Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture is usually comfortable and relaxing. Many people even fall asleep during the treatment. For those who are needle-phobic, acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and cause little to no sensation on insertion. We use the very thinnest needles on new or sensitive patients. Alternatively, we can also use needleless pain-free techniques with laser or specific acupuncture cups

How does Chinese medicine and acupuncture work?

In conventional modern science, the mechanisms regarding how TCM and acupuncture works are still poorly understood. One perspective is that the meridians (the pathways that run though the human body along which acupuncture points are found) correspond with the distribution of nerves in the body. Since the nervous system controls all other systems of the human body (including endocrine, digestive, immune, reproductive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems), the stimulation of the nervous system would impact overall health.

Other theories suggest that acupuncture affects the fascia of the body. These are also more physical-based forms of acupuncture, such as “trigger point needling” or “dry needling”, which helps to release tight underlying connective tissue. We offer this form of acupuncture as well usually for pain or mobility issues.

At the Thornhill Naturopathic Health Clinic our acupuncture treatment plans are based on empirical evidence obtained through our TCM intake evaluation using TCM diagnostic principals, as well as evidence based scientific research. We ensure that our patients receive the safest, and most effective treatments available.

Are Chinese medicine and acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is remarkably safe. Both in general and for cancer patients. Serious problems arising from acupuncture are rare, and generally avoided by well-trained acupuncturists.

In Ontario, Registered Acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners are regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO) and at the basic level must have at least around 2000 hours of training (usually 3 years).

For cancer patients specifically, Dr. Betty Rozendaal ND R.Ac , a naturopathic doctor, who is also a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist, has additional training in cancer-focused acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Only high-quality, sterile, single-use disposable needles are used, following official Clean Needle Technique. We use a variety of needling and non-needle techniques according to each patient’s specific situation, comfort, and safety requirements. We also use the latest available scientific evidence to make sure our herbal and dietary recommendations do not interact negatively with other medications, including chemotherapy drugs or hormone therapy.


What’s the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

Naturopathic Medicine is a health care system that that combines the use of current medical diagnostic tools and laboratory testing  with philosophies of individualized naturopathic medicine and natural healing using a variety of naturopathic treatment modalities including herbal and Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nutritional and lifestyle counselling. Naturopathic Doctors also receive training in homeopathy and the use of homeopathic remedies. 

Homeopathy is a natural treatment that uses highly diluted doses of substances made from plants, minerals or animals to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism to promote health. Classically trained Homeopaths use one carefully chosen remedy to treat all the patient’s symptoms. The homeopathic remedy is selected based on the total picture of the patient including physical. Lifestyle, mental emotional states and other factors.


Can naturopaths prescribe medication?

Naturopathic Doctors typically treat illness, disease prevention and health promotion using naturopathic tools which include acupuncture, botanical and Chinese herbal treatments, homeopathy, nutrition counselling and physical medicine.  Naturopaths who are specifically trained and have passed the Ontario Prescribing and Therapeutics exam are qualified to prescribe therapeutic doses of oral and injectable supplements as well as bioidentical hormones and compounded  thyroid medication. Those ND’s practicing intravenous therapy are required to pass the Ontario Intravenous Infusion Therapy (IVIT) exam.

Can Mistletoe Therapy be used as a non-cancer treatment?

Yes, due to its immune modulating and anti-inflammatory effects, it has several non-cancer treatment applications including:

  1. Chronic Inflammatory Joint diseases
    • Degenerative joint disease
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Spinal pain syndromes
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Bechterew’s disease
    • Psoriatic arthritis
  2. Chronic Infection
    • Chronic hepatitis B and C
    • HPV infection, herpes simplex and herpes genitalis
    • Chronic relapsing infection (e.g. bronchitis, urinary tract infection)
    • Borreliosis/Lyme disease
  3. Immunological Disease
    • Neurodermatitis and other atopic disease
    • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Alopecia areata
  4. Gynecological diseases
    • Endometriosis
  5. Mental and Neurological diseases
    • Exhaustion depression
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Neuralgias, migraine
Do I need a referral to see a naturopath?

You do not need a referral to see a Naturopathic Doctor.

How do you assess if an individual is suffering from environmental illness?

Naturopathic doctors understand that no two people are alike due to genetic biochemical individuality. Based on this principle and utilizing a whole person approach, naturopathic doctors evaluate how each person’s environmental exposure may be influencing their health. In addition to toxic load, we evaluate genetic variations, nutrient deficiencies, stressors, dietary choices, microbiome status, vitality, and associated conditions that may influence your response to toxins.

Given that chronic illness is typically caused by many factors, we can help you identify which toxins or elements in the environment are interacting within the body. Many of the chemicals have a direct effect on a variety of tissues, leading to a potential cycle of oxidative stress and inflammation which can then cause metabolic, neurologic, hormonal and cellular changes leading to a rise in obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, reproductive disorders, and cancer.

The clinic uses several labs to test for environmental toxins and chemicals in the body. Toxins can be detected in urine, hair and blood.

Acute or chronic toxic metal and/ or environmental toxin exposure from pesticides, phthalates or other endocrine disrupting chemicals may be tested using urine.

The urine sample is sent to a special lab and the results are returned in the form of a detailed chart outlining exposure levels of toxins.

How does naturopathic medicine compare to conventional medicine?

The main differences between naturopathic and conventional medicine are the philosophical approach and the therapies used. Naturopathic doctors use a holistic approach to health by addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspects of health. This allows Naturopathic Doctors to find and treat the root cause of the disease using natural, non-invasive therapies. The goal is health promotion and disease prevention and to restore health for the long term. Conventional allopathic doctors generally address and treat the symptoms of disease and use pharmaceutical therapies or surgery to treat the illness or condition.

What is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is a health care system that combines natural forms of healing with modern scientific research. It offers a holistic approach to health care. Naturopathic treatments target both acute and chronic conditions. Treatments are chosen based on the individual patient including their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Naturopathy encompasses both conventional and naturopathic approaches for improving and maintaining patients’ health. We utilize basic and diagnostic sciences such as those below and use treatments which may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, and lifestyle counselling.

  • anatomy
  • clinical physiology
  • biochemistry
  • pathology
  • embryology
  • immunology
  • pharmacology
  • physical and clinical diagnosis
  • lab diagnosis

Naturopathic Practitioners are Regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act of Ontario 1991 (RHPA).

What are the principles of Naturopathic Medicine?

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine:

  • First, do no harm
  • Act in co-operation with the healing powers of nature
  • Address the fundamental cause of disease
  • Heal the whole person through individualized treatment
  • Teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine
What training do naturopaths receive?

Naturopathic Doctors are required to complete a minimum of seven years of post secondary education before they can be registered as a Naturopathic Doctor. This includes graduating with an undergraduate University degree, before entering into a four-year Naturopathic program at an accredited school of naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic education includes basic and diagnostic sciences – such as anatomy, clinical physiology, biochemistry, pathology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, and lab diagnosis – as well as conventional and naturopathic approaches to improving and maintaining patients’ health.

Graduates receive the title N.D. or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Following the completion of an accredited program, NDs must successfully complete standardized Entry to Practice Naturopathic Examinations in order to qualify for registration. ND’s are also required to pass the Ontario Prescribing and Therapeutics exam and the Ontario Intravenous Infusion Therapy (IVIT) exam in order to prescribe specific medication or practice Intravenous therapy. 

In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors are registered by College of Naturopaths of Ontario.  Practicing ND’s are required to compete at least 70 hours of approved continuing education to maintain provincial registration.  

What conditions does naturopathy treat?

Naturopathic Doctors are primary health care practitioners, and can treat a wide variety of health concerns, including acute and chronic health conditions using naturopathic philosophies and treatment options.

When do symptoms begin to improve after LDA treatments?

The effect of LDA can be almost immediate; however, the FULL benefit of LDA may require several treatments. Some patients with food allergy or intolerance may only notice sustained improvement after 3-6 doses, and severely reactive foods may take 2 years to become tolerable in moderate to large amounts.

The advantages of the treatment are that it is less invasive and does not require frequent dosing. With food intolerances (and allergies), the long-term outcome is to allow an individual with these sensitivities to eat these foods without the reactions. This is especially helpful when the intolerances are of those foods that are often “hidden” in our diet.

Dr. W. A. Shrader is one of the discoverers of this therapeutic technique and has completed a variety of clinical and preclinical investigations to explore its efficacy. Visit his website at to learn more about this therapeutic modality.

What are environmental and toxic exposures?
Air, water and soil have become increasingly contaminated over the last 30 years.

  1. Air pollution that you inhale goes far beyond the lungs, it extends to the blood stream and every cell in the body. Poor outdoor and indoor air quality have the potential to harm the nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Most people spend more time indoors than outside which is why nearly 90% of your exposure to air pollution will be at home or at work.
    Common indoor air pollution sources include:

    • Volatile organic chemicals: from paint, carpeting and under padding, hard wood flooring, bathroom and other sealants used in construction and renovations, air fresheners, laundry products, personal grooming products, dry cleaning and furnishings
    • Formaldehyde: found in plywood and chipboard, solid wood and laminate wood
    • Dust and allergens: from pets, dust, molds. Pests
    • Combustion products: from smoking candles, fireplaces and stoves, attached garages
  2. Water Pollution: Our body is composed of about 70% water; therefore, it is essential to drink clean, pure water for optimal health. Primary sources of contamination are from agricultural, industrial and geological sources and major pollutants have been linked to cardiovascular disease, infertility and hormone disruption, nervous system damage, developmental defects and cancer.
  3. Electromagnetic Radiation: Studies have suggested that exposure to EMF radiation from WIFI and other sources can cause oxidative stress, hormonal changes such as lowered female and male fertility, neurological/ neuropsychiatric effects, such as burning, body aches and brain fog and cellular DNA damage. These mechanisms increase inflammation in the body and therefore can lead to chronic diseases.
  4. Toxic metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and aluminum have a number of harmful effects on the body. They can also tie up binding sites so essential minerals can’t get into the cells. The most common example of this is in the case of mercury which is found in fish and dental amalgam fillings and cadmium found in cigarettes. Both these metals can result deficiencies in certain nutrients. 

    Many toxic elements have been implicated in gastrointestinal issues, for example canned fruit juices contaminated with zinc and or tin have led to chronic gastrointestinal issues, other elements that can cause chronic GI symptoms include chromium, phosphorus, copper, iron and vanadium.

    High toxic accumulation of metals found in water, food, common household products and certain cookware can contribute to Parkinson’s disease, anemia, allergies, hair loss, appetite changes, hyperactivity, low thyroid activity, headaches, skin conditions, constipation, learning disabilities and depression.

    Other environmental contaminants include PCB’s, Bisphenol –A, Phthalates, Dioxins, Furans, fire retardants and Parabens which are commonly found in everything from paints, food and beverage containers to personal care products such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing and pharmaceuticals. These chemicals can lower immunity, disrupt hormones, contribute to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and cause changes in behavior and memory in adults and children.

Who does Naturopathic medicine benefit?

Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for the following types of patients:

  • Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
  • Patients that have symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
  • Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness, whether it is serious or chronic, and are looking for alternative treatments.
  • Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments in order to minimize the side effects of drugs, surgery, chemotherapy or other conventional treatments.
  • Naturopathic medicine can be beneficial to improve the quality of life for those with serious and life-threatening illnesses.
Are Naturopath appointments covered by OHIP?

Naturopathic visits are currently NOT covered by OHIP. However, the costs of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist or Massage Therapist are covered under most extended Health Benefit Plans.

New Patients

What can I expect at the initial assessment?

Your initial naturopathic assessment will be 90 minutes. At this appointment, we will review your initial intake form which you will have received and filled out prior to your first appointment. In the first half of the assessment, we will discuss your health concerns, health goals, medical history, current medication and supplements and your current diet and lifestyle history and health risk factors. We will also review any medical tests that you have brought in. In the next half of the assessment, the naturopathic doctor will focus on a doing a health oriented physical exam, in clinic functional terrain assessments to assess common degenerative conditions and discuss next steps and treatment options to address the root cause of the heath concern.  Treatment for your health concern will often start in this initial appointment or may be postponed until the second appointment if additional testing or information is required.  

How are naturopaths, acupuncturists, massage therapists , homeopaths and social workers regulated in Ontario?

In Ontario:

Naturopathic Doctors are regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.

Acupuncturists are regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario.

Massage Therapist are regulated by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario.

Homeopaths are regulated by the College of Homeopaths of Ontario.

Social Workers are registered by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers.

Naturopathic Education encompasses both conventional and naturopathic approaches for improving and maintaining patients’ health. We utilize basic and diagnostic sciences such as:

  • anatomy
  • clinical physiology
  • biochemistry
  • pathology
  • embryology
  • immunology
  • pharmacology
  • physical and clinical diagnosis
  • lab diagnosis