What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Founded upon a holistic philosophy, naturopathic medicine combines safe and effective traditional therapies with
the most current advances in modern medicine. Naturopathic medicine is appropriate for the management of a
broad range of health conditions affecting all people of all ages.
Naturopathic physicians (N.D.s) are the highest trained practitioners in the broadest scope of naturopathic
medical modalities. In addition to the basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, naturopathic
education includes therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, classical Chinese
medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, pharmacology and minor surgery.

Definition of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care - an art, science, philosophy and practice of
diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles which
underlie and determine its practice. These principles are based upon the objective observation of the nature of
health and disease, and are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. 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

Definition of a Naturopathic Doctor
Diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using system of practice that bases treatment of physiological functions
and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing human body: Utilizes physiological, psychological, and
mechanical methods, such as air, water, light, heat, earth, phytotherapy, food and herb therapy, psychotherapy,
electro therapy, physiotherapy, minor and orificial surgery, mechanic therapy, naturopathic corrections and
manipulation, and natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines natural processed foods, and
herbs and nature's remedies. Excludes major surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and use of drugs,
except those assimilable substances containing elements or compounds of body tissues and are physiologically
compatible to body processes for maintenance of life.
Taken from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the government's book of jobs and job descriptions in

History of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine, sometimes called naturopathy, is as old as healing itself and as new as the latest
discoveries in biochemical sciences. In the United States, the naturopathic medical profession's infrastructure is
based on accredited educational institutions, professional licensing by a growing number of states, national
standards of practice and care, peer review, and an ongoing commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Modern American naturopathic physicians (NDs) receive extensive training in and use therapies that are primarily
natural (hence the name naturopathic) and nontoxic, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine,
hydrotherapy, physical medicine, and counseling. Many NDs have additional training and certification in
acupuncture and home birthing. These contemporary NDs, who have attended naturopathic medical colleges
recognized by the US Department of Education, practice medicine as primary health care providers and are
increasingly acknowledged as leaders in bringing about progressive changes in the nation's medical system.

The word naturopathy was first used in the US exactly 100 years ago. But the natural therapies and the
philosophy on which naturopathy is based have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. As
Rene Dubos noted in The Mirage of Health (1959), the word physician is from the Greek root meaning nature.
Hippocrates, a physician who lived 2400 years ago, is often considered the earliest predecessor of naturopathic
physicians, particularly in terms of his teaching that nature is healer of all diseases and his formulation of the
concept@ vis medicatrix naturae@-- the healing power of nature. This concept has long been at the core of
indigenous medicine in many cultures around the world and remains one of the central themes of naturopathic
philosophy to this day.

The earliest doctors and healers worked with herbs, foods, water, fasting, and tissue manipulation – gentle
treatments that do not obscure the body's own healing powers. Today's naturopathic physicians continue to use
these therapies as their main tools and to advocate a healthy dose of primary prevention. In addition, modern
NDs conduct and make practical use of the latest biochemical research involving nutrition, botanicals,
homeopathy, and other natural treatments.

For many diseases and conditions (a few examples are ulcerative colitis, asthma, menopause, flu, obesity, and
chronic fatigue), treatments used by naturopathic physicians can be primary and even curative. Naturopathic
physicians also function within an integrated framework, for example referring patients to an appropriate medical
specialist such as an oncologist or a surgeon. Naturopathic therapies can be employed within that context to
complement the treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a team-care approach
that recognizes the needs of the patient to receive the best overall treatment most appropriate to his or her
specific medical condition.
What is the difference between Homeopathy and Naturopathy?

Homeopathy is just beginning to get recognition as a natural health care specialty.  Some key features of homeopathy are
contrasted with naturopathy below:  

  • A Homeopath uses homeopathic medicine as the primary treatment for  illness. Homeopathy is a complete medicine –
    it can treat a wide variety of conditions from nosebleeds, skin conditions, stiff neck muscles, digestive problems and
    chronic pain to depression.
  • Homeopathic medicine is different from herbal medicines or mineral supplements. Homeopathic medicines are made
    from very small quantities of plant, mineral or animal substances.
  • Homeopathic medicines are non-toxic and safe for babies and during pregnancy.
  • Full treatment homeopathy looks for one medicine to treat all of the patients’ problems. If you have headaches,
    constipation, chronic sinusitis joint pain, depression and eczema, one homeopathic remedy will be prescribed to treat
    all of these problems.  

  • A Naturopath has some knowledge about a lot of natural therapies.  Many of the therapies that a naturopath has a
    general understanding of (e.g. Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nutrition, Acupuncture and
    Homeopathy) can also be studied exclusively as specialties for up to 4 years each. To become a specialist in each of
    the therapies listed above would require 15-20 years of training and an equal number of years in practical experience.  
    Naturopaths generally focus on Western herbalism or botanical medicine.
  • Naturopathic medicine depends on the therapy the naturopath chooses – most often this includes herbal medicine,
    botanical medicine and supplements (vitamins, minerals, enzymes …)
  • Herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals and enzymes are not always safe for children or during pregnancy.  Dosages and
    quantities need to be closely monitored by a professional.
  • Western herbalism is similar to Western medicine – you get one or more medicines for each problem you have.  
    Western herbalism substitutes medicines listed above for pharmaceutical drugs.  For instance, if you have liver
    problems you may be given Milk Thistle, if you have joint pain you might get Glucosamine Sulfate, if you have headaches
    you may get White Willow Bark.  With this approach costs escalate with the number of health problems that need to be
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