Vitamin Junkeys

Naturopathic Medicine 101 Ep 04


Vitamin Junkeys Episode #4  (running time 15:17) Date: June 17, 2008

Naturopathic Medicine 101

Podsafe Music: Ice Cream by Christopher Dale

Courtesy of the Podshow Music Network (link to http:

Show hosts: Jennifer Lyall & Dr. Jean Jacques (Dr. JJ) Dugoua, ND HBSc PhD (Cand.)

This episode examines:

What is naturopathic medicine? (internal link)

Who can practice naturopathic medicine?

How does the training a naturopathic doctor receive compare to a medical doctor?

Why would someone see a Naturopathic Doctor?

What can someone expect at a typical appointment?

What is homeopathy?

Are there typical conditions that people see a naturopath for?

How often should someone see a naturopath?

How much does it cost to see a naturopath?

How do I find a naturopath?


What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is science based medicine but instead of treating patients with pharmaceutical drugs, naturopaths treat you naturally. For example a naturopath may use vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, amino acids, diet, etc.

Who can practice Naturopathic Medicine?

You need to be licensed to be a naturopathic doctor.  Naturopaths are licensed in 5 or 6 provinces in Canada and about 15 states in the United States.  Each province or state has a licensing body.  In Canada, Naturopaths have to complete a bachelors degree in science, and 4 years of naturopathic college, and then pass the North American Board exams.  

How does the training a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) receive compare to a medical doctor?

It is comparable in terms of hours of training and clinical time.  The board exams to become a naturopathic doctor are longer.  Naturopathic students must write a week's worth of exams.  Medical doctors have a 2 year residency, but Naturopathic Doctors do not because there are no naturopathic hospitals in North America.  Naturopaths go into practice after 4 years, but prior to that they have to do 1 year clinical work in a naturopathic practice.

Why would someone see a Naturopathic Doctor?

JJ then asks- why don't you (the audience) see a Naturopathic Doctor??  In his practice about 50-60% of his patients are women.  Women tend to be more health conscious. They come in for problems where there isn't a pharmaceutical solution for that issue, like fatigue, thyroid, hormonal complaints, PMS, menstrual cramps.  Digestive problems are also very common (gas, bloating, cramps, food allergies).  Other patients try naturopathic medicine because no one else has been able to give them an answer for their health issue.

Jennifer shared her experience of when she first went to see an ND.  It was when she was pregnant with her son.  She had a bad cold and it wouldn't go away, and she didn't want to take any medications.  She saw the naturopath and tries so many different remedies: hydrotherapy, vitamins, botanical tinctures, supplements.  It was overwhelming.  She became so emotional from the lack of sleep, and the cold lasted for 3 weeks.  Then a colleague of hers who also saw a naturopath said that she could take prescription medicine at this point in the pregnancy, so she saw her medical doctor.  Her cold had turned into bronchitis,  so she got a prescription and it cleared up.  She felt bad for taking the medication, but it was an interesting experience and she still sees that naturopath today.

Dr. JJ commented that in his opinion it is a good idea to align yourself with an alternative health practitioner and medical doctor who are not fundamentalists, but rather have your good health in mind with all of their recommendations.  They should be open to each other's approach to health and be patient centred. 

Dr. JJ personally works well with medical doctors and the majority of his patients are already on medications.  From the research he has reviewed, alot of the research is ba sed on patients who are already taking existing medications, and they are being given natural health products.  Individuals need to be followed when they are taking both medications and natural remedies, but there is no reason why they cannot co-exist.  Naturopathic Medicine is very good on the preventative side.  Modern Medicine is very good on the acute side.  If Dr. JJ had pneumonia, he would want to get a prescription for anti-biotics, however, he would also take pro-biotics to keep the bacteria in balance.

What can someone expect at a typical appointment?

The first appointment is typically about 1 hour- 1 1/4 hours long.  Dr. JJ would typically cover: medical history, family history, risk factors, do you smoke?, do you exercise regularly?,  do you drink water?, what do you eat?, any previous surgeries?, what are your main complaints?  He then uses this information to find patterns, according to your main diseases, and try to fix things according to main disease process that is going on.  (read disease as dis-ease, and not necessarily something "big" like cancer or heart disease. For instance it could be a yeast infection that needs to be addressed).

Then an ND typically looks at your diet, sometimes a patient may do a detox, acupuncture, IV therapy, then the progress is tracked at subsequent visits.

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is separate from naturopathy, however, it is covered under a ND's license.  Homeopathy is based on the philosophy like cures like.  Although it may not make sense when you think about it, nor does it make sense scientifically, however, clinically, if you were to go to the main stadium in any city, you would be able to fill that stadium with people who's health was improved, or lives saved from homeopathic medicine.

In homeopathy, you give a very small does of a remedy, that if given to a healthy person, would cause the symptoms you see in the sick person.  So if someone comes to an ND with a bee sting, they would be given homeopathic bee sting.  Jennifer provided the example of "Allium Cepa" which helps a very runny nose. Allium Cepa is derived from an onion- so if you look at the symptoms a person typically gets when cutting an onion- watery eyes and a very runny nose- Like cures like! 

Another example is arnica.  Arnica is what the mountaineers used to take at the beginning of the season, so they wouldn't get as much joint pain.  Arnica is typically used for bruises and scrapes.

Botanical remedies are also often used.  They could be tinctures,  capsules or standardized extracts.  Examples: Ginkgo Biloba, garlic, milk thistle, black cohosh.


Are there typical conditions that people see a naturopath for?

Yes, hormonal is the most common.  Other common issues include poor digestion, muscular skeletal issues, and fatigue.  Dr. JJ often helps women correct energy issues, which may be thyroid related, they may be anemic, or they may have digestive problems.

How often should someone see a naturopath?

The first appointment is usually the longest.  Then a naturopath will outline a treatment plan, and then there will be a follow-up (how soon depends on the issue).  Some patients see Dr. JJ every 3 months, some every 6 months, and some once a year.  The treatment plan is tailored to the individual and their health issues- it's not a cookie cutter approach.

Jennifer shared that she sees her naturopath as her family doctor.  She goes to her naturopath when her kids get a cold, and she can't treat it with the remedies she has already learned from her naturopath in the past.

Jennifer shared her experiment with the hydrotherapy and the wet sock treatment.  This is when you get a pair of cotton socks, soak them in cold water and wring them out.  Then  you put them on (just before bedtime), and put on a pair of wool socks on top.  Jennifer also wraps her feet in a towel so the bedding doesn't get wet.  They you go to bed.  This helps to stimulate the immune system.  It really helps to clear out your sinuses and to get a good night's sleep.  Jennifer's kids ask for the wet sock treatment when they are sick, because they know it helps.

JJ added that hydrotherapy is also very good for sprains and strains.  When you get swelling in a joint or muscle, place the injured area under the tap in the bath tub and run water over it- start with hot water for 30 seconds, then cold water for 30 seconds, and repeat this 3 times (i.e. hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold).  You can actually see the swelling decreasing because you are driving a lot more blood flow to the area.  And it decreases the pain.

How much does it cost to see a naturopath?

In Canada, the first appointment is about $150 because the ND spends a lot of time with you.  Subsequent appointments are typically around $60, it's based on time.  The cost is often covered partially or totally by private extended health care plans.  It is not covered under subsidized health care in Canada.

How do I find a Naturopathic Doctor?

Go to the Find a Practitioner link on Vitamin Junkeys website.  This is where you will find links to associations that you can contact to help you find a practitioner in your community.


In closing...

A Naturopathic Doctor is just one potential member of your health team.  


Join the addiction!  Join Vitamin Junkeys Anonymous, to subscribe to the Vitamin Junkeys podcast.




Camera: Jerome Marrin
Gaffer: Paul Zander
Editor: Jerome Marrin
Jerome Marrin Media Productions
Special thanks to: Slurp Media &



Join the Addiction

About Vitamin Junkeys

Join Jennifer Lyall and Naturopath, Dr. JJ Dugoua as they have fun exploring alternative therapies and healthy living. Weekly episodes are released every Tuesday.

Jennifer Lyall Read Jen's Blog

Find a Practitioner
Toronto Web Design by LinxSmart