Naturopathic medicine is a distinct profession of primary health care that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and promotion of optimal health through the use of various natural therapies. The original method of treatment of Naturopathy was the water cure.
The philosophical approach of naturopathic medicine includes prevention of disease, encouragement of the body's inherent healing abilities, natural treatment of the whole person, personal responsibility for one's health, and education of patients in health-promoting lifestyles.
Naturopathic practice blends centuries-old knowledge of natural, non-toxic therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and human systems. The scope of practice includes all aspects of family and primary care and all natural medicine modalities, including botanical medicine, nutritional medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, and psychological counseling.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines the naturopathic physician as one who "diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that bases its treatment of all physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing the body, utilizes physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods, such as air, water, heat, earth, phytotherapy (plant medicines), electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and all natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed foods, herbs, and natural remedies."
Naturopathic medicine is distinguished from other medical systems by its philosophy, based on eight principles as follows.
- The healing power of nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
- Identify and treat the cause (Tolle causum) not just suppress symptoms
- First do no harm (Primum non nocere)
- Doctor as teacher (Docere)
- Treat the whole person, mind, body, and spirit
- The therapeutic order-use the least force to obtain each therapeutic goal
Qualified Naturopathic Doctors (ND) are graduates of a U.S. Department of Education accredited four-year naturopathic medical school. These programs provide the same basic sciences, diagnostic lab and radiological studies, minor surgery, etc. as medical schools, with emphasis on natural therapeutics, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, naturopathic physical medicine, natural childbirth and basic training in Oriental Medicine. Please note that NDs do not perform surgery or deliver babies in NY State.