What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention of disease, encouragement  of the body’s inherent healing abilities, treatment of the whole person and  personal responsibility for one’s own health.

In addressing your illness or efforts to optimize wellness, the naturopathic care team  might prescribe vitamin/mineral supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathic  remedies, provide physical medicine and hydrotherapy treatments or recommend  changes in diet, lifestyle and exercise.

While firmly science-based, modern naturopathic medicine also preserves the  centuries-old wisdom of successful natural therapies. Your naturopathic team takes  the time to listen and to get to know you as a whole person. As a partner in your own health care, you play an integral role in making decisions about your treatment.

Naturopathic physicians practice the following fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine:

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Nature)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent ability in the body which is ordered and  intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery  and to facilitate and augment this healing ability.

Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of  illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient:

  • Utilize 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.

Doctor as Teacher (Docere) 
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 (Tolle Totum)
Naturopathic physicians treat each individual by taking into account 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 path.

Prevention
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*
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, no matter what disease(s) is/are being  experienced. If wellness is really recognized and experienced by an individual, it will  more quickly heal a given disease than direct treatment of the disease alone.

*This principle was adopted by Bastyr University and added to the six principles.

Definition of Naturopathic Medicine: AANP Position Paper, 1989 Snider P., Zeff J.,  Co-Chairs: Select Committee on the Definition of Naturopathic Medicine AANP House of Delegates, Rippling River, Oregon.