The 6 Principles Of Naturopathic Medicine

by Julie Tran

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Naturopathy.

Highlights

  • Naturopathic medicine emphasizes a holistic approach to healing others.
  • Naturopathic doctors teach patients how to make the right decisions rather than forcing decisions on them

What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is an eclectic system of medicine that holds true to 6 naturopathic principles. Naturopathic doctors believe in holistic healing—the body, mind, and spirit of a person. We believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Where Did Naturopathic Medicine Start?

Hippocrates declared: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. A Greek physician from Cos, Hippocrates believed that an imbalance of a human body stems from any sort of disease or ailment. A patient and a physician must work together to restore a sense of harmony.

Naturopathy has roots that go far beyond modern allopathic medicine (conventional Western medicine). The innate power to self-heal is found within us all.

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Highlights

  • Naturopathic medicine emphasizes a holistic approach to healing others.
  • Naturopathic doctors teach patients how to make the right decisions rather than forcing decisions on them

What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic Medicine is an eclectic system of medicine that holds true to 6 naturopathic principles. Naturopathic doctors believe in holistic healing—the body, mind, and spirit of a person. We believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Where Did Naturopathic Medicine Start?

Hippocrates declared: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. A Greek physician from Cos, Hippocrates believed that an imbalance of a human body stems from any sort of disease or ailment. A patient and a physician must work together to restore a sense of harmony.

Naturopathy has roots that go far beyond modern allopathic medicine (conventional Western medicine). The innate power to self-heal is found within us all.

Cave paintings in France show Shamanic rituals from 15,000 BC, which focused on healing the mind and soul. Ancient Egyptian medicine spearheaded by Imhotep in 2600 BC reflect similar ideologies of whole person healing. Asclepius, a Greek physician, established a holistic healing center in 1200 BC. Skeptics who say Naturopathic Medicine is just for Birkenstock-wearing hippies have set themselves up to take on a heavy-weight opposition (led by the ancient fathers of medicine).

The 6 Principles

1. The Healing Power of Nature: Vis Medicatrix Naturae

We all have the power to heal ourselves. Sometimes, the body forgets things it once knew. A naturopathic doctor simply removes those roadblocks and guides the body back to its natural path.

Our bodies are smarter than we realize. Naturopathic doctors gently remind the body, “This is what you used to do. You just forgot for a moment.”

2. First, Do No Harm: Primum Non Nocere

Will this cause more suffering than healing? This is the first question naturopathic doctors should ask when they are prescribing herbs, finding acupuncture points, or preparing a dietary plan.

If I’m trying to dose herbs in a tincture, I have to ask myself, “Will these herbs be toxic to the body in a high dose?” The first line of defense should be the least invasive.

3. Find The Cause: Tolle Causam

Naturopathic medicine treats the root cause, not the symptom.

Why is the patient experiencing pain? Did he injure himself? If the pain is coming from a muscle pulled out of place, the best way to treat it may be to retrain the tendons and muscles to go back where they once were.

If you’re sick with a cold, naturopathic doctors look at why you might have caught a cold in the first place (rather than treating the cold symptoms directly). In allopathic medicine, a doctor might just send you home with a bottle of cold medicine. Antibiotics may stop a runny nose, lower a fever, and ease a headache. These allopathic treatments, however, don’t help prevent a cold when flu season rolls around again.

With naturopathic medicine, doctors ask if you’re getting enough sleep, eating foods with nutritional value, and managing your stress. What imbalance in your life is causing these symptoms?

4. Doctor As Teacher: Docere

Naturopathic doctors don’t tell patients what to do, naturopaths educate them to make the correct choice for themselves. This is one of the principles that really attracted me to naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is about lifestyle change—eating right, exercising, and balancing work and play.

If you’re craving something sweet, don’t eat that chocolate-covered donut. Eat this apple. I’m trying to empower the patient to make the right decision when temptation strikes. I can’t follow patients through every moment of their lives, but I can help them make informed decisions.

The change has to start with the patient's choices. People ask doctors whether they should vaccinate their kids. I can tell the patient my opinion and the results of studies, but ultimately, that’s the patient’s decision.

Patient and teacher share the responsibility. Naturopathic doctors aren’t helicopter moms. We show you how to make good decisions for yourself and let you implement those changes into your life.

5. Treat The Whole Person: Tolle Totum

The mind and body are connected. Most of the time, doctors only work on the physical body because we can only see physical symptoms—a cough, a sneeze, a limp.

Treating the whole person means asking, “Where is this person coming from? What motivates him? Why does he feel like the sky is falling?”

Naturopathic doctors take mental and emotional factors into account. We scrutinize relationships with spouses, children, and friends. We want to see the whole picture, not just fragments.

I want to understand what the patient believes, especially if it’s a self-destructive rumination. If a patient wakes up every morning saying, “I’m worthless and I hate my life,” I want to know why he feels this way. Then I work on building his self-confidence.

Once he starts feeling better about himself, he may become more active. When he starts to take action in his life, good things follow. As a naturopathic doctor, I must help to jump-start that process.

6. Prevention

Naturopathic physicians want to help guide patients back to good health and empower them to take measures to avoid future problems. We want to help you maintain your body’s natural balance.
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