Center for Graduate Studies and Research
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The practice of naturopathic medicine emerges from six principles of healing. These principles are based on the objective observation of the nature of health and disease and are examined continually in light of scientific analysis. These principles stand as the distinguishing marks of the profession:
1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment this process, to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment, and to facilitate this self-healing process. Naturopathic physicians recognize an inherent ability of the body to heal itself.
2. First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
Therapeutic actions that are complementary to and synergistic with the body’s innate healing process prevent harm to patients. Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient:
- Use methods that minimize harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat.
- Prevent suppression of symptoms.
- Respect each individual’s self-healing process.
3. Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
Naturopathic physicians seek to remove the underlying causes of disease rather than eliminating or suppressing symptoms. Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal, but are not the cause of disease; therefore, naturopathic medicine addresses itself primarily to the underlying causes of disease, rather than to the symptoms. Causes may occur on many levels, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes as well as seeking relief of symptoms.
4. Treat the Whole Person
Naturopathic physicians recognize that total health includes physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual, and other factors. They encourage patients to pursue personal spiritual development. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
5. Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The primary role of the naturopathic physician is to educate and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own health. They also recognize the therapeutic potential of the doctor/patient relationship. The physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for her/his own health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates or accomplishes healing. The physician must strive to inspire optimism as well as understanding. The physician must also make a commitment to her/his personal and spiritual development in order to be a good teacher.
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