Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. While the roots of naturopathic medicine date back to the 1890s, naturopathic medicine has witnessed a rapid increase in public interest in recent years as a result of the growing consumer movement to solve the health care puzzle using prevention, wellness, and respect for nature’s inherent healing ability.
Most naturopaths provide supplemental primary care through office-based private practice, but a growing number are in clinic settings.
Naturopathic diagnosis focuses on identifying the underlying causes of disease, while naturopathic therapies are supported by research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology, and even spirituality.
The therapeutic modalities used in naturopathic medicine (including physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy and hydrotherapy) integrate conventional, scientific, and empirical methodology with the ancient laws of nature.
The underpinnings of naturopathic medical practice are found in the following six principles.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians identify and remove obstacles to recovery to facilitate this healing ability in patients.
Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.
First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:
- Use methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects;
- Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms;
- Acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.
Naturopathic physicians 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 physicians treat each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual path.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease, and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance. Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought, and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, regardless of disease(s). If wellness is recognized and experienced by an individual, it will more quickly heal a given disease than direct treatment of the disease alone.