A: It can seem confusing as these terms sound very similar. However these titles are not interchangeable. A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is a regulated primary care practitioner who is trained to diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness. A Bachelor’s degree, and standard, premedical courses at an accredited university are required before attending a 4 year professional, in-residence doctoral program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.
This is the only accrediting body for Naturopathic medical programs in Canada that qualify graduates for regulation or licensure as an ND. The first two years of naturopathic school covers the basic biomedical sciences similar to that of conventional medical school. The latter two years focus on clinical education in natural modalities like acupuncture, botanicals, soft tissue manipulation and other physical therapies. After completing this intensive program, graduates must also pass the North American standardized board exams. Only then, are they a fully qualified Naturopathic Doctor with the ND designation after their name.
However, Naturopaths have no standardized or accredited curriculum; or supervised clinical experience. There are numerous programs typically offered online or via correspondence which vary from a few months or a few years to complete. Graduates taking these programs are not eligible to write the North American standardized board exams and will not qualify for ND regulation or licensure. Visits are not covered by most extended health insurance plans with a Naturopath as they are for NDs.
Homeopaths focus on homeopathy; using remedies made from plant, animal or mineral micro-dose dilutions to treat illness. Homeopathy is an energetic healing modality where the body’s vital force is stimulated to heal itself. NDs may use homeopathic remedies as one of the many tools to treat patients. In Ontario, Homeopaths are not required to have a university degree, and visits are not commonly covered by most extended health insurance plans while ND visits are.