Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is based on six principles.

  1. The Healing Power of Nature (vix medicatrix naturae)—The body has the inherent ability to heal itself. This healing process is intelligent and ordered. Naturopathic doctors support and assist the healing process by identifying and removing obstacles to cure and by using natural methods and medicines that work with, not against, the body's natural processes.
  2. Identify and Treat the Cause (tolle causum)—Every illness has a cause. Causes may occur on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal, but are not the cause of illness. Naturopathic doctors are trained to find and remove the underlying cause of an illness rather than just eliminate or suppress symptoms.
  3. First Do No Harm (primum non nocere)—Naturopathic doctors use methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects. Methods designed to suppress symptoms but not remove the underlying cause may be harmful, and their use is avoided.
  4. Doctor as Teacher (docere)—The original meaning of the word "doctor" is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self-responsibility for health.
  5. Treat the Whole Person—When treating an individual, all aspects of that person (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) are taken into account.
  6. Prevention is the Best Cure—Illness is often due to diet, habits, and lifestyle. Naturopathic doctors assess risk factors and susceptibility to disease and make appropriate recommendations to prevent illness or to prevent minor illness from developing into more serious or chronic disease. The emphasis is on building health rather than treating disease.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015