What is Naturopathy?

Origins & Development

Although the term “naturopathy” originated in late 19th Europe, the art can be traced back through Germany into Greece, to Hippocrates (400BC) himself, who became famous for his treatment of disease in accordance with natural laws. Naturopathy is a distinct system of medicine, which stresses health maintenance, disease prevention, health education and personal responsibility. Naturopathy views health as more than an absence of disease. Its goal and purpose is to free the body to heal itself by enhancing its own self-healing capabilities.

Known simply as “taking the cure”, naturopathy had gained a foothold in America by the middle of the 19th century and this atmosphere helped the United States especially receptive to the principles of naturopathic health care. All of the pioneers of naturopathy, such as Benedict Lust, Dr. Henry Lindlahr and Frederick W. Collins, believed in healing by bringing strength to the individual rather than by curing specific disease. All had a reverence for nature, and many of them could point to specific observations that led to the formation of natural theories and practices.

Naturopathy flourished in the US until the mid 30’s, at which point allopathic medical profession started to amalgamate into the single view, omnipotent establishment it is today. Naturopathic medicine, and nearly every other natural healing modality, was effectively wiped out. However, naturopathic health care has experienced a tremendous resurgence in the last two decades. This is largely due to increased public awareness of the role of diet and lifestyle choices in the cause of chronic disease, as well as, the failure of modern medicine to deal effectively with these disorders.

How Does Naturopathy Work?

In the naturopathic system of health care, disease is seen as a manifestation of the natural causes by which the body heals itself. For example, fever and inflammation are viewed as the body’s way of dealing with an imbalance that is undermining the healthy functioning of the body;  however, if the cause of the imbalance is not removed, either at a lower level of intensity or intermittently, it can be the origin of chronic disease. Healing a chronic disease requires removal of the underlining cause/s.

Our body tells us early on when there is a problem and we have a choice to either respond to the message or suppress the symptoms. Unless the underlying problem is corrected, eventually the symptoms will no longer be helped via over the counter medications or prescription drugs. At this point traditional allopathic medicine will bring in a diagnosis, but falls short in addressing the underlying problem, which is keynote of naturopathic theory and practice.

One Final thought

A true naturopath does not diagnose or treat disease, but focuses on health through education. They teach the “how to do” of creating an internal and external environment that is conducive to good health, enabling the individual to make their own choices.  True naturopathy is not a medical practice!  It is a practice of health.

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to health. In other words, disease effects the whole person, body, mind and sprit, and not simply an isolated organ or system. Each person responds in a unique way to his or her environment, having individual strengths, weaknesses and needs. Their body’s reaction to the same stress may be very different depending on their level of health, inherited tendencies, previous history, and so on. In addressing the whole person the naturopath searches for causes at many levels and attempts to eliminate the fundamental cause of the dis-ease.

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings”

Hippocrates (400BC)


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