Frequently Asked Questions

If you read all 15 of these FAQ's, you will know a lot about Naturopathic Doctors! 

What is naturopathic medicine?

A: Naturopathic medicine is a comprehensive primary health care profession that focuses on prevention and uses natural, safer methods to promote healing in acute and chronic disease states.  For more detailed information, click here.

What types of patients can naturopathic medicine treat?

A: All ages and types of patients: women, men, and children. Our Naturopathic Doctors works as primary care doctors to treat any non-emergency room illness or condition.  For example, patients who suffer from chronic pain, who want to safely lose weight, who are bothered by symptoms of menopause, or are chronically ill can all benefit from naturopathic medicine.  For some more examples of health conditions, please click here.

What type of training does a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) receive?

A: Naturopathic doctors have a minimum of 8 years of post-secondary education. An undergraduate degree, with specific science prerequisites, is mandatory before entering either of the two accredited naturopathic colleges in Canada.  Dr. Mountain completed a Bachelors of Science Degree in Exercise and Health Physiology (University of Calgary) and also completed the post graduate CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist®.  

Naturopathic college consists of four years of naturopathic medical training.  The first 2 years contain  primarily biomedical sciences similar to the curriculum at a conventional medical school and includes an introduction to naturopathic practices.  The first two years are focused on gaining an in depth understanding of the science of the body - anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, differential diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis etc.  The third year consists of further biomedical training and includes extensive training on naturopathic treatments to prepare students for treating patients in fourth year.  Fourth year consists of additional courses in naturopathic therapeutics as well as 12 months of internship treating patients under the supervision of a licensed naturopathic doctor.  Dr. Mountain completed his internship at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto which has over 26,000 patient visits per year.  Finally, two sets of intensive licensing exams and Board Certification exams need to be passed before one can practice as a naturopathic doctor in a regulated province.

How is visiting a Naturopathic Doctor the same as visiting a Medical Doctor?

A: Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s) are trained in medical sciences and may use the same scientific resources your family physician uses to diagnose and treat your condition. Similar to an appointment with your medical doctor, your ND may also do a physical exam and/or laboratory testing to ensure a complete understanding of your concern.  Also, both MD’s and ND’s will refer to another medical professional when appropriate.  Most naturopathic doctors are also like family doctors who may treat all members of your family.

How is visiting a Naturopathic Doctor the different from visiting a Medical Doctor?

A: One of the most apparent differences is TIME.  Naturopathic doctors usually spend a significant greater amount of time with patients – so bring your questions!  Our Naturopathic Doctors consider education of their patients, and answers to their questions, an essential aspect of true health care.  Also, side effects occur much less frequently with ND’s because they typically get to know their patients' history well and also use therapies with fewer adverse reactions. Additionally, although there are similarities in training between an MD and ND, naturopathic philosophy includes a therapeutic order and investigation that changes the application of this training. Furthermore, naturopathic doctors have a broader range of tools to treat non-emergent conditions.  The key to finding treatments that work for the long term is taking the time to investigate all systems in your body so that the root cause can be discovered and addressed.

Will Naturopathic Doctors work with other health care practitioners?

A: Absolutely.  Naturopathic doctors can complement and enhance the health services provided by other health care professionals, including your family doctor.  If you would like to work with any other physicians, please bring the contact information for these physicians you are working with to your appointment.  Please also bring along any recent lab work results or imaging.  Naturopathic doctors provide patients with truly integrative health care.

If I am taking prescription medications, can I still take natural medicines?

A: It is very important that you provide our Naturopathic Doctors with a complete list of current medications and keep him informed of any changes.  Naturopathic doctors are trained to understand the effects of prescription medications in the body and the interactions between prescription medications and natural therapies. With this knowledge, an ND can safely prescribe natural treatments that will work to enhance the effectiveness, reduce the side effects and rebalance any deficiency from your prescription medications.

What can I expect from my first visit with one of your Naturopathic Doctors?

A: The first visit typically lasts up to an hour and includes addressing your primary concerns. He will spend the time to listen and help identify the most immediate medical issues and establish long-term goals to provide corrective and preventative care. A physical exam or assessment and laboratory testing may be necessary to help determine the root cause of your symptoms. You will receive a treatment plan, and a follow-up appointment may be scheduled within the next 2-4 weeks.

Will Alberta Health Care cover naturopathic treatment?

A: Naturopathic doctors are NOT currently covered by Alberta Health Care.  However, most extended health benefit plans do provide coverage often for a significant portion of treatments. Check your benefits package, or call your insurance provider to inquire further about your coverage for naturopathic medicine.

Is naturopathic treatment research based?

A: Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care doctors to diagnose illnesses utilizing the same researched standards as conventional medical doctors.  Furthermore, naturopathic medical therapies have a long history of safe and effective use that is supported by research.  The direct link between, dietary, environmental, social, psychological, and other lifestyle factors towards affecting health is well documented throughout scientific research. Nutritional medicine has a large body of research from numerous large clinical trials for an extensive range of health concerns. Many herbal medicines also have a long history of traditional use that is validated by current medical research and safety data. The evidence base supporting the safety and effectiveness of naturopathic medicine continues to grow daily as new research findings are published.

How long will it take to see results?

A: Although our Naturopathic Doctors may prescribe a treatment to immediately help reduce acute symptoms, fixing the root cause of some problems may take time. As such, the frequency and length of your office visits depends on the nature of your health concerns and goals.  Ultimately, your treatment plan will be individualized and tailored together with your Naturopathic Doctor. 

Do I need a referral?

A: Although we always appreciate referrals, you do not need one for any of our services.

What is the difference between naturopathic medicine and Chiropractic?

A: Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners and are trained to use many natural therapies.  As such, they are trained to do adjustments of the spine and joints by many of the same techniques that a Chiropractor would utilize (at CCNM, our adjustment classes were taught by several Chiropractors and ND’s).  On the other hand, Chiropractors are musculoskeletal specialists.  This difference is similar to a Family Doctor who is a generalist and an Orthopedic Surgeon who is a specialist.  In terms of spinal health, some Chiropractors are now gaining additional training in acupuncture and muscle techniques to offer patients a wider scope of effective treatments similar to naturopathic doctors.  By treating the muscles along with adjusting the bones, patients are often able to return to normal function with fewer treatments. 

What is the difference between naturopathic medicine and homeopathy?

A: Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners in natural medicine. They are trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease using a variety of natural therapies.  All accredited naturopathic schools in North America provide training in homeopathic medicine. (At the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, instructors from the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine also teach some of the homeopathy lectures).  Accordingly, naturopathy is an umbrella term that includes homeopathy.  As such, some naturopathic doctors may choose to use homeopathy as one of their approaches to treatment, when it is appropriate, whereas a homeopath would primarily use only a homeopathic therapy. Additionally, most homeopathic programs are only two to three years in length, vary significantly in philosophy, and are not a regulated profession in Alberta. 

Is naturopathic medicine cost-effective?

A: Yes. Naturopathic medicine is focused on treating root causes, not solely symptoms. With Canada’s health care system overburdened with chronic diseases, naturopathic medicine is proving to be more cost-effective one research study at a time.  While identifying the cause of any particular condition may take some time, each treatment step is aimed at improving your overall health. This is all part of preventing illnesses in the future.