Naturopath scope of practice

ACMA Scope of practice for naturopaths #


Every governing Naturopathic body, whether an Association or College, is responsible for upholding the registration and discipline of practitioners. In addition to this, these organizations are also tasked with creating bylaws, Codes of Ethics as well as Standards of Practice within each province they reside in.


Even if naturopathy is not regulated in the province of Quebec, ACMA association accepts naturopaths as members based on the following standards: “Admission for Naturopaths


It is a professional duty for naturopathic members to not administer any proposed diagnostic or therapeutic procedure beyond their scope of practice, knowledge, skills and judgment. If it does fall outside those parameters, practitioners should abstain from using the diagnosis or intervention professionally.



Naturopathic physicians are uniquely qualified to provide a wide range of services and treatments, known as the “scope of practice”. This includes:

  • established through the legislated definition of naturopath and restricted activities; and
  • further articulated by Standards, Limits and Conditions set by ACMA.
  • Under the Regulation, a registrant of ACMA may practice naturopathy, which is defined as “the health profession in which a person provides the services of prevention, assessment and treatment of an individual’s diseases, disorders and conditions using education and naturopathic techniques, therapies or therapeutics to stimulate or support healing processes and promote, maintain or restore the overall health of the individual.


Scope of Practice Standards #


The Scope of Practice Standards provide naturopaths with a comprehensive outline for activities they can carry out and establish the parameters that need to be evaluated before engaging in said tasks.

  1. Naturopaths are held to a high standard of accountability for any decision made in regards to their patient’s wellbeing, subsequently doing all that is within the scope of practice and necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.
  2. Naturopaths ensure that the activity they will perform is:
    • Within the scope of practice for naturopaths;
    • In the best interest of their patient’s health;
    • Consistent with other Canadian naturopathic standards of practice including standards, limits, and conditions;
    • Within the naturopath’s individual competence.


  1. Naturopaths ensure they possess the necessary qualifications to effectively and safely do the following:
    • Make decisions about whether the patient would benefit from the activity, having considered:
      • the known risks and benefits to the patient;
      • the predictability of outcomes of performing the activity;
      • other relevant factors specific to the patient or situation.
    • Carry out the activity safely and ethically;
    • Safely manage the intended and unintended outcomes of performing the activity.


  1. Naturopaths are conscious of their own values, beliefs, and experiences in regards to decision-making; they also acknowledge any potential conflicts and take action for the patient’s utmost benefit.


  1. Naturopaths rely on a blend of both empirical evidence and expert insight to dictate the course of action they take in regards to patient treatment.



  1. Naturopaths follow a clinical decision-making process to:
    • Assess the patient’s health status;
      • Make a diagnosis of a patient condition that can be prevented, improved, ameliorated, or resolved through naturopathic doctor activities;
      • Determine a plan of care;
      • Determine an activity to be performed;
    • Implement an activity to prevent, treat, or palliate an illness or injury and/or improve, ameliorate, or resolve a condition;
    • Manage the intended and unintended consequences of carrying out the activity
    • Manage and evaluate the outcomes of the activity.


  1. Naturopaths strive to ensure an informed, collaborative environment with their patients (or substitute decision-makers) regarding diagnoses and care plans so that the patient is actively participating in making decisions about the treatment that best suits them.


  1. Naturopaths collaborate with, or direct patients to, other health care practitioners when:
    • the needs of the patient exceed their scope of practice or individual competence; or
    • patient care would benefit from the expertise of other health care professionals.


  1. Before initiating any activity, naturopaths take into account a variety of resources and human/system factors to ensure the task is undertaken safely and that both intended & unintended results are factored in.


Standard of practice: Diagnostic testing #


Naturopaths in Canada (always check each province regulations first) use a variety of diagnostic testing techniques.


Primary diagnostic procedures: #


Naturopaths rely on various resources to formulate accurate diagnoses and assessments:

  1. Physical examination: The naturopathic doctor investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease or illness. S/he sometimes uses instruments including the stethoscope, specula, opthalmoscope, otoscope, etc.
  2. Laboratory testing: Conventional biochemical analysis of blood, saliva, stool, urine, hair, synovial fluid and other tissues for diagnosis of pathology, monitoring of care, and preventative screening. Examples of laboratory diagnosis include, but are not limited to: complete blood cell count (CBC), serum chemistries, urinalysis, and Pap smears.
  3. Imaging and electro-diagnosis reports: Reports regarding diagnostic ultrasounds, X-rays, endoscopic methods, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans and PET scans, electrocardiographic (ECG), electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and plethysmography.
  4. Non-diagnostic procedures for information-gathering only: Non-diagnostic procedures include in-clinic ultrasound, applied kinesiology, biological impedance analysis, biological terrain analysis, cardiovision, computerized regulation thermography, darkfield microscopy, electro-dermal screening, and iridology. A diagnosis may not be made as the sole result of a non-diagnostic procedure. Information-gathering procedures may only be used to supplement primary diagnostic procedures.


The practice of naturopath #


In their practice, naturopaths do one or more of the following: #


  1. promote health, prevent illness and treat disease by using natural therapies and substances that promote the body’s ability to heal,


  1. focus on the overall health of the individual on the basis of naturopathic assessment and common diagnostic procedures, teach, manage and conduct research in the science, techniques and practice of naturopathic medicine, and


  1. provide restricted activities authorized by the regulations.


  1. but they are not entitled to prescribe or administer drugs, anesthetics, practice medicine, surgery or midwifery.


  1. “naturopathy” means a drugless system of therapy that treats human injuries, ailments, or diseases, by natural methods, including any one or more of the physical, mechanical, or material, forces or agencies of nature, and employs as auxiliaries for such purpose the use of body manipulations, dietetics, electro-therapy, hydrotherapy, or by any similar method.




Skip to toolbar