Naturopathic medicine or 'naturopathy' is a distinct health care profession that is grounded in the same biomedical sciences as conventional 'allopathic' medicine, but distinguished by a progressive approach based on philosophy and treatment. The term allopathy, which translates to 'other disease', was coined to reflect the conventional medical approach of suppressing symptoms or creating an effect different from those symptoms. The term naturopathy, on the other hand, translates to 'nature disease' which reflects the primary guiding principle of the profession - 'vis medicatrix naturae' or the healing power of nature. This principle, as described below, portrays the body as an organism with the inherent ability to balance itself in such a way that corrects dis-ease. Therefore, the goal of naturopathic medicine is to bring the body back into a better state of balance in order to prevent disease and promote optimal health. This is achieved through the use of natural therapeutics and individualized care, both of which are governed by the profession's holistic guiding principles:
The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine:
Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae):
A vitalistic belief that there is an ordered, intelligent guiding force that coordinates the natural world and, thus, the human body. It is this force that brings the body back into a state of balance and allows for innate healing to occur.
First do no Harm (Primum Non Nocere):
Keeping the patient safe through the use of sustainable methods/medicine that minimize the risk of harmful side effects and promote the preservation of health.
Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam):
The goal of treatment is to remove the obstacles, or causes, that block the vital force. When this force is impaired, dis-ease results. By removing this blockage, dis-ease can be corrected.
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totem):
The body as a whole is made up of a complex network of systems that communicate with each other. In order to truly correct disease, all systems need to be taken into account and coordinated.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere):
The word doctor stems from the ability to teach others through knowledge attained. Educating patients helps to develop a better understanding of their health, encourages self-responsibility, and ultimately enhances therapeutic potential.