What Is Naturopathic Medicine?


Naturopathic Medicine 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.  The practice of Naturopathic Medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods. The following principles are the foundation of Naturopathic Medical practice:  

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic Medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic doctors act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

  • Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The Naturopathic doctor seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms. 

  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic doctors follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:

    • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat; 

    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and

    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process. 

  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic doctors educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-client relationship. 

  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic doctors treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, Naturopathic doctors encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development. 

  • Prevention: Naturopathic doctors emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their clients to prevent illness.

Naturopathic Medicine includes the following modalities: clinical and laboratory testing, nutritional therapies, botanical therapies, naturopathic physical medicine, public health measures, hygiene, counseling, minor surgery, homeopathy, acupuncture, prescription medication, intravenous and injection therapy, and naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth). The inclusion of these modalities in an individual Naturopathic practice depends upon individual state licensure and scope of practice.


What is a Naturopathic Doctor?


Naturopathic doctors combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, Naturopathic Medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive evaluations and recommendations. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, Naturopathic doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the Naturopathic doctor’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.

Naturopathic doctors work worldwide in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. Qualified Naturopathic doctors undergo rigorous training and board examination before they are able to become licensed healthcare practitioners. Visit the AANP's Professional Education page at
www.naturopathic.org to learn more about Naturopathic education.

Naturopathic doctors address all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family healthcare. Among the most common ailments they address are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. In some states, Naturopathic doctors can perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts or stitching up superficial wounds. However, they do not practice major surgery. Again, in some states, Naturopathic doctors are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of Naturopathic Medicine is the use of natural healing agents.