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Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is the practice of assisting in the health of patients through the application of natural remedies. Most naturopaths consider their care complementary, not supplementary, to the care a traditional medical professional.

There are two groups of healers who call themselves naturopaths:

In Puerto Rico, they each hold separate licenses which allows both their own different scopes of practice.

The two groups have recently held much animosity toward each other and been in recent legal battles.

Table of contents
1 History of Naturopathic Medicine
2 Naturopathic Physicians
3 Traditional Naturopaths
4 Tenets
5 Regulation
6 See also
7 External links

History of Naturopathic Medicine

Ther term naturopathy was coined before 1900, apparently by Benedict Lust (pronounced loost, from the German). Lust has been schooled in hydrotherapy and other natural health practices in Germany by Father Sebastien Knieff, who sent Lust to the United States to bring them Kneipp's methods. Lust founded the first naturopathic college in the United States, the American School of Naturopathy in New York (1905). Lust took great strides in promoting the profession, culminating in passage of licensing laws in several states prior to 1935, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington and the existence of several naturopathic colleges.

Naturopathic medicine went into decline, along with most other natural health professions, after the 1930s. Lust's death, conflict between various schools of natural medicine (homeopathy, Eclectics, Physio-Medicalism, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, etc.), the rise of medical technology, and consolidation of political power in convention medicine were all contributing factors. In 1910, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published the Flexner Report which rightly criticized many aspects of medical education in various institutions (natural and conventional), it mostly was seen as an attack on low-quality natural medicine education. It caused many programs to shut down and furthered the monopoly on medicine by medical doctors.

Naturopathic medicine never completely ceased to exist--there were always a few states in which licensing laws existed, though at one point there were no schools. One of the most visible steps towards the profession's modern renewal was the opening in 1956 of National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. This was the first of the modern naturopathic medical schools offering four-year, science-based naturopathic medical training.

Naturopathic Physicians

Naturopathic physician are primary care physicians with licenses or registration. They graduate from four-year graduate schools and receive the same basic science and clinical training as conventional medical doctors. Their training with respect to modalities is different, with a focus on nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, physical manipulation, pharmacology, and minor surgery. Some naturopathic physicians have additional training in natural chidbirth and/or acupuncture.

Traditional Naturopaths

The second practice is traditional naturopathy. It recognizes that conventional medicine has value for individuals who are injured, suffering from trauma, suffering from congenital or genetic disorders, and otherwise need a highly-trained individual who can intercede to help them survive and recover. The traditional naturopath practices in a complementary fashion by applying natural means to improve the patient's health. Through application of good dietary and lifestyle practices, combined with the addition of modalities such as herbalism, bodywork, spiritual and mental exercises, this type of naturopath enables an individual to take ownership and better control of his or her own health and well-being. Naturopaths consider these practices as being complementary rather than alternative. Traditional naturopaths are trained to work with individuals who can, by application of these techniques, either enhance or regain their good health. Traditional naturopaths do not diagnose and they do not treat diseases. For these, they rely on medical doctors.

Traditional naturopaths believe there is a crucial relationship between the body, mind, and spirit and by using methods and practices that they believe have been successfully applied for centuries and in many societies, traditional naturopaths attempt to empower individuals to regain ability to live in the best possible state of health. Traditional naturopaths and medical doctors can work with the same individual cooperatively in order to help the patient recover.


The basic tenets are:

The Healing Power of Nature

The healing power of nature, that the body has the ability to heal itself and it is the physician's role to facilitate this natural process.

Identify and Treat the Cause

The underlying root causes of disease must be removed for complete healing to take place. These root causes can exist at many levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is the physician's role to identify this root cause , in addition to alleviate suffering by treating symptoms.

First Do No Harm

The process of healing includes the manifestations of symptoms, so that any therapy that interferes with this natural healing process, by masking these symptoms is considered suppressive and should be avoided. The natural life force of the individual should be supported to facilitate healing.

Treat the Whole Person

Every individual deserves a personalized healing plan, and all the complex factors affecting a person's health and illness should always be considered.

The Physician as Teacher

It is the role of the physician to educate an individual and encourage that individual to take resposibility for their own health. This cooperative relationship between doctor and patient is essential to healing.


The ultimate goal of the naturopathic physician is prevention. The emphasis is on building health not fighting illness. This is done by fostering healthy lifestyles.


Jurisdictions that currently regulate naturopathic medicine include:

See also

External links