Naturopathy brings together various natural healing therapies such as homeopathic
remedies, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, massage therapy and hydrotherapy
for the treatment of all types of illness. Naturopathic physicians are
considered the general practitioners of complementary medicine. They view the
individual as an integral whole and the symptoms of disease as indicators of
improper functioning and an unhealthy lifestyle. They encourage the individual
to take an active part in the healing process through recommended adjustments in
lifestyle, diet and exercise and in maintaining the body's natural state of
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Benedict Lust, a German-born physician and disciple of Father Sebastion
Kneipp. who developed the practice of water cures in Europe, introduced Kneipp's
hydrotherapy techniques to the United States in 1892. A German homeopathic
physician named John H. Sneel first used the term "Naturopathy" in the
late 1800s to denote a form of health care that utilized natural therapies to
treat the whole person. But in 1900, an American group of Kneipp practitioners
decided to incorporate all of the natural healing practices of the day under one
discipline and adopted the term naturopathy. They defined it as a separate
discipline that in addition to hydrotherapy included botanical medicine,
nutritional therapy, homeopathy, medical electricity (now bio-electric therapy),
psychology and manual and manipulative therapies.
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The naturopathic physician (N.D.) utilizes six basic principles of healing.
- Vis Medicatrix Naturae: "the healing power of nature."
The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health.
The N.D. strives to create an environment in which this innate intelligence
can act to restore the body to a healthy state.
- Prevention: It is the best "cure." The ultimate goal of
any health care system should be prevention. This is accomplished through
education and promotion of life-style habits that support and promote good
- Tolle causum: "identify and treat the cause." Underlying
causes of illness must be found and removed or treated before the individual
can recover. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal and not
the cause of the disease. For that reason, they should not be suppressed.
The underlying causes on all levels must be exposed and treatment should be
directed toward the root cause.
- Primum non nocere: "first do no harm." The process of
healing includes the generation of symptoms which are the expression of the
life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions by the physician
should be complimentary to this healing process. The primary mission of the
naturopathic physician is to do no harm to the patient through therapeutic
or diagnostic action.
- Holism: Treat the whole person. The harmonious functioning of the
whole person is essential to the recovery process and to the prevention of
disease. Naturopathic physicians work with the body-mind-spirit continuum in
diagnosing and treating their patients.
- The physician as teacher: In addition to diagnosing and treating
the individual, the role of the N.D. is to create a healthy, interpersonal
relationship with the patient, educating and encouraging them to take
responsibility for their health. The physician should assess risk factors
and identify hereditary susceptibilities to disease before recommending
appropriate action to minimize further herm and risk to the patient. The
emphasis should be on building health rather than fighting disease.
Diagnosis begins with a lengthy physical exam including blood and urine
tests. Extensive time is spent discussing present life style, attitudes,
stresses and dietary habits to gain an understanding of all aspects of the
patient's life. When appropriate, Naturopaths refer patients to a traditional
physician who can admit them to hospitals, prescribe drugs and perform
Diet and Treatment Recommendations:
- The inclusion of foods from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, grains,
beans, nuts and seeds, is highly recommended. Salt, sugar and food additives
should be excluded when possible. Eight glasses of water per day should be
- Consumption of animal products, especially fats, should be held to a
minimum to prevent toxic substances, such as antibiotics and hormones found
in the meat, from accumulating in the body.
- To promote detoxification, periodic fasts of three to five days are
recommended during which the patient drinks nothing but water and some
- Clean living is the foremost recommendation. A lifestyle that results in
the accumulation of heavy metals and chemicals in the body and uses alcohol,
drugs and food additives should be totally avoided.
- Some N.D.'s are licensed to perform minor surgery, including laceration
repairs, skin biopsies, skin lesion removal, non-invasive hemorrhoid
surgery, abscess incising and draining, circumcision and setting of bone
Extensive use of hydrotherapy is what really sets naturopathy apart from
other natural complementary medical systems. In fact, naturopathy evolved out of
hydrotherapy as practice in nineteenth-century Europe. Hydrotherapy is the use
of water in any of its forms (hot, cold, ice, steam, etc.) for the maintenance
of health or the treatment of disease.
- Methods of application: sitz baths, douche, spa and hot tubs,
whirlpool, sauna, shower, immersion bath, hot or cold pack, poultice, foot
bath, fomentation, wrap or colonic irrigation.
- Immersion in or application of cold water causes the blood vessels
to contract, reducing the flow of blood, swelling and inflammation. It
reduces fevers and acts as a local anesthetic. Ice packs are effective for
headaches, nosebleeds, muscle spasms, bruises, contusions and sprains.
- Heat dilates the blood vessels which increases circulation. It
relaxes muscles, eases stiffness in joints and relieves aches and pains.
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* * Caution: Because heat treatments
increase the heart rate, those with a heart condition or diabetes should consult
a physician before using heat treatments. Heat treatments should not be used on
infants and the elderly due to their extreme sensitivity to temperature.
Pregnant women should also not use heat treatments. * *
Naturopathy is used in treating the following conditions:
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Back Pain
- Chemical addiction
- Chronic Candidiasis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Colds and flu
- Environmental allergies
- High Blood Pressure
- Hypoglycemia or Diabetes
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Peptic Ulcers
- Premenstrual Syndrome
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