By Susan Poizner
Special to The Toronto Sun
People grappling with health problems today have more choices than ever. They can turn to their general practitioner for help. Or they can seek treatment from a baffling array of alternative therapists, including acupuncturists, homeopaths, and practitioners of Chinese medicine.
Naturopath Iva Lloyd enjoys
using holistic medicine to make a
difference in people's lives.
The problem is that trying the different approaches with different practitioners to see which ones work can waste precious time and money. Another option is to go to a naturopathic doctor, who is fully trained in these and many other healing techniques.
"A naturopathic doctor is a primary care practitioner who believes in the body's innate ability to heal itself and uses various natural modalities to bring it back to health," says Shawn O'Reilly, executive director of the Canadian Naturopathic Association.
Naturopaths integrate scientific knowledge with natural therapies, including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.
Theirs is a holistic approach, so practitioners will often spend up to an hour with new clients, getting to know them and their physical and emotional issues in order to decide which treatment -- or which combination of treatments -- will be appropriate.
Iva Lloyd, 38, intended to go into medicine when she went to university 15 years ago, but soon changed her mind.
"It seemed to me too black and white," Lloyd says. "It seemed to be about diseases and science and not about people."
After 15 years of building a successful career in the corporate world, she decided the time had come to turn back to the business of healing. In 1998, she began a four-year full-time course at the Canadian College of Naturopathic medicine in Toronto.
Working as a naturopath|
From $50,000 to $300,000
Bachelor of Science
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine offers Canada's only accredited four-year, full-time professional program. It includes 1,500 hours of clinical experience. Graduates must pass the North American NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination) before being able to practice.
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine: www.ccnm.edu
The Naturopathic Association: http://www.naturopathicassoc.ca/
Now Iva is busy using a holistic approach to make a difference in people's lives, such as the man she treated who had colon cancer and had had to undergo chemotherapy. Using diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and homeopathy, she turned his health around.
"Now he's fitter than he was before he was diagnosed," Lloyd says. "He sings in the church choir and he told me that he used to have trouble walking up the stairs to the church. Now it's no problem at all. He's changed his lifestyle and has a better appreciation for his own body."
About 900 licensed naturopathic doctors work in Canada, and about 500 students at the Canadian College for Naturopathic medicine will graduate within the next few years. But Shawn O'Reilly thinks there's lots of room for more practitioners.
"There have been naturopathic doctors in Canada since the 1920s, but interest waned when new conventional drugs were developed," she says. "Within the last five to 10 years it has come to the forefront again, as people look for alternatives to conventional medicine."
She herself was one of those people. "A few years ago I was burned out. I had shadows on my lungs. An allopathic doctor wanted me to take drugs. I went to a naturopathic doctor instead, and he cured me naturally in six months."
(Susan Poizner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a Toronto-based freelance writer.)
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