Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is defined by philosophical principles rather than clinical methods of practice. This creates a common understanding among naturopathic practitioners in a holistic paradigm of health and ensures a recognized approach to healing.
In 1989, the American Academy of Naturopathic Physicians codified its Six Principles to identify and guide the practice of Naturopathic Medicine:
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic physician's role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
First, Do No Harm (Primum non nocere)
Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Cause of Disease (Tolle Causum)
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
The original meaning of the word "doctor" is teacher. Naturopathic physicians eduacte their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)
Naturopathic medicine recognizes the harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual as being essential to health. Naturopathic physicians work in a holisitc paradigm by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their own personal spiritual development.
Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease: assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.