Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness and disease.  Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which underlies and determine its practice.  These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are continually re-examined in the light of scientific advances.  The 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 modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.  The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice.




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 the healing process to be ordered and intelligent.  It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate and augment this process, to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment. 


Identify and Treat the Causes [Tolle Causam]

            Illness does not occur without cause.  Causes 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 heal itself, to defend, adapt and recover, 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 medicine follows three precepts to avoid harming the patient.

1.      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.

2.      Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression may interfere with the healing process.

3.      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 principle 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 interaction 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 multi-factorial 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.



            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 can thrive. 




Naturopathic Practice

            Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and treatment modalities: utilization of all methods of clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing, including diagnostic radiology and other imaging techniques; nutritional medicine, dietetics and therapeutic fasting; medicines of mineral, animal and botanical origin; public health measures, sanitation and hygiene; naturopathic physical medicine including naturopathic manipulative therapies, the use of water, heat, cold, light, electricity, air, earth, electromagnetic and mechanical devices, ultrasound, and therapeutic exercise, homeopathy, acupuncture, psychotherapy and counseling; minor surgery and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth).  Naturopathic practice excludes major surgery and the use of most synthetic drugs.


Copyright – AANP: Zeff; Snider, 1989


Darrell S.C.S. Misak ND, RPh is an Oregon licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, a Registered Pharmacist in Pennsylvania, and a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from West Virginia University in 1992, he gained University Hospital, and Compounding Pharmacy experience prior to receiving his Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.  For more information or to set up a consultation, contact the South Hills Integrative Wellness Center,  20 Cedar Blvd., Suite 200, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania 15228 at



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