What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
Side Effects/Cautions
Recommended Books

What Is It?
Naturopathy is a holistic system of medicine that integrates a range of natural therapies. It is based on common-sense practices of good nutrition, getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and rest, and a positive attitude. It is also based on the belief that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Naturopathy aims to harness the healing powers of nature, rather than drugs or surgery, to treat the whole person.

Naturopathy is one of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back to the simple nature cures used by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Indians. The term “naturopathy” however, (combining the terms “nature cure” and “homoeopathy”) wasn’t coined until the late 19th century, when a “back to nature” movement developed in reaction to some of the disturbing medical practices at that time, and the dirt and disease caused by the Industrial Revolution. The founder of naturopathy as a modern therapy is thought to be German doctor Benedict Lust, who emigrated to the United States and founded the first school of naturopathic medicine in New York in 1902.

How Does It Work?
Naturopaths use a wide variety of natural, non-invasive remedies such as herbal medicines, dietary supplements, homoeopathy, acupuncture, detoxification, osteopathy and massage, and provide advice on nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle changes to help prevent illness and aid the body to heal itself.

Naturopaths follow six basic principles:
1) First do no harm. Remedies chosen are non-toxic and non-invasive and should not suppress symptoms without treating the underlying cause of symptoms.
2) Nature has the power the heal. Advocates of naturopathy believe the body has an innate ability to heal itself, and the role of the naturopath is to help remove obstacles to the healing process.
3) Treat the cause not the effect. Naturopaths try to find and treat the underlying causes of illness rather than suppress symptoms.
4) Treat the whole person. Every aspect of a person - emotional, mental, spiritual and physical - is taken into account when treating and preventing illness.
5) The physician is a teacher. Naturopaths aim to educate their patients about healthy diet and lifestyle, and encourage these practices to promote wellbeing.
6) Prevention is the best cure. Maintaining a healthy environment for the body is the most effective way to prevent illness.

Naturopaths treat each person as a unique individual, taking into account their environment, genetics, lifestyle, and mental and emotional aspects, to tailor a treatment that’s best for them.


What Happens During Treatment?
Naturopathic practitioners fit into two main groups: naturopathic physicians, who have had extensive biomedical training, and “traditional naturopaths” who offer advice on diet and lifestyle. Their methods of diagnosis and treatment vary accordingly. During your first visit, all naturopaths will take a detailed medical history and ask about your diet, lifestyle and emotional health. A naturopathic physician may conduct a physical exam and arrange for laboratory tests or x-rays.

Your naturopath will then design an individualised treatment plan which may include changes in your lifestyle (e.g., giving up smoking, exercising regularly), homoeopathic remedies, herbal medicines, dietary restrictions or fasting, massage or other physical therapies, counselling or other stress reducing therapies, dietary supplementation or detoxification therapy (see separate entries for these therapies).

Sessions will last around 30-45 minutes, and the number of sessions needed will depend on your condition. It is important to keep in mind that naturopathy is a gentle form of therapy and many of the treatments recommended work slowly.


What Is It Used For?
The various methods of treatment used by naturopaths have been shown to be helpful for treating heart disease, muscle and joint problems, digestive disorders, urinary and prostate disorders, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, asthma, allergies, chemical sensitivities, pain and many other ailments . Diet and lifestyle changes recommended by naturopaths also have lasting benefits in the prevention of diseases.

Side Effects/Cautions
Naturopathy mostly uses gentle, non-invasive treatments that are designed to do no harm, however, caution should be taken with some herbal remedies, especially if you are pregnant or are taking conventional medication.

Any dietary restrictions, detoxification, or fasting treatments a naturopath recommends should be discussed with your conventional doctor or a qualified nutritionist. These treatments should be avoided by the elderly, weak and very young, and those with conditions like diabetes, which require special diets. Even healthy people can experience unpleasant symptoms during the initial stages of detoxification or fasting, as the liver and kidneys become overloaded with the release of toxins.

See side effects and cautions under separate entries for other therapies recommended by naturopaths.

Using naturopathic remedies without consulting a conventional doctor could allow serious medical conditions to go undiagnosed.


Find a Naturopath



Recommended Books

Prices are in US Dollars


Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition
Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno

The perfect balance between the latest research and age-old wisdom. This completely revised and expanded second edition of the classic reference work arms you with the latest information on the extraordinary healing powers of natural medicine. Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, two of the most trusted naturopathic doctors in the world, have teamed up once again to bring you cutting-edge natural remedies for the most common ailments.
Easy to understand, a pleasure to read, yet scientifically well researched and documented, this is your complete health adviser to the natural approach to over 70 diseases, from arthritis to varicose veins. In addition, this life-long reference offers important information on:
• The four cornerstones of good health and how to achieve them
• How to enhance your body's key systems
• How to promote good health and increase longevity
Authoritative and up to date, the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine is the essential medical reference no home should be without.

 Learn more...


Prescription for Natural Cures : A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More
James Balch, Mark Stengler

The new natural health bible for the twenty-first century.
Dr. James Balch coauthored Prescription for Nutritional Healing, which became the first major popular guide to the healing power of foods and nutritional supplements, selling more than 8 million copies in all its editions. Now, Dr. Balch and Dr. Mark Stengler present a new natural health resource that you can’t afford to be without–a comprehensive reference of natural remedies for common ailments, including: acne • allergies • arthritis • asthma • back pain • cancer • depression • fibromyalgia • heart disease • hypothyroidism • influenza • irritable bowel syndrome • menopause • osteoporosis • stroke • Syndrome X • varicose veins, and more–almost 200 health problems and conditions in all.
Prescription for Natural Cures provides a complete natural Rx for each condition, giving you a proven, natural, customized prescription that may include supplements, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, aromatherapy, Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, bodywork, natural hormones, and other natural cures in addition to nutritional advice. Organized by problem from A to Z, this invaluable guide features:
• The unique Super Seven Prescriptions for each condition, which provide specific and practical remedies to help heal your problem. You have never seen natural health advice as helpful, targeted, and accessible as this
• Clear, authoritative guidance on dietary changes, healing foods, nutritional supplements, and recommended tests
• Easy-to-understand discussions of the symptoms and root causes of each health problem
• Down-to-earth descriptions of each natural remedy
• A resource guide to holistic practitioners
This breakthrough book is an indispensable resource if you want to get better - naturally.

 Learn more...



Natural Medicine First Aid Remedies: Self-Care Treatments for 100+ Common Conditions
Stephanie Marohn

Consumers seeking a solid home health guide to natural remedies will find here a virtual 'bible' of information from how to treat burns and cramps to handling a toothache or nail problems. Each condition outlines several alternative treatment choices, from oils and flower essences to food therapy, herbal medicine and nutritional substitutes.

 Learn more...


More Naturopathy Books
Natural Medicine Books


<< Natural Therapies Index