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Naturopathic Approach, Principles and Practices--An Overview

Updated on July 20, 2011
Naturopathic Medicine Logo
Naturopathic Medicine Logo

Is It All Right and No Hype?

Is naturopathy on the wave of the future in health care? What is the approach of Naturopathy? What are the principles associated with naturopathy? What sorts of illnesses are treated with its practices? These are just a few questions regarding this health care option. There are flurries of controversy surrounding naturopathy and/or homeopathy versus traditional and/or pharmaceutical remedies. Without getting involved in that hot debate, let's take a look at naturopathy, answer some questions, and examine what it contends to offer.

Naturopathy is an alternative medicine wherein practitioners encourage natural healing approach. In other words, they believe in the body's innate ability to heal and to continue in good health. Its practices are clearly steeped in this ideology. Experts claim that this does not mean that treatment modalities being offered have not necessarily had any scientific testing, as often implied, or that practitioners have been poorly educated. It has been noted that naturopathic medicine actually requires completion of a 4-year postgraduate training at schools that have admissions guidelines resembling those of traditional medical schools. As noted, and like other alternative medicine options, the principles of the naturopathic physician are guided by the belief that the body has this inherent ability to heal itself. So this is encouraged through the use of nutrition, exercise, bodywork, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy in their treatment programs. These regimens are offered only after obtaining a detailed history and physical exam and often testing. In visiting websites of practitioners in my area and calling, I learned that the first appointment is typically used to obtain history and physical information and ordering of any tests deemed necessary, and that the subsequent or follow-up visit would be used to discuss results and initiate a treatment plan. It has been stated that naturopathic practitioners view disease as a violation of what is natural to the body and use the above treatments to heal illnesses like colds, flu, digestive problems, and some autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and allergies, etc.

Although naturopathy has been around for about a century, it has gained greater popularity in the last 20 years, as people seek alternative treatments to traditional medicine, or a collaboration of efforts to optimize their health care. Almost anyone would agree that all illness has a cause whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise a combination thereof, and symptoms indicate the body's own effort to fight against disease. Naturopathic practitioners believe that these symptoms should not be suppressed but, instead, one should seek to get to the root cause of the illness. Thus, using a cause-seeking approach as opposed to a symptom-treating approach, naturopathics feel this is better for the whole body/person in the short and the long term.

As a health care alternative, or complementary medicine option, as it is now frequently called because of most practitioners' willingness to work along with traditional medical providers in the care of patients, it seems that naturopathic medicine is on the wave of increase in the US. Currently the future outlook for naturopathic medicine seems bright with 3 colleges in the US for those wishing to pursue naturopathic medicine located in the states of Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. There are 14 states licensing naturopathic physicians, plus Puerto Rico, with more likely to be included later.

This does not represent an endorsement of naturopathic medicine or any other treatment option, and should not be viewed as such. This is merely the presentation of information.


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