What type of lab testing do naturopathic physicians do?
Naturopathic doctors can order a range of tests depending on where they are practicing. This answer is based on scope of practice in British Columbia.
Naturopathic doctors can order any blood test that a medical doctor can (e.g. thyroid test, blood glucose, cholesterol, liver panel). On top of these conventional blood serum tests, naturopathic doctors can also order an array of specialty tests including but not limited to cortisol testing, food sensitivity testing, genetic testing, heavy metal testing, comprehensive stool analysis.
How does this benefit me?
The specialty tests can be administered and interpreted by a licensed naturopathic doctor and can tailor an individualized plan to treat the root cause of any condition the testing supports. These specialty tests are not necessarily offered by medical doctors.
Example: You may have a food sensitivity or bacterial overgrowth causing a lot of your thyroid issues but medical doctors may not offer that testing avenue.
Another benefit of getting lab testing through your naturopathic doctor is that the serum blood markers being tested may be more comprehensive than what the labs will run for medical doctors.
Example: You may have symptoms of an under-functioning thyroid and your MD tests your TSH and T4 levels. The labs will make a decision and run the TSH and if it's within the normal laboratory range (i.e. you are not diagnosable for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) then the T4 will not be run. However, if ordered through a ND the lab will run both TSH and T4 if requisitioned. (See the next question for why this is)
Is it covered?
Yes and no. Certain extended benefits plans will cover laboratory testing under "naturopathy" and this usually is applicable only to the specialty tests (e.g. food sensitivity testing).
For serum blood testing that a medical doctor can also run, they usually are not covered by extended medical plans. Instead, the patient will have to pay out of pocket (price varies depending on what is being tested); this is why serum blood labs can be more comprehensive through a ND because the patient pays for it (versus through a MD where it is covered in Canada).