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What is Naturopathy?

Naturopathic medicine is a primary health care practice which emphasizes preventing and treating disease, maintaining optimal health, and promoting a person’s self-healing process through "vis medicatrix naturae" (the healing power of nature). It blends centuries-old natural, nontoxic therapies with current advances in the study of health and human systems, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal through to geriatric care.


Naturopathic medicine has been shown to be effective for treating most health problems, both acute and chronic. Some of the therapies most commonly utilized by NDs include clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, physical medicine (such as myotherapy and hydrotherapy – muscle and water treatment), natural childbirth, counseling and stress management.

Naturopathic doctors emphasize effective conservative treatment first, leaving drugs and surgery as a last resort. They often serve people dissatisfied with conventional medicine.

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic doctors follow six key principles which are the basis of their practice:

  • First Do No Harm. Naturopathic Doctors avoid harming their patients by:

    • Using methods and therapeutic materials with minimal side effects, and the least interference necessary to diagnose and treat.

    • Avoiding, whenever possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms.

    • Acknowledging, respecting and working with the person’s self healing process.

    • Referring elsewhere for appropriate treatment when naturopathic therapies are inappropriate, or ineffective

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix naturae). Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in each of us which is both ordered and intelligent. It acts to establish, maintain, and restore health. Naturopathic Doctors identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and facilitate and augment this self-healing ability.

  • Identify and Treat the Cause. NDs seek to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, be they physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

  • Treat the Whole Person. NDs treat each patient using a comprehensive approach to diagnose and treat the total person.

  • Doctor as Teacher. NDs educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They act as catalysts for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to move toward that self-responsibility. A doctor-patient relationship has the potential to be therapeutic in and of itself. 

  • Prevention. The ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention of disease. NDs emphasize the prevention of disease—assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and taking appropriate steps, in partnership with their patients, to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which all of humanity may thrive

Naturopathic Practice

Naturopathic philosophy serves as the basis for naturopathic practice.  The current scope of naturopathic practice includes, but is not limited to:

  • Clinical Nutrition is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice based on the premise that food is often the best medicine. Foods and nutritional supplements successfully treat many conditions with fewer complications and side effects. Naturopathic doctors use specific diets, and supplements, natural hygiene, and fasting in their practices.

  • Botanical Medicine involves the use of powerful plant medicines, from which many drugs are derived. Their organic nature makes them much closer in nature to the chemistry of the human body, decreasing the potential for toxic side effects. Their safety, availability and affordability make them particularly appealing for care of chronic conditions

  • Homeopathic Medicine is based on the principle of "like cures like." It works on a subtle yet powerful electromagnetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's healing and immune response.  It is very effective and safe, even for new-born babies.

  • Physical Medicine involves methods of therapeutic manipulation of muscles, bones, and the spine (similar to Chiropractic adjustment). Ultrasound, diathermy, exercise, massage, water, heat and cold, air, and gentle electrical pulses are used to treat acute or chronic physical injury. Note: in California, spinal manipulation is not part of the scope of practice, as it is in other states. 

  • Oriental Medicine is a complementary philosophy of natural healing which offers a different understanding of the unity of the body and mind. Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda provide ancient theories and methods of treatment.  These help harmonize the imbalances of disease conditions and restore the dynamic balance of health.

  • Psychological Medicine - Mental attitudes and emotional states influence, and often cause, physical illness.  Counseling, nutritional balancing, stress management and other therapies are used to help patients heal on levels other than the physical.

  • Minor Surgery involves in-office minor surgery, including repair of superficial wounds, removal of foreign bodies, cysts, and other superficial masses.  We refer to surgeons when their skills are needed for our patient's wellbeing. Note: In California, Minor Surgery is not part of the scope of practice as it is in other states.

  • Naturopathic Obstetrics (natural childbirth care) occurs in either an out-of-hospital setting, or in a hospital. Naturopathic doctors offer prenatal and postnatal care using modern diagnostic techniques.  The naturopathic approach strengthens healthy body functions so that complications associated with pregnancy can be prevented or minimized. Note: In California, Naturopathic obstetrics are closely monitored, where they are available.  

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