Naturopath medical practitioners in Alberta are now recognized under the Health Professions Act, Minister Fred Horne announced Wednesday.
The new regulation establishes the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta which sets doctor dos and don’ts for the 144 practitioners working in the province.
“More and more people are relying on the services of naturopathic doctors,” said Horne, “They can now be assured that the practitioner they visit has the competency and skills required to practice in Alberta.”
Dr. Allissa Gaul, naturopathic doctor in Calgary and founding president of the newly-established college, said the announcement marks a momentous day for the industry.
“Our symbol is a green leaf to reflect our fundamental belief in the healing power of nature,” said Gaul.
“We operate by naturopathic principals, we identify and treat causes, we first do no harm. We believe in educating patients and we believe in treating the whole body.”
The regulation allows naturopathic doctors to perform ear exams, injections, place herbs in nasal passages, and remove warts and moles.
If they undergo additional training at the college, doctors can provide other alternative treatments like acupuncture or chiropractic care.
The regulation forbids them, however, to prescribe drugs, administer intravenous nutrition and order x-rays and ultrasounds.
The minimum education requirement to become a naturopathic doctor is now three years of pre-medical education plus completion of a four-year program at a registered naturopathic college or university.
The government began revisions to the Health Professions Act to include naturopathy in 1998, said Horne, but the process takes longer for “non-traditional professions that aren’t the medical model proper.”
Alberta joins British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario who have already regulated naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic services are not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.