Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) or naturopathic medical doctors (N.M.D.s) strive to find the cause of disease by understanding the body, mind, and spirit of the person.
Most naturopathic doctors use a variety of therapies and techniques (such as nutrition, behavior change, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and acupuncture).
There are 2 areas of focus in naturopathy: one is supporting the body's own healing abilities, and the other is empowering people to make lifestyle changes necessary for the best possible health. While naturopathic doctors treat both short bouts of illness and chronic conditions, their emphasis is on preventing disease and educating patients.
Some of the more common treatments used by a naturopath include nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, and acupuncture. It also includes:
- Hydrotherapy (water therapy) -- These therapies include drinking natural spring water, taking baths, alternating hot and cold applications, and water exercise, all of which are thought to stimulate healing and strengthen the immune system.
- Physical medicine -- This natural approach to healing involves using touch, hot and cold compresses, electric currents, and sound waves to manipulate the muscles, bones, and spine.
- Detoxification -- This therapy removes toxins from the body by fasting, using enemas, and drinking lots of water.
- Spirituality -- Personal spiritual development is encouraged as part of an overall health program.
- Lifestyle and psychological counseling -- An N.D. may use hypnosis, guided imagery, or other counseling methods as part of a treatment plan.
Naturopaths consider patients to be participants in their health care, so you may be asked to make lifestyle changes, such as changing your sleeping, eating, and exercise habits.
Some see the ancient Greek “Father of Medicine”, Hippocrates, as the first advocate of naturopathic medicine.The modern practice of naturopathy has its roots in the Nature Cure movement of Europe during the 19th century.In Scotland, Thomas Allinson started advocating his “Hygienic Medicine” in the 1880s, promoting a natural diet and exercise with avoidance of tobacco and overwork.