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Most Common Questions an ND Hears

As a naturopathic doctor (ND) in practice for almost 20 years, I often encounter the same three questions. If you are currently seeing an ND, or if you are looking to add one to your health-care team, you may find the following advice helpful.

“What Are Some of the Best Ways to Assess Health?”

Due to the prevalence and rise of diabetes and cholesterol in Canada, I suggest routine testing of blood sugar and lipid levels. In 2017 to 2018, 3.4 million Canadians were living with diabetes, in comparison to 1.3 million in 2000–2001.[i] Similar trends can be found for hypercholesterolemia. For many Canadians, these diseases can go undetected for years. Naturopathic doctors can assist with identifying and supporting these concerns with treatment and lifestyle interventions.

I also recommend testing kidney and liver function, as these tests measure the body’s ability to eliminate waste products. Also, a complete blood count (CBC) test screens for the number and health of immune-system cells and red blood cells. For those individuals who are fatigued or who often get sick, this is a good test to perform.

Like most NDs, I also like testing for vitamins and minerals including B₁₂, iron, and vitamin D. These are key nutrients that play an integral role in one’s health. Naturopathic doctors are also looking for optimal numbers when it comes to essential vitamins and nutrients. If numbers are on the lower end of the range, we can discuss ways through diet and supplementation to increase these values.

Naturopathic treatment is focused on prevention and optimal health. If you wake up every morning feeling fatigued, we want to know why.

If you are having trouble sleeping, we want to review lifestyle factors that might be associated with poor sleep quality. If you have low motivation or know your mood is affecting your relationships, we want to help you understand why this may be occurring. Lifestyle factors and inadequate nutrient levels may be playing a role.

For example, did you know a deficiency in vitamin D can be attributed to a decrease in quality of life? Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to:

Decreased muscle mass and strength [ii]

Osteoporosis [iii]

Depression [iv]

Poor sleep quality [v]

Poor immune response [vi]

Autoimmune diseases [vii]


“What Is Important for You to Know about My Health?”

The answer to this is everything. We want to know your medical history, your family’s medical history, your diet, and your health goals. We are also interested in basic bodily functions, such as: How often do you have a bowel movement? What time do you go to sleep? What is your sleep routine? What do you eat for breakfast? How is your mood?

The answers to these questions help a naturopathic doctor understand who you uniquely are. We are interested in what makes you different than everyone else. This assists an ND in identifying the best approach to treatment.

For example, I can have two patients coming to my office for the same health concern: hypertension. Patient #1 is fit, exercises daily, but has a family history of cardiovascular disease. Patient #2 is overly stressed at his job, eats poorly, and suffers from anxiety. From a naturopathic medicine perspective, patients #1 and #2 are going to be treated differently. They will be given an individualized treatment protocol based on what makes them different.

Therefore, whenever you are seeing an ND, it is important for them to get to know you. What are your habits? What makes you different? Do you like to drink six cups of coffee per day? Do you crave sugar daily? Do you like exercising in the morning? Do you feel anxious often? These factors have an impact on your overall health.

“How Can an ND Help Me Be Healthier?”

One of the main goals for a naturopathic doctor is to have a patient lead a healthy lifestyle and work towards preventative health. If diabetes or high cholesterol run in your family, we may want to take a closer look at your diet.

Does it include enough fibre? Is it high in trans fats and low in the good fats? Regular bloodwork allows us to have a better understanding of how certain factors can affect these levels, and I’ll often retest bloodwork after three months of implementing any lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.).

In addition, NDs will also look at trends. We can look at previous testing and make comparisons. What was your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in 2022, 2023, and this year? Are the levels the same or trending higher? If the levels are increasing, we want to know why. Is it a shift in diet, increased stress, or something else? If cholesterol levels are steadily moving higher every year but are still within normal limits, a treatment protocol can be recommended before the levels are out of range.

NDs can give you options about your health. They can answer questions related to most health concerns. They can help you better understand your current health status and discuss your health goals.

Do you have an ND as part of your health-care team? If not, you may want to consider the support of an ND to help you address many of your health concerns. Having a supportive, available resource for you and your family can have a huge impact on your overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Dr. Odessa Gill, ND

Dr. Gill has been in practice for 20 years and is the co-owner of a naturopathic clinic in Bloor West Village, Toronto. She has a focus on stress management, fertility, and hormonal health.



[i]     Government of Canada. Diabetes in Canada in review, 2021. Updated 2021‑12‑13.

[ii]     Kupisz-Urbańska,  M., P. Płudowski, and E.  Marcinowska‑Suchowierska. “Vitamin D Deficiency in Older Patients—Problems of Sarcopenia, Drug Interactions, Management in Deficiency.” Nutrients, Vol. 13, No.  4 (2021): 1247.

[iii]    Kupisz-Urbańska et al. op. cit.

[iv]    Mason, C., J. de D. Tapsoba, C. Duggan, C.‑Y. Wang, L. Korde, and A. McTiernan. “Repletion of vitamin D associated with deterioration of sleep quality among postmenopausal women.” Preventive Medicine, Vol. 93 (2016): 166–170.

[v]     Mason et al. op. cit.

[vi]    Martens, P.‑J., C. Gysemans, A. Verstuyf, and C. Mathieu. “Vitamin D’s Effect on Immune Function.” Nutrients, Vol. 12, No. 5 (2020): 1248.

[vii]   Martens et al. op. cit.