Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Natural Therapies used in Treatment
Is Naturopathic Medicine effective? Is it research-based?
Naturopathic Medicine is a unique profession of primary health care
that emphasizes the use of prevention and promotion of optimal health
through the use of natural therapeutics.
Naturopathic medicine encourages the self-healing process, the vis
medicatrix naturae, and blends centuries-old knowledge of natural
therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and
human systems. Its scope of practice includes all aspects of family
and primary care, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and all natural medicine
In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession’s
infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional
licensing, national standards of practice, peer review, and a commitment
to state-of-the-art scientific research. top
The History of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine as a distinct health care profession is almost
100 years old and has its origins in the philosophy of Hippocrates
and the healing wisdom of many cultures. Benedict Lust brought Naturopathic
Medicine to New York State in 1896. In the early 20th century, practitioners
of a variety of medical disciplines joined together to form the first
Naturopathic medical societies. Naturopathic medical conventions attracted
more than 10,000 practitioners; there were more than 20 Naturopathic
colleges, and Naturopathic physicians were licensed in most states.
Naturopathic medicine experienced a decline in the 1940’s and
50’s with increased popularity of pharmaceutical drugs and technological
medicine, and a widespread belief that these therapies could eliminate
all disease. Over the past twenty years, a health-conscious public
has sought out alternatives to conventional medicine and, because
of this; Naturopathic medicine has experienced resurgence.
Naturopathy continues to grow and evolve as a body of knowledge. Naturopathic
medicine, as an organized profession, is committed to ongoing research
and development of its science. It incorporates many elements of scientific
modern medicine. top
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes in the body an inherent ability,
which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic Doctors identify and
remove obstacles to recovery and facilitate and augment this healing
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
The Naturopathic Doctors seeks to identify and remove the underlying
causes of illness, rather than eliminate or suppress its symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the
patient: 1) utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize
the risk of harmful side effects; 2) avoid, when possible, the harmful
suppression of symptoms; 3) acknowledge and respect the individual's
healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
Naturopathic Doctors educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility
for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in
the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic Doctors treat each patient individually, taking into
account his or her physical, mental, emotional state as well as genetic,
environmental and social factors. Since total health includes spiritual
health, Naturopathic Doctors encourage individuals to pursue their
own spiritual paths.
Naturopathic Doctors emphasize disease prevention, assessment of
risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate
interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine seeks to improve
conditions through preventative measures so that we all may live healthier.
Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health
and balance. It is a state of being healthy and is characterized by
positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone,
no matter what the disease(s) he or she may have. If this fact is
recognized and experienced by an individual, he or she will heal quicker
than if the disease were only treated. top
Natural Therapies used in Treatment
Nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods are a cornerstone of Naturopathic
medicine. The naturopathic approach to diet and nutrition has been
validated in many scientifically based professional journals on nutrition
and dietary sciences. Many medical conditions can be treated as effectively
with foods and nutritional supplements as with other means, with fewer
complications and side effects. While most medical doctors receive
fewer than 20 classroom hours in clinical nutrition, Naturopathic
Physicians receive more than 140 hours.
This powerful system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is
widely accepted in many countries. Homeopathic medicines, when properly
prescribed, affect the body’s “vital force” and
strengthen its innate ability to heal. Homeopathic remedies function
on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects.
Some conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine
respond effectively to homeopathy.
Many plant substances are highly effective in the right dosage and
when used correctly with other herbs and treatments. Herbs can be
prepared in many forms – teas, tinctures, capsules. Naturopathic
doctors are trained in both the art and science of botanical medicine.
Physical medicine offers treatment for musculoskeletal concerns. Treatments
can include soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage), spinal
adjustments, physiotherapy using heat and cold, gentle electrical
impulses, ultrasound, diathermy, hydrotherapy and exercise therapy.
Mental attitudes and emotional states are important elements in healing
and disease. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in various techniques
that include short-term situational counseling, couples counseling
and mind-body techniques. top
Is Naturopathic Medicine effective?
Is Naturopathic Medicine research-based?
Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific
research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines,
including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary
medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy,
psychology and spirituality.
Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes assessment
are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic
treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic
medical schools and in the offices of practicing physicians. Clinical
research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important
focus for naturopathic doctors. top