Naturopathy: Understanding the Specialty

Naturopathy: Understanding the Specialty

Health & Wellness
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Brought to the U.S. from Germany in the 19th century, Naturopathy dates back to origins in Europe from the 16th and 17th century. It has evolved from its roots in traditional medical philosophies and practices into what it is today. Naturopathy as defined by the AANP, or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, is a “distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process.”

In short, it is a health system practiced around the world that uses natural remedies and treatment options to help the body heal itself.

Naturopathy embraces a range of healing modalities, including herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, massage therapy, acupuncture, minor surgery, exercise, psychotherapy and counseling, nutritional counseling, and more.

Types of Naturopathic Practitioners

Three types of naturopathic practitioners exist, each consisting of different licensing and education completion.

Naturopathic physicians usually have completed a 4-year graduate-level program at an accredited North American naturopathic medical school. These schools are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. While some states have licensing requirements for naturopathic physicians that include completing a 4-year program, passing an examination to receive a license, and fulfilling continuing education requirements, other states don’t have licensing requirements at all.
Traditional Naturopaths receive training in different ways, in programs that aren’t accredited by organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Training programs can very in content and length.
Other healthcare providers include medical practitioners such as dentists, physicians, chiropractors, etc., who offer naturopathic treatments based on additional training in naturopathy that they’ve pursued.

Naturopathic Principles

Naturopathy is foundationally based in six principles that guide the medical practice. They are listed below.

  1. The Healing Power of Nature: recognizes the human’s inherent self-healing process.

  2. Identify and Treat the Causes: attempts to identify and remove underlying causes of illnesses instead of just treating symptoms.

  3. First, Do No Harm: uses methods that minimize risk of harmful side effects and harmful suppressions of symptoms and acknowledges and works with self-healing process.

  4. Doctor as Teacher: focuses on educating patients and encouraging self-responsibility for health.

  5. Treat the Whole Person: takes into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social factors, and spiritual development.

  6. Prevention: emphasizes prevention of diseases and intervening at appropriate times.

Naturopathy’s goal is to treat the whole person, which means there is a heavy focus on contributing factors that affect the mind, body, and spirit.

What does Naturopathy help treat?

Naturopathic medicine can be helpful in the treatment of many conditions. Some of them include:

Digestive problems
Fertility issues
Hormonal imbalances
Chronic pain
Chronic fatigue syndrome

You can use naturopathy to help treat an illness or condition, or use it to simply boost your overall health.

Important things to remember about Naturopathy

Naturopathy should not be used in emergency situations or for issues that require a visit to a hospital, like a major surgery. Naturopathy also should never replace conventional medicine for serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease. You shouldn’t stop or delay conventional medical care for naturopathy either.

It’s important to let your doctors know that you are wanting to start/or have started naturopathy, so they can advise on safe treatments for you. Some naturopathic treatments have known side effects and risks like:

Supplements interfering with certain prescription medications
Spinal adjustments causing injuries to arteries, nerves, bones, and spinal discs
Detox diets preventing the consumption of vital nutrients

By keeping your doctors in the loop, you assure a safe way of using naturopathy to benefit your health.

Ready to start a journey with naturopathy? Find a naturopath near me.



Kristen Luft is a digital marketer working on health-centered blog posts for Wellistic. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, snuggling her greyhound or chihuahua, or following the latest trends on Instagram.