What is naturopathy?

Naturopathy is an alternative medical system that combines many different healing practices to provide "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of infirmity."*

Naturopaths seek to heal the whole person in addition to the illness, through practices such as homeopathy, diet, acupuncture, herbal medicine, manipulative medicine, massage, counseling, and hydrotherapy.

Five Fundamental Principles of Naturopathy

1. The Healing Power of Nature:

Naturopaths believe that the body has the power to heal itself, known as the "vital force," and that the physician is there to facilitate the process with non-toxic therapies such as homeopathic remedies and aromatherapy, that work with the natural healing forces present in the body.

2. First Do No Harm:

Naturopaths are committed to using safe, non-invasive and natural therapies in order to eliminate harmful side effects. Naturopaths are trained to know which clients they can treat safely and effectively, and which patients to refer to other medical providers.

3. Find the Cause:

Naturopaths believe that there is an underlying cause, such as diet, lifestyle or emotional forces, to every illness. Naturopaths are trained to uncover and treat the cause instead of simply the symptoms of the illness.

4. Treat the Whole Person:

Each client is viewed as a whole person made up of emotional, physical and spiritual elements. Naturopaths take all these factors into account when treating a client.

5. Preventive Medicine:

Naturopaths are trained to prevent illness instead of simply to treat it, which is achieved through education and promotion of healthy lifestyle choices. They require the client to take an active role in their own health in order to avoid future health problems.

How did naturopathy begin?

Naturopathy emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries as part of an alternative healing movement in Europe and North America. The word was first used by a German homeopath named John H. Scheel to refer to health care that used natural methods instead of drugs and medications, and that focused on the whole person.

Naturopathy spread throughout North America and became quite popular until the early to mid 20th century when many alternative therapies were eliminated in favor of pharmaceutical drugs and technological medicine. However, Naturopathy re-emerged in the 1970s as people began to seek out alternatives to traditional medicine.

Today, Naturopaths are trained and licensed in many U.S. states, including New Hampshire.

What does a naturopath do?

Naturopaths use a variety of practices when treating a client. Along with diet and exercise, naturopaths make use of a few common procedures such as:

  • Homeopathy - A system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the disease.
  • Hydrotherapy - The therapeutic use of water.
  • Massage - Manipulation of tissues (by rubbing, kneading, or tapping) with the hand or an instrument for therapeutic purposes.
  • Osteopathy (manipulative medicine) - A system of medical practice based on a theory that diseases are due chiefly to loss of structural integrity which can be restored by manipulation of the parts supplemented by therapeutic measures.
  • Acupuncture - An originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points to cure disease or relieve pain.
  • Herbal Medicine - The art or practice of using herbs and herbal preparations to maintain health and to prevent, alleviate, or cure disease.

What is naturopathy used for?

Naturopathy is an alternative health care practice and is used to treat a variety of different issues. While they do not perform surgery or prescribe medication, Naturopaths can treat most common ailments and have been found to be effective in treating some chronic and degenerative disease. Naturopaths are primarily licensed as general family practitioners, and they work with their clients to practice illness prevention and general health.

How do I find a naturopath?

Naturopaths can be found through referrals your medical provider or the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine.



National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine

* World Health Organization. From the preamble of the Constitution of the World Health Organization.

** Definitions obtained from the Merriam Webster Dictionary Alternative Health: The Definitive Guide, by Burton Goldberg; Celestial Arts, 2002; Alternative Healing: The Complete A-Z Guide to more than 150 Alternative Therapies by Mark Kastner, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., and Hugh Burroughs. Henry Holt and Company: 1996; Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies by Anne Woodham and Dr. David Peters.