Naturopathy, a termed coined around 1901, is the combination of the nineteenth century European practice Nature Cure with the principles and concepts of homeopathy.
Nature Cure was a tried and true method of using various forms of water (hydrotherapy), fresh air, diet and hygienic principles formulated by several key figures in the 18th and 19th Centuries, such as Vincent Priessnitz, of Austria.
Naturopathic medicine is the present blend of naturopathy’s principles and practices with modern scientific knowledge and formal graduate medical education.
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine include:
( Click on each Principle for more )
- The The Healing Power of Nature or Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Trust in the body's inherent wisdom to heal itself.Naturopathic doctors believe in an inherent healing capacity within each person. The idea is to remove obstacles in order to enable this healing power within to take over and restore a state of health. The naturopathic physician’s role is to facilitate and support this process.
- First Do No Harm or Primum Non Nocere
Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.Naturopathic treatments are gentle, non-invasive, and effective with no adverse side effects. (Beneficial side effects, however, are often noted!) Naturopathic doctors seek the most efficient and supportive means of cure and it is important that no further harm is done to the body in the process.
- Identify and Treat the Cause or Tolle Causam
Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine focus on removing the root cause of a patient’s condition as opposed to just treating the symptoms. For example, treatment plans focus on addressing the reasons a person may suffer from headaches, skin problems, or constipation, working to reverse the tendency. This allows the condition to disappear altogether, without a continued need for a crutch such as aspirin, cortisone, or laxative.
- Treat the Whole Person or Tolle Totum
View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.The word ‘wholistic’ is often used to describe naturopathic physicians, meaning that they view the body as a whole, unable to be separated into various parts. A naturopath recognizes the fact that it is impossible to separate the stomach and the ulcer from the mind and the stress response. Naturopaths regard every aspect of a person’s life crucial to their state of health. Thus N.D.’s look at everything from heredity, environment and daily lifestyle to dietary habits, past traumas and the effects of present emotional stress or stresses.
- Prevention or Defendere
Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.Naturopathic physicians work at every level to avoid future illness. Each aspect of treatment is geared toward supporting health and wellness over a lifetime.
- Physician as Teacher or Docere
Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.A naturopath is a person who has devoted their life to understanding health, disease and the human body from a scientific, and an integrated perspective. The naturopathic doctor’s role is to teach and share all that they have learned about how to be well and how to restore health; they aim to help a person make informed choices about factors that affect their health. Patients are encouraged to accept responsibility for their health and be active participants in their healing process.
More on Naturopathic Medicine
Historically, naturopathic principles have been in use for centuries. Hippocrates, the famous physician of the fifth century who originally defined the concept of temperament, also authored the idea that there is a vital force inherent in all living beings. This vital force, which naturopathic doctors call the ‘Vis’ (short for Vis Medicatrix Naturae) is that capacity within each living being that promotes self-healing. The word ‘physician’ itself was taken from the Greek root physis, meaning ‘nature’.
Naturopathic Training is a comprehensive, four-year medical program, which requires a prerequisite bachelor’s degree upon entry. The first two years cover the basic sciences, including Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Clinical and Physical Diagnosis and Laboratory Diagnosis. The following two years cover the clinical sciences, while incorporating several approaches to natural medicine such as Botanical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, and Homeopathy. Courses combine the knowledge of Western science with the art of natural healing. See more at www.aanmc.org, the official website of all seven accredited naturopathic medical colleges in North America. To get an idea of the core curriculum Drs. Erin and Laura completed at the National University of Natural Medicine.
In Europe, naturopathic medicine has been very popular and continues to be highly accepted and recognized. Natural medicine, in the form of homeopathy and other techniques, is also highly regarded in Canada, India, South America, New Zealand as well as many other countries around the world. Today, various forms of natural medicine are growing in acceptance and recognition in the United States.