What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Founded upon a holistic philosophy, naturopathic medicine combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic medicine is appropriate for the management of a broad range of health conditions affecting all people of all ages.
As a distinct system of primary health care - an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness - naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. Methods used are consistent with these principles and are chosen upon the basis of patient individuality. Naturopathic physicians are primary health care practitioners whose diverse techniques include both modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.

Naturopathic Education

Naturopathic physicians (N.D.s) are the most thoroughly trained practitioners in the broadest scope of naturopathic medical modalities. In addition to the basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, naturopathic education includes clinical/therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, pharmacology, counseling, homeopathy, natural childbirth, classical Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, and minor surgery.  A Licensed naturopathic physician (N.D.) attends a four-year, graduate level, accredited naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D. while simultaneously studying holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.  Naturopathic physicians are required to pass rigorous professional board exams in order to become licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician. Additional information on naturopathic schools can be found at http://www.aanmc.org/.

Naturopathic Principles
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic physician's role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.

Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
Illness does not occur without cause. Causes may originate in many areas. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body's attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease. The naturopathic physician seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient:

  • Naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.
  • Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.
  • Naturopathic physicians respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturae in diagnosis, treatment and counseling, for if this self-healing process is not respected the patient may be harmed.

Doctor As Teacher (Docere)
The original meaning of the word "doctor" is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health. Naturopathic physicians also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.

Treat the Whole Person
Health and disease result from a complex of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development. Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health. The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person taking all of these factors into account.

Prevention
Naturopathic medical colleges emphasize the study of health as well as disease. The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health in patients are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living. Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a world in which humanity may thrive.

Naturopathic Physician's Oath
I dedicate myself to the service of humanity as a practitioner of the art and science of Naturopathic medicine.
 
I will honor my teachers and all who have preserved and developed this knowledge and dedicate myself to supporting the growth and evolution of Naturopathic medicine. I will endeavor to continually improve my abilities as a healer through study, reflection, and genuine concern for humanity. I will impart knowledge of the advanced healing arts to dedicated colleagues and students.
 
Through precept, lecture, and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves, our families, and future generations.
 
According to my best ability and judgment, I will use methods of treatment which follow the principles of Naturopathic medicine:
  • First of all, to do no harm.
  • To act in cooperation with the Healing Power of Nature.
  • To address the fundamental causes of disease.
  • To heal the whole person through individualized treatment.
  • To teach the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine.

I will conduct my life and the practice of Naturopathic health care with vigilance, integrity, and freedom from prejudice. I will abstain from voluntary acts of injustice and corruption. I will keep confidential whatever I am privileged to witness, whether professionally or privately, that should not be divulged.

With my whole heart, before this gathering of witnesses, as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, I pledge to remain true to this oath.

Adopted at the 1992 AANP Annual Convention.