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 modalities.
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.
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.
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 ability.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle
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
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 illness.
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.