The Philosophy and Guiding Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
The following six principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice. These principles guide how naturopathic physicians think about and treat patients, and sets them apart from other medical professionals. Methods and modalities are selected and applied based upon these principles in relationship to the individual needs of each patient.
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae):
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in every individual person, which is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam):
Naturopathic physicians seek to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
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;
- Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
Doctor as Teacher (Docere):
Naturopathic physicians educate 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:
Naturopathic physicians treat each patient 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 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.
Adapted from The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians House of Delegates Position Paper (What is Naturopathic Medicine); www.naturopathic.org