Naturopathy, also known as naturopathic medicine, is based on the philosophy that the body is capable of healing itself naturally. It was developed in the United States in the late 19th century. The goal of naturopathy is to not only treat illness and improve overall health, it is also to prevent disease. This is achieved through the use of healthy foods and physical exercise. Naturopathy may also involve treatments from other forms of alternative medicine, such as hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and Ayurveda. Naturopathic doctors (ND) must complete four years of graduate-level studies at a registered educational institution.

Elements of Therapy

Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a key component of naturopathy. Naturopathic doctors often promote changes in lifestyle, such as changing one’s diet or exercising more often to help cope with symptoms of illness or maintain health and prevent disease. They may act as a teacher, coaching their patients to take responsibility for their own wellness. Naturopathy addresses the whole person as opposed to just the physical; naturopaths will often ask patients to describe their mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social health when treating an illness. The focus is meant to be on the cause or root of a problem as opposed to merely treating symptoms, which does not solve the underlying problem. Naturopathy does not typically involve the prescription of medication or the use of surgery, although naturopaths have, in extreme cases, performed very minor surgeries. More often, though, naturopaths use approaches such as acupuncture, bodywork, or herbal medicine and prescribe homeopathic remedies or supplements.

naturopathic doctor with patient


Naturopathy is typically used to promote overall wellness, prevent disease, and treat illnesses. Naturopaths may be called upon to treat allergies, earaches, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, arthritis, and other typical medical issues. Often, people turn to naturopathy when they have exhausted their options elsewhere and need a more comprehensive analysis of what might be going wrong. A naturopathic doctor will collaborate with other health professionals, making referrals for diagnoses and other forms of treatment if necessary.


The qualifications required to practice naturopathy may vary from state to state. There are several different types of naturopathic practitioners, including: naturopathic physicians, traditional naturopaths, and healthcare providers that also offer naturopathic care. If you are considering naturopathic medicine, it is important to ask about the practitioner’s qualifications, including his or her training and education. One common concern with respect to naturopathy includes the non-use of childhood vaccinations. Some naturopaths do not believe that childhood vaccinations, or any vaccinations at all, are necessary, which goes against current evidence that immunization programs have saved millions of lives around the world. It is important to tell your doctor or other health care provider if you decide to consult a naturopathic doctor.

Hands Holding a Stethoscope and Herbs


Naturopathy is an alternative approach to medicine that focuses on the whole instead of merely the physical body. It involves the use of a wide variety of approaches, including acupuncture, lifestyle coaching, and herbal remedies. Naturopathy has not been widely researched, but it may be beneficial in preventing disease. Naturopathic doctors must obtain a degree in order to practice naturopathic medicine.