From the CBC’s Almanac Program, April 29, 2013

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. (That’s according to Statistics Canada.) If you want to lower your risk, the usual advice is to see your physician.  Well a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal gives surprising evidence that maybe you should see a naturopath instead. House doctor Brian Goldman is here with the details:

Almanac: What’s the difference between the kind of medicine you practice and naturopathic medicine?

Goldman: As a physician, I practice some preventive medicine, but the main focus of my work is to use my understanding of the causes of disease to diagnose and to treat it with medication, surgery, radiation and other forms of Western therapies.  Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary health care that promotes wellness and prevention of illness or disease.  As distinct from primary medicine, naturopathic medicine tries to address the root causes of illness and supports the body’s own natural ability to heal itself.  It uses a variety of techniques that include botanical medicine, physical medicine techniques like massage, acupuncture, clinical nutrition, lifestyle counselling, and sometimes a controversial method called homeopathic medicine.  Doctors of naturopathic medicine are trained at their own professional college.  In some provinces, they are regulated under provincial legislation (Alberta, BC, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan).

Almanac: How did naturopaths stack up against regular doctors in the study?

Goldman: Researchers enrolled nearly two hundred and fifty members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for a yearlong study to see how naturopathic lifestyle counselling would stack up against routine care from a doctor.  The naturopathic doctors provided diet and lifestyle advice for patients to lose between two point three and four point six kilograms through a combination of calorie restriction and regular exercise.  They also dispensed evidence based natural health products such as omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre, coenzyme Q10, and other therapies as recommended at the discretion of the naturopathic doctor.  The results were impressive.  Those that received routine medical care plus naturopathic medicine did better on their blood pressure and cholesterol testing; they reduced their risk of heart disease by seventeen per cent.  Those who had routine doctor care alone increased their risk of heart disease.  In absolute terms, for every one hundred people treated with naturopathic medicine, over a ten-year period, three heart attacks or strokes would have been prevented.

Almanac: Why was naturopathic medicine successful at reducing the risk of heart disease?

Goldman: It would be tempting to say that it was the omega-3 fatty acid or the coenzyme Q10 or something else.  But the study wasn’t designed to prove that sort of thing in such fine detail.  It was the entire basket of treatments that made up the naturopathic approach that made the difference.  For all we know, it may have been the increased exercise and weight loss that played the biggest role in lowering the risk of heart disease.  Family doctors are more than capable of dispensing that advice too.  So maybe the patients did well because the naturopaths were practising medicine. But the bottom line is that approach taken by the naturopathic doctors worked.

Almanac: What are critics saying about the study?

Goldman: For one thing, since other therapies may have been provided by the naturopath but not included in the study, it’s possible one of these undocumented treatments reduced the heart disease risk.  Another criticism is that the way the study was set up; naturopaths spent a total of four hours per patient counselling them on how to reduce their risk of heart disease over the course of the one-year study.  For a family doctor, that’s a staggering amount of time to spend with one patient talking prevention.  Critics have said that if family doctors had been given that amount of extra time to spend with each patient, their results might be just as good as naturopaths.

Almanac: How does this study change the debate over the value of naturopathic and other forms of complementary medicine?

Goldman: In an editorial, the CMAJ said complementary alternative therapies are frequently and legitimately criticized for failing to subject its methods to scientific scrutiny.  And yet,  when they publish studies (like this one), the journal gets criticized by mainstream doctors. The journal says physicians have a right to demand that complementary medicine be held to same standards of scientific proof as medicine itself – but no higher.  After that, any objections to the right of naturopathic doctors to practice is just politics.  The fact that Canadians are going to naturopaths in increasing numbers suggests they’re looking for something from them that don’t get from their regular doctors.

Free Naturopathic Clinic in BC

The Family Naturopathic Clinic, or FNC, is the only one of its kind in Canada: a free medical clinic serving young adults and children in a lower income group who can’t afford the services of naturopathic doctors.

Funded entirely by donations, the FNC is a joint project of licensed NDs at Acacia Integrative Clinic in Victoria and the Boucher Institute, western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic college.  FNC doctors and students work together as part of an outreach program to serve patients in need in the south Vancouver Island.  All visits are free.  The FNC has been in operation since 2007.

Visits include a detailed history, physical exam and assessment. Therapies may include nutritional and lifestyle counseling, stress management, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine and other modalities.

During May of this year the FNC is hosting a fundraising raffle to support the outreach program and pay for medical supplies.  Prizes include a hotel stay at the Grand Pacific in Victoria, dinner for two at Pagliacci’s and a kayaking lesson for two from Victoria Waterfront Tours.

Help support the FNC by buying a ticket.  You can purchase one in person at Acacia Integrative Health (101-391 Tyee Road) or Hemp & Company (1102 Government Street), or enter to win by making a donation at the FNC website:

If you would like more information about the clinic, or wish to make an appointment, please visit their website or call them at 250 580 3621.

Top 5 Reasons to Ban Cosmetic Pesticides

by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer (reprinted with permission from

1. No one should have to worry about children playing in the grass

Children are at greater risk from pesticide exposure than adults because they play closer to the ground and their bodies are still developing. Cosmetic pesticides can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or be swallowed when children place contaminated objects and their hands and in their mouths. Don’t forget about our pets too!

2. It’s a public health issue

There is a growing body of evidence linking pesticide exposure with certain types of cancer, including childhood leukemia and childhood brain cancer.

3. They’re not necessary

Cosmetic pesticides are used to make lawns, gardens and other green spaces look better. We call them ‘cosmetic’ because some think they improve the appearance of lawns and gardens. Regardless, they are not needed for health and safety. Safe and effective alternatives exist.

4. Pesticides don’t stop at the garden gate

Your family can be indirectly exposed even if you do not use cosmetic pesticides. If sprayed, cosmetic pesticides can drift through the environment and mix with the air, soil, or water. Pesticides may even collect on plants & objects we don’t intend to spray.

5. British Columbians support a ban

– 40 municipalities have cosmetic pesticide restrictions

– More than 70% of British Columbians support provincial legislation to restrict pesticide use

– 76% of British Columbians are aware of the link between pesticides & cancer

We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.

How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides.

Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.

Joyce Murray Supports Naturopathic Medicine

The federal Liberal party will select a new leader in just a matter of weeks. 

Although there are several candidates running, the front runners are Trudeau and Murray.  The voting process for a leader involves “first” and “second” and “third” choices. In the process of voting it’s highly likely that the successful candidate is not the front runner.

While BCNA is a provincial organization and doesn’t have a stake in the leadership race, we have in the past endorsed Joyce Murray for her strong support towards complementary medicine in general and specifically naturopathic medicine.  She has been a long term and tireless supporter for freedom of choice in health care and for greater recognition for licensed NDs to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

This YouTube video is Murray endorsing Naturopathic Medicine Week, an annual national health event, in federal parliament.

In fact, when Murray was working on her university degree, it was her intention to attend naturopathic college.  But as she noted in a recent SFU interview:

“I did pre-medical undergraduate work at SFU, and I never completed my degree, because I began building a tree-planting business, and that…started to grow very quickly, and I had to make a choice.  So consequently I didn’t—I never continued on my intended path, which was naturopathic medicine… then I went back as a mature student in 1989 and I did an executive MBA program at Simon Fraser.”

If you are considering making a political donation this year, please consider contributing to Murray’s campaign.  Maybe you know a group of like-minded people that would support her platform and want to hold a small dinner, or casual fundraiser, or would like to donate directly: Any amount would be much appreciated.  In addition, tax incentives on political donations are quite generous  For example, a $400 donation provides a 75 per cent tax deduction; so, in the end, a $400 donation only “costs” a person $100.

For more information visit; for donations, and to tabulate your tax credit, choose the donate tab.

Naturopathic Medicine Week 2013

BC Naturopathic Medicine Week

May 6 – 12, 2013

Join the BC Naturopathic Association as it celebrates 90 years of advancing primary care in 2013. Naturopathic doctors, clinics, and schools will open their doors to the public for open houses, free doctor visits, seminars, and more.

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Subscribe to our blog to receive event invitations by email.

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BC Naturopathic Medicine Week will also be featured on the BCNA’s official Twitter and Facebook page.

Become A Sponsor

Contact Us

Last year, other local businesses that support healthy lifestyles teamed up with their naturopathic neighbours. There was a Ladies Night Out health expo at a pharmacy in Victoria, a Tasting Day featuring free samples from a bakery and health food store in Campbell River, and Free Seminars and ‘Meet the Doctor’ consultations at grocery stores, yoga studios, and a herbal dispensary. If your business is interested in hosting an event or providing free samples or other goodies, please contact us!

More Information

Visit the BC Naturopathic Medicine Week page for more information.

Sharing is Caring

Click on the share button to the left of this article to tell the world about this upcoming event!

BC Doctor Speaking at Film Festival

Some folk run for fun, some for the competition, others find inner peace and spirituality in running.  BCNA member Dr. Pushpa Chandra is a woman of small stature and great accomplishments.  She has run in some of the most harsh conditions on some of the most difficult terrain on the planet.  This year, at the 16th Annual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, Dr. Chandra has been chosen as a guest speaker to highlight her running career.  On February 10 at the North Vancouver Centennial Theatre, Pushpa will share some images from her running adventures to Antarctica and the North Pole and interpret how these accomplishments have changed her perspectives on life.

Female World Record Holder for Antarctica Run 

Dr. Pushpa Chandra is a 55-year-old Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor, Ironman Triathlete and ultramarathon runner.  To celebrate her 50th birthday in 2008, she decided to run trails on all seven continents and participate in some of the most extreme running events in the world including: The Mount Everest Marathon, the Open African Safari, the Antarctica 100 km and the North Pole marathon.  She was the first Canadian to run at both the North Pole and in Antarctica, and her accomplishments include overall female winner of 2009 North Pole Marathon and female world record holder of the Antarctica 100 km.  Pushpa’s inspirational stories have been featured on CBC National TV, CBC Radio, CTV , The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight , Shared Vision, Global TV and The Globe and Mail.

Naturopathic Medicine and Cancer

Across the province, patients undergoing standard cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are seeking out naturopathic doctors (NDs) for adjunctive care.  Many of the immune-supporting therapies NDs provide can help patients recover from cancer treatment faster and support overall health.  Commonly called “adjunctive” cancer therapy, NDs focus on decreasing negative side effects of conventional treatment; balancing a patient’s immune system; and providing concrete strategies for cancer prevention and health maintenance.

The protocols and therapies NDs employ may include botanical medicine (herbs, plants and plant extracts), clinical nutrition (using nutrition not to simply modify diet but prevent disease and improve overall health), as well as physical modalities, Asian medicine, homeopathy and counselling.  Some NDs work closely with oncologists and others in the cancer community to facilitate patient care.

However, navigating the diverse range of adjunctive cancer care available can be daunting.  Fortunately, BCNA member Dr. Neil McKinney has published the second edition of his Naturopathic Oncology: An encyclopedic guide for patients and physicians.  Dr. McKinney’s book has proven to be a very popular and practical guide to clinical success with cancer treatments.  His revised edition adds new therapies, refinements of protocols, expanded references and builds on his personal expertise focused on cancer care and advanced scholarship.  The comprehensive text outlines very detailed protocols to integrate support for surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted adjunctive therapies.  It also goes into all the leading naturopathic medicines for a wide range of cancers, for complications and co-morbidities, as well as cancer emergencies.  Doctors find it a practical resource, as well as providing detailed information on mechanisms of action, scientific references and examples of protocols that have actually worked with cancer patients.  But while it is a succinct handbook for practicing clinicians, it’s also a useful resource for patients who are looking for qualitative information on alternatives and support to standard medical care, and a better understanding of the options available outside of common treatments.

Naturopathic Oncology: An encyclopedic guide for patients and physicians

by Dr. Neil McKinney

Tel. 888-722-4401

ISBN# 978-1-894953-98-6

Keep Writing Those Letters!

Keep Writing Those Letters!

A Naturopathic Patient Sent This Letter to Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid

The following is a copy of a letter sent to the BC Minister of Health on October 19.  When you write to the minister, please remember to copy to BCNA as well.  Thanks!

October 19th, 2012

Dear Hon. Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health

I wish to urge you to allow naturopathic doctors to access labs. My primary health care provider is a naturopathic doctor. This saves the health care system money because I am able to achieve a higher level of wellness through proactive lifestyle changes.

It frustrates me that my doctor is unable to access BC labs and is limited by the province from access to diagnostic tests — effectively undermining my doctor’s ability to provide care to me.

As a tax payer I am offended by the burden of costs that results from this policy. Each time I require a blood test, I make two unnecessary trips to a medical doctor. First, to have the test ordered; followed by a second appointment to get the test results (most medical doctors’ offices will not provide test results over the phone as they cannot bill for their time unless the patient comes into the office). These tasks could easily be done during my regular visits to my fully-trained naturopathic doctor; a doctor who can write my prescription but who is limited by the province from monitoring the impact of that prescription.

As a patient, I am among the 10 million Canadians* with a thyroid condition. It is standard medical practice to monitor patients with thyroid conditions through routine blood tests. In the past nine years I have had blood tests two to four times a year. Over the past nine years I estimate that I have had 22 blood tests. This has resulted in 44 unnecessary medical doctor visits, billed to government – a considerable unnecessary cost to the health care system. I am just one patient among the many in this province who choose a naturopathic doctor as their primary care provider; the overall savings to the health care system would be tremendous.

Please make good on your government’s promise in the 2008 throne speech and give Naturopathic Doctors full access to BC labs. It makes sense for improving patient care. It makes sense for reducing costs on the health care system. It just makes good sense and good policy.



Sharing is Caring: Support Your ND

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In 2008 the current Liberal government made a pledge to ensure that publicly funded and privately owned medical laboratories in BC were accessible to licensed naturopathic doctors. Unfortunately, that pledge has not been acted on.

Please Ask the BC Government To Keep Their Promise

With an election on the horizon, and a recent cabinet shuffle, we are asking patients of naturopathic doctors across BC to write to the health minister and/or their MLA.

Write Your Local MLA or the Health Minister

Click the button below for a sample letter, mailing address and more.<br/ >
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BC Naturopathic Doctors Need Your Help

In 2008 the current Liberal government made a pledge to ensure that publicly funded and privately owned medical laboratories in BC were accessible to licensed naturopathic doctors.  Unfortunately, that pledge has not been acted on.

Please Ask the BC Government To Keep Their Promise

With an election on the horizon, and a recent cabinet shuffle, we are asking patients of naturopathic doctors across BC to write to the health minister and/or their MLA.

Write Your Local MLA or the Health Minister

Mailing Address:

Hon Dr Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health
Room 346, Parliament Buildings
Victoria  BC  V8V 1X4

Sample Letter:

Dear Minister,

I value the health care I receive from my naturopathic doctor (ND).  I am investing in my own health and expect my ND to be able to practice to the full extent of their education, training and expertise.  Unfortunately, arbitrary barriers in this province prevent my ND from having access to diagnostic tests. My taxes fund BC labs but my competent primary care provider cannot access them. This is not in my interest nor in the public interest—and it costs your government money.

In the 2008 Throne Speech, your government promised to remove barriers to NDs accessing labs but after several years this problem still has not been resolved. As we near the next election, your government has an opportunity to keep its promise, improve health care for all British Columbians and save health dollars.

Please advise me that you will keep your promise and that your government will act upon this Throne Speech commitment.

How You Can Help

Find Your MLA: you can find your local MLA at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia website The site lists MLA mailing addresses and email addresses. There is also a contact form at you can use to send them a message. Handwritten letters have the most impact (but an email is fine too!).

Thank You!

Please share this message and ask your network to show their support, too (click the green share button to the left of this article).