A definition of this philosophical and scientific system of health care might begin with the European term “nature cure.” Literally, naturopathy means healing a “pathos” by the power of nature; that is, pure water, clean air, sunshine and wholesome foods.  Whereas physical well-being undeniably relates closely to the sound use of good foods, Naturopathic treatments consider the whole person — body, mind and spirit.

The Naturopathic doctor is trained to assess the underlying cause of an ailment, and work towards removing the obstacles to good heath, which will naturally dispel the disease symptoms and minimize their recurrence.  Naturopathic doctors graduate from a four-plus year post-graduate program with training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, physical medicine, natural childbirth, Oriental medicine, minor surgery, pharmacology, counseling and stress management.

Although the range of therapies in which modern Naturopaths are trained is vast, five principles of medicine unite the profession:

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae):
Sun, Air, Water, Plant Medicine

  • The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains and restores health.  Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent.  It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.

Do No Harm:
The Simplest, Gentlest Effective Therapy

  • Naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.
  • Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.
  • Naturopathic physicians respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturae in diagnosis, treatment and counseling, for if this self-healing process is not respected the patient may be harmed.

Find The Cause:
Removing the Obstacle to Cure

  • Illness does not occur without cause.  Causes may originate in many areas.  Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body’s attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease.  The naturopathic physician seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

Treat The Whole Person:
Body, Mind and Spirit

  • Health and disease result from a complex of 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 development.  Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health.  The multifactorial nature of health and disease requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.  Naturopathic physicians treat the whole person as an individual, and taking all of these factors into account.

Maintaining a Strong Immune System

  • The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health in patients are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine.  In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living.  Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.  Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a world in which humanity may thrive.

For a comparison between conventional allopathic medical training and naturopathic medical training here is an excellent resource: