic concepts of homeopathy as well as the difference between homeopath and a naturopath:

Next, let`s summarize some of the key similarities and differences between a naturopath and homeopath:

Philosophy of health

Both naturopaths and homeopaths work under a wholistic view of health.  They strive to do no harm and treat using the most least invasive method available.  Health is considered to be influenced by physical, mental, emotional, social, and environmental factors which are all taken into account when deciding on a treatment plan.  Symptoms are an expression of an imbalance within a person and the different systems of the body are interconnected.  Both a naturopath and homeopath work to heal the root cause of a person`s health issues, rather than suppress symptoms.

For more information on the guiding principles of wholistic medicine: http://www.drellensimone.com/guiding-principles.html

Types of treatments

A naturopath uses homeopathy as part of their overall healing toolkit.  They also use nutrition, supplements, lifestyle counseling, botanicals, Chinese medicine and acupunture, and physical medicine when treating their patients.  A homeopath is considered a specialist in using homeopathy and this is the primary treatment method used.  Both use their tools to provide specific and individualized care for their patients.

Education

A naturopath and a homeopath both have knowledge of the core health sciences such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, immunology and pharmacology as well as training in physical examination, appropriate assessment, and knowledge of when to refer to another practitioner if warranted. Both professions undergo rigorous clinical training and examinations to ensure graduates meet the standards required to practice their form of medicine.

Educational institutions in Ontario:

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine

Regulation in Ontario

Currently, both naturopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine are in a transition process to become regulated in Ontario under the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA).  Naturopaths were previously regulated under the Drugless Practitioner Act and the Board of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy.  Homeopaths have not been regulated in Ontario for a number of years and this re-regulation follows a renewed use of homeopathic medicine as a form of alternative medicine treatment.

Regulation resources:

The Transitional Council of the College of Naturopaths of Ontario

The Transitional Council of the College of Homeopaths of Ontario

Integration with other healthcare professionals

Regulation under the RHPA will hopefully lead to an increasing number of naturopaths and homeopaths being included in a patient`s current health team.  Integrating homeopathic and naturopathic medicine can effectively augment a patient`s conventional treatment plan leading to higher patient satisfaction and more comprehensive patient care.

Insurance coverage

Homeopathic and naturopathic medicine are currently not covered under OHIP and patients pay for these services.  However, the majority of private insurance companies like Great West Life and Sunlife provide coverage for these services to assist patients in seeking complementary forms of healthcare. Your employer decides what services are covered in your insurance plan and if naturopathic and homeopathic medicine are not currently covered, you may ask your employer or human resources office to explore the option of including these services.

Resources to help you find a qualified naturopath or homeopath:

Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors

Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors

The Canadian Naturopathic Foundation

Ontario Homeopathic Association

The National United Professional Association of Trained Homeopaths

I hope this post provided you with answers to this very common question. If you have other questions you would like answered let me know and I will try to address them in future blog posts.

Feel free to share your thoughts about naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, as well as resources you think others would find useful!

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