519-821-2240
Guelph, ON Canada
Barbara McKinstry N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine





 
Welcome Naturopathic Medicine Homeopathic Medicine FAQs Health Tips Workshops Links Doc Barb Forms

Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1: Naturopathic Medicine
How is Naturopathic Medicine different from regular medicine?
The word 'natural' is used so often these days, what exactly do you mean by natural?
What are the kinds of treatments that naturopathic doctors use?
Why are naturopathic doctors trained in so many different types of treatment?
Why do you define regular medicine as 'allopathic'?
What training do naturopathic doctors receive?
What does regulated mean?
How can I tell if someone is a qualified naturopathic doctor?
Why do you call yourselves doctors? I thought only medical doctors could use that title?
Who visits naturopathic doctors?
What kinds of health problems can naturopathic doctors help with?
But I've heard that naturopathy isn't based on science?
Don't naturopathic doctors push a vegetarian diet?
Do people come to a naturopath because they aren't having success with allopathic treatments?
Do you ever work with medical doctors?
What happens if I'm really sick and my naturopathic doctor can't help me?
What's the first appointment like?
Why do naturopathic doctors sell supplements out of their offices?
Are you part of the New Age movement?
Is naturopathic care covered by OHIP or health insurance?
How much does a visit cost?

Section 2: Homeopathic Medicine
What is homeopathy?
What's the difference between homeopathy and naturopathy?
Do homeopathic remedies cause side effects?
Do homeopathic remedies work slowly or quickly?
What is the responsibility of the patient who undertakes homeopathic treatment?

How is Naturopathic Medicine different from regular medicine?

It is fundamentally different in that it supports the body's ability to heal itself. Naturopathic doctors do not use drugs or surgery, preferring instead to treat the whole person and not just the presenting symptoms. They are trained to recognize when drugs and/or surgery are required and will readily refer such cases to other more appropriate medical facilities. Furthermore, naturopathic doctors understand that health is influenced by many factors. Psychological, environmental, nutritional, and physical factors each play an important role in health. No other health professional offers this co-ordinated approach.

Using the common cold as an example, allopathic or regular medicine would probably treat the cold with decongestants, cough suppressants and perhaps antibiotics if infection was suspected. In contrast, the naturopathic doctor would focus on supporting the immune system and increasing the cleansing processes by means of botanical medicines, simple massage, dietary supplements or changes,and lifestyle changes. Further to this, the naturopathic doctor would counsel the patient on preventing future colds and earlier detection. Return to Top of the page.

The word 'natural' is used so often these days, what exactly do you mean by natural?

Naturopathic doctors use the word 'natural' to mean the methods and medicines used support the body's normal processes. Drugs and surgery are not used. Return to Top of the page.

What are the kinds of treatments that naturopathic doctors use?

It may help to think about naturopathic practice visually. Picture a wheel. The center hub of the wheel is diagnosis, or assessment, and the first action a naturopathic doctor will take is to assess the patient. In Barbara's practice, thisusually comprises the first two appointments for up to two and a half hours. Additionally you will be asked to complete a 12 page questionnaire.

Surrounding that hub is a circle that shows the body's ongoing cycle of cleansing and rebuilding. Naturopathic practice focuses on helping this cycle. The body has normal processes for removing wastes from cells and tissues, however environmental pollution, poor diet, impaired digestion, and unhealthy lifestyle choices get in the way. Naturopathic medicine can re-balance the cleansing and rebuilding activities of the body.

Radiating out from the hub are the spokes, which represent therapies that doctors of naturopathic medicine use. These include: Clinical Nutrition, Botanical Medicines, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Lifestyle Counseling, and Physical Treatments. Return to Top of the page.

Why are naturopathic doctors trained in so many different types of treatment?

The therapies are taught and used together because they are all based on the same principles - they all assist the body's healing response, and they are often more effective when combined. Some naturopathic doctors continue their training after attaining their degree by interning with a specialist in one of the types of treatment listed above. Barbara for example spent another three years studying Homeopathy with a world renowned Homeopath. She then successfully wrote the fellowship examinations of the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy. She continues this process of professional development currently by studying advanced Homeopathic Medicine with another outstanding clinician, and a group of her colleagues. Return to Top of the page.

Why do you define regular medicine as 'allopathic'?

Allopathic means treating disease by using a substance antagonistic to the condition, such as antibiotics to treat an infection; or replaces something in the body, for example hormone replacement therapy to replace a hormone. Allopathic medicine is just one of many systems of medicine. It is however the one that is most common in North America. Throughout the world other forms of medicine are in daily use. In fact the World Health Organization has recommended and encourages the use of indigenous medicines in all cultures.

Take a person with a common cold for example. An allopathic doctor would treat with decongestants and cough suppressants for the symptoms, and antibiotics if bacterial infection was suspected. In contrast, the naturopathic doctor would focus on supporting the immune system and increasing the cleansing mechanisms. Furthermore, the naturopathic doctor would encourage and coach a client in building a healthy immune system to ward off future colds. Return to Top of the page.

What training do naturopathic doctors receive?

Like an allopathic doctor, dentist, or chiropractor, the naturopathic doctor first completes two years of pre-medical science studies at a university. Barbara herself actually completed a B.A. degree before taking the two additional years of pre-med sciences. The student then continues on to an approved naturopathic college such as the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

The first two years at the college focus on basic medical sciences and diagnosis. The last two years concentrate on naturopathic principles and therapeutics including extensive clinical practice in a supervised teaching clinic.

Graduates from the program must pass rigorous and standardized board examinations supervised by a government appointed regulatory board. Successful completion of the exams qualifies naturopathic doctors to be licensed in Ontario.

Naturopathic doctors are currently regulated in four provinces and eleven states: Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Utah. Return to Top of the page.

What does regulated mean?

Regulation protects the public interest by ensuring that credentials like N.D. (meaning Naturopathic Doctor) are used only by those qualified to do so. This means that the person has completed an approved program of study, passed formal examination, and is licensed to practice.

Regulation also means that there are exacting standards of practice. All regulated health professionals have boards or colleges that have the authority to grant or revoke licenses and discipline practitioners when appropriate. Return to Top of the page.

How can I tell if someone is a qualified naturopathic doctor?

You can call the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy - Naturopathy to confirm if someone is licensed. Their number is 416-236-4593. Alternatively you can call the Ontario Naturopathic Association for a referral to a licenced naturopath. Their number is 416-233-2001. Return to Top of the page.

Why do you call yourselves doctors? I thought only medical doctors could use that title?

In Ontario, the title 'doctor' can legally be used by medical doctors, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, and psychologists as a title. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that regulates naturopathic doctors but does not grant them use of the title. However this will be changing in the near future. Until then, naturopathic doctors will continue to call themselves 'NDs'. Return to Top of the page.

Who visits naturopathic doctors?

People of all ages and with a variety of health concerns. Some people who are generally healthy visit naturopathic doctors in order to learn ways of preventing illness and optimizing health. Some people with symptoms that are not easily diagnosed as a specific disease, come to naturopathic doctors. Return to Top of the page.

What kinds of health problems can naturopathic doctors help with?

Naturopathic care can be helpful with many conditions such as fatigue, headaches, skin conditions, digestive difficulties, menstrual complaints, menopause, depression, sleeplessness, dizziness, constipation. It can be particularly helpful for conditions such as arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel, exema, psoriasis, acne, and many serious chronic illnesses, or recurrent colds and flu - in cases like these, simulating the body's natural healing processes is very important. Another very common ailment treated naturopathically is childhood ear infections. Return to Top of the page.

But I've heard that naturopathy isn't based on science?

On the contrary, the effectiveness of much naturopathic medicine is backed up by solid controlled studies. But more importantly, naturopathic treatments have a long history of clinical effectiveness. Consider for a moment that less than 20% of allopathic procedures have been clinically verified either. Yet allopathic clinical experiences demonstrate effectiveness. Similarly with naturopathic medicine. Return to Top of the page.

Don't naturopathic doctors push a vegetarian diet?

There are many factors that determine the correct diet for an individual such as age, activity level, stress, disease, medical history, among others. Looking at all these factors, as well as the client's personal food preferences, a naturopathic doctor will simply suggest diet changes. Return to Top of the page.

Do people come to a naturopath because they aren't having success with allopathic treatments?

Frequently. And as well to complement allopathic treatment. Often, individuals come to a naturopathic doctor first, who in turn directs the client to the appropriate health care provider. Return to Top of the page.

Do you ever work with medical doctors?

Yes. I receive referrals from allopathic doctors. I have allopathic doctors as clients. And I frequently refer clients to allopathic doctors. Part of our training as naturopathic doctors is to know under what situations we should refer. Unfortunately, the same training is not provided to allopathic doctors.

Allopathic doctors are of course concerned about their client's health but they may not be in a position to give a reliable opinion on the benefits of naturopathic care because they've not had personal experience.

If a client is seeing both a naturopathic and allopathic doctor, I encourage the client to open lines of communication between the two professionals. Return to Top of the page.

What happens if I'm really sick and my naturopathic doctor can't help me?

Your naturopathic doctor will refer you to the appropriate care giver. Return to Top of the page.

What's the first appointment like?

With most naturopathic doctors, the first appointment (and perhaps even the second) is one to one and a half hours in duration. During this visit, you describe your health history and the specific condition (if there is one). Often the naturopathic doctor will conduct tests or a physical examination as well. You will discuss life style, diet, working environment, exercise regimen, and your emotional life.

Based on all this material, the naturopathic doctor will outline an ideal treatment plan to which you will respond. Through discussion, a plan will be formulated and decided on.

Subsequent visits are used to monitor progress on the treatment plan. As such, they tend to be shorter in duration, between 25 and 50 minutes depending on the ailment. Return to Top of the page.

Why do naturopathic doctors sell supplements out of their offices?

The prescribing and compounding of botanical, homeopathic, and nutritional substances by naturopathic doctors is an integral part of their practice. Dispensing and selling developed because there were no other consistent reliable sources in the broader community. Even today these products are not widely available.

Dispensing from naturopathic doctors offices ensures access to high quality products and professional guidance in their use.

In order to prevent conflict of interest our regulatory board has established guidelines that limit distribution to naturopathic patients, and establish a reasonable cost. Return to Top of the page.

Are you part of the New Age movement?

If you mean is naturopathic medicine part of a spiritual or religious group or affiliation, or a cult, then the answer is no. If you mean does naturopathic medicine represent a return to methods that are more respectful of the natural world and recognize an inherent order in life, then yes. Return to Top of the page.

Is naturopathic care covered by OHIP or health insurance?

The Province of Ontario does not extend coverage to naturopathic doctors; however many employee benefit packages include coverage. Generally this comes in two flavors either (a) the insurance company will pay up to a certain amount per year or (b) the insurance company will pay a certain amount per visit. Return to Top of the page.

How much does a visit cost?

Each practitioner decides on the fee schedule. Generally the hourly rate is between $ 50 and $ 250. Return to Top of the page.

Section 2: Homeopathic Medicine

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy was developed in the 1700's by Dr. Samuel Hahneman based on the principle of "like cures like".

The simplified explanation is that a substance that in large quantities produces symptoms in a healthy person can relieve similar symptoms when used in very small quantities in a sick person. When prepared in a specific manner, these substances stimulate the body's normal healing processes. Return to Top of the page.

What's the difference between homeopathy and naturopathy?

Homeopathy is one of the therapies that a naturopathic doctor may choose to use. They are trained and examined in homeopathy. Some naturopathic doctors extend their training in homeopathy after graduation as naturopathic doctors by studying as an intern with an established homeopath. Optionally the intern may write the board examinations of the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy to become a recognized "fellow". This is the course that Barbara took. As such she has specialized in homeopathy. Return to Top of the page.

Do homeopathic remedies cause side effects?

The term side effect of a medicine comes from modern pharmaceuticals. These drugs are aimed at one area of the body such as the cardiovascular system, the gut, the kidneys etc. Though they have a primary area of action, they also affect other areas of the body. If these other effects are undesirable they are known as adverse side effects. For example Streptomycin is an excellent anti-tuberculosis agent; however it has been known to cause deafness. The deafness is an adverse side effect.

Homeopathic remedies are not employed against one area or organ of the body. The homeopathic remedy is chosen because it matches as closely as possible the totality of symptoms of the patient. Side effects such as tissue destruction do not take place. Return to Top of the page.

Do homeopathic remedies work slowly or quickly?

Both. In acute illnesses, the appropriate remedy will act within minutes. In chronic conditions the action is slower to appear. For example, it is common to observe a child with a hot throbbing inflamed ear who has been howling in pain drop off to sleep within a few minutes after taking a homeopathic remedy. On the other hand, a patient with goitre will take months to cure. Generally for every year of illness it will take a month of treatment! Return to Top of the page.

What is the responsibility of the patient who undertakes homeopathic treatment?

Of all the symptoms a patient may have, the homeopath observes only about 10%. The remaining 90% of the symptoms must be reported to the homeopath by the patient. As such it is important that the patient learn to observe themselves and their life in a manner that is uncommon for most people. For example, reporting to the homeopath that you feel 'bad' is of no use. Instead, reporting that you feel 'shooting slivers of white heat racing up the skin of your right forearm' is excellent reporting.

Another responsibility of the patient is to avoid expectations of quick fixes. Although sometimes astounding quick results do take place, these should not be expected. Particularly in chronic illnesses the patient must be prepared to wait. In the process of improving the patient's health through strengthening of the vitality, the symptoms may in fact worsen temporarily. Usually this is short lived and an opportunity to consult with your homeopath; but not to scurry back to allopathic medicine for a 'magic bullet'. Occasional use of over the counter pain medications will not adversely affect the homeopathic remedy; but prolonged use of pain relievers or use of tranquilizers, antibiotics, and especially cortisone will antidote the homeopathic remedy.

Homeopathic treatment is very demanding of the homeopath. The reason the first appointments are lengthy is so that the homeopath can know the patient in depth and subtlety. The physician must select from hundreds of remedies the one that most exactly matches the patient's set of symptoms, which in most cases means personality. It is not an easy task. No homeopath finds the correct remedy after one appointment with every patient. Especially since so much depends on the patient's reporting capabilities as mentioned above.

Once the correct remedy has been found, which may not be apparent to the patient, there will be ups and downs in terms of symptoms. A curative response does not mean the disappearance of all symptoms all at once! The careful homeopath is reluctant to treat again very soon once signs of increasing vitality are observed. Especially for chronic conditions that have developed over many years, repeating a treatment too soon will set back the healing process significantly. It is at this time the patient must have patience (of course, that's why they are called patients) and refrain from demands to 'do something'. Return to Top of the page.

Webmaster
Copyright Barbara McKinstry
Being Healthy Is Your Best Investment