Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
1. The healing power of nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
The body has an inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the body’s vital life force. It is the role of the naturopathic physician to facilitate this natural process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery and to promote a healthy internal and external environment for the body to heal. Principles needed to heal include adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition and, if needed, herbs which can move the body toward health without common side effects posed by some synthetic pharmaceuticals.
2. Identify and treat the cause (Tolle causam)
The underlying root cause of disease must be identified and removed for complete healing to take place. Illness does not occur without reason. Symptoms express the body’s attempt to heal, but are not the cause of the illness. It is the role of the naturopathic physician to identify the root cause of the illness and treat it, which will alleviate the symptoms.
3. First do no harm (Primum non nocere)
Illness is a purposeful process of the organism. The process of healing can cause the manifestation of symptoms, which are an expression of the body’s vital force attempting to heal itself. Any therapy that interferes with this natural healing process by masking or suppressing symptoms without removing the underlying cause is harmful and should be avoided. The natural life force of the individual must be supported to facilitate the healing process.
4. Treat the whole person (Tolle totum)
The core component of naturopathic medicine is the belief that health must go beyond treatment of immediate symptoms as in allopathic medicine. Instead, the person is seen as a whole, involving many complex interacting facets. Thus, treatment of the entire person (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is necessary for recovery from and prevention of disease.
5. The physician as teacher (Docere)
The cooperative relationship between doctor and patient is essential to healing. The physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to be responsible for his or her own health.
6. Prevention is the best cure
The ultimate goal is prevention. Emphasis is on building health not fighting disease. This is attained by building healthy internal and external environments for the body, assessing risk factors specific to each patient, and determining an individualized protocol to strengthen weaknesses and promote balance to ward off disease.