Don't feel bad if you didn't know we offer acupuncture as part of our scope of practice. It can be confusing as to who does and who doesn't practice based on their schooling, their area of practice and their desire to practice this particular modality.
In Canada, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture are offered as part of the 4 year full-time Naturopathic Program whereas in the U.S TCM and acupuncture are not offered as part of the 4 year full-time program. This means that if an ND graduated at either the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto or Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine outside of Vancouver they have been fully educated in TCM and acupuncture. Additionally, a ND can practice acupuncture only if their province, territory or state allows it. Here in Ontario, acupuncture is part of an ND's scope of practice. All practicing ND's must be licensed by the Board of Directors Drugless Therapy- Naturopathy (BDDT-N). The BDDT-N requires all NDs to demonstrate competency in acupuncture via a written and practical exam before licenses are granted (In addition to two North America-wide standardized tests known as NPLEX I & II). If a ND is practicing in an unlicensed province or territory they may practice acupuncture because they are still licensed by the BDDT-N or the BC equivalent. To make matters somewhat more confusing, a ND may have all his/her educational and licensing requirements but not practice acupuncture. Though it is in our scope of practice, ND's can choose not to utilize this modality (though the board encourages us to use our full scope).
The simple solution to all of this? Just ask your Naturopathic Doctor whether this is a service they offer or check out their website. In my practice, I use acupuncture for a myriad of conditions from hormone balancing, fertility, pain, digestive issues, mood disorders and stress relief. Again, if you are seeing a licensed ND here in Ontario they will have the skills required but may choose not use it.
***As a side note: NDs are trained to use acupuncture using the the Traditional Chinese theory of practice similar to a Licenced Acupuncturist (L.Ac) but can also use it as "medical acupuncture" like a chiropractor, medical doctor or physiotherapist. In this way, it is most used for pain relief and musculoskeletal issues.
MISCONCEPTION #2: "I'll wait to see a naturopath as a last resort" Although I am happy to see you even when I am your last resort (and there are still ways to help you at this point) preventing you from getting there should not only be my goal but everyone's goal. Currently, Naturopathic Doctors are the only regulated health professional that are experts in preventative medicine. We are trained to treat patients on all spectrums of health and can meet you where you are at. We use a thorough medical history including family history, relevant lab work and physical exam findings to assess your health and address current as well as future problems. More and more I am thrilled to report that I am seeing patients who are interested in improving their overall health, even when they have a pretty good health profile. The bottom line: there are always aspects of our busy lives that could use some focus and naturopaths help you zero in on what is most important at that given moment and help educate you on areas that might become issues down the road.
MISCONCEPTION #3: "I can't afford your services" Naturopathic medicine can be expensive but anything will seem expensive when we are used to free. I could write all day trying to convince you why paying to have a naturopathic doctor as part of your health team is important but I'll let one of my colleagues do that instead. He says it better than I ever could. Check out this blog post by Dr Justin Gallant ND
The good news is many private health plans now cover naturopathic SERVICES up to a certain amount. Admittedly, this amount is usually only enough to get you started with your naturopath. Lab work and prescribed remedies are not covered. With this in mind, I always do my darndest to ensure I am working within your means. Though my service fees are fixed for the time being (some NDs do sliding scale or take on a few patients a year at a reduced rate) I will always let you know where you can buy things the cheapest, offer alternatives or space out visits. I am also in the process of starting community acupuncture to make it more cost effective for patients. Don't be afraid to let your naturopathic doctor know that finances are tight, in fact we want to know these things.
Do you have questions about naturopathic medicine? You are most welcome to ask (there are no stupid questions) and I will be happy to answer in another blog post