Naturopathic Physicians Are Primary Health Care Practitioners, Whose Diverse Techniques Include Modern And Traditional, Scientific And Empirical Methods.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of medicine for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease and impairment. It stresses health maintenance, disease prevention, patient education, and patient responsibilities and emphasizes the treatment of the whole person rather than just treating the disease. Naturopathic medicine is not identified with any particular therapy, but with a philosophy of life, health and disease – Vis Medicatrix Naturae, “the healing power of nature.” Fundamental to this belief is a deep confidence in the ability of the body/mind to heal itself given the opportunity. All true healing is the result of the whole organism’s inherent and natural capacity, and it could be said “desire,” to be as healthy as it can be. Naturopathic physicians help to remove the obstacles to cure and employ natural therapies that strengthen and stimulate each person’s own healing processes.
Naturopathic History and the Formative Years
Naturopathic medicine grew out of alternative healing systems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but traces its philosophical roots to the vitalistic school of medicine of Ancient Greece (circa 400 BC). Over the centuries since this time, the two competing philosophies of medicine, vitalistic (now called natural medicine) and mechanistic (now called allopathic or conventional medicine), have alternately diverged and converged, influencing and shaping one another. Dr. Benedict Lust was the founder of naturopathy and the man who sustained and popularized it. Lust had been exposed to a wide range of practitioners and practices of natural healing arts. He was a student of Father Kneipp, a great practitioner of hydrotherapy (water therapy). Lust brought Kneipp’s hydrotherapy with him to America from Germany in 1892. In 1902, he founded the American School of Naturopathy. Over the years from 1900 to 1917, natural medicines were combined into one eclectic system. Here the American dietetic, hygienic, physical culture, hydrotherapy, spinal manipulation, mental and emotion healing, Thompsonian/eclectic (botanical/herbal medicine), and homeopathic systems of natural healing were all merged into naturopathy.
For more information on naturopathic medicine, please visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at www.aanp.org