AskDefine | Define naturopathy

Dictionary Definition

naturopathy n : a method of treating disease using food and exercise and heat to assist the natural healing process

User Contributed Dictionary



naturopathy (plural naturopathies)
  1. A system of therapy that avoids drugs and surgery and emphasizes the use of natural remedies (air, water, heat, sunshine) and physical means (massage, electrical treatment) to treat illness.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy) is a complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the ability of the body to heal and maintain itself, which practitioners believe is innate. Naturopathic practice may include different modalities such as abstinence, acupuncture, colonic irrigation, counseling, chiropractic, diet, exercise, herbalism, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, environmental medicine, manual therapy, orthomolecular medicine and relaxation. Practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments. Naturopathy has its origins in a variety of world medicine practices, including the Ayurveda of India and Nature Cure of Europe. It is practiced in many countries but subject to different standards of regulation and levels of acceptance.
Naturopathic practitioners prefer not to use invasive surgery, or most synthetic drugs, preferring natural remedies, for instance relatively unprocessed or whole medications, such as herbs and foods. Graduates of a naturopathic medical school in North America are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment. If the patient does not respond to these treatments, they are often referred to physicians who utilize standard medical care to treat the disease or condition.

History of naturopathic medicine

Some see the ancient Greek "Father of Medicine", Hippocrates, as the first advocate of naturopathic medicine. . In Scotland, Dr Thomas Allinson started advocating naturopathy in the 1880s, promoting a natural diet and exercise with avoidance of tobacco and overwork.
In the USA, the term naturopathy was coined before 1900, by John Scheel, and used by Benedict Lust. Lust had been schooled in hydrotherapy and other natural health practices in Germany by Father Sebastian Kneipp, who sent Lust to the United States to bring them Kneipp's methods. In 1905, Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York, the first naturopathic college in the United States but "according to the New York Department of State, and the Florida Report to Governor Leroy Collins, it appears that this naturopathic school was never anything but a diploma mill". . Lust took great strides in promoting the profession, culminating in passage of licensing laws in several states prior to 1935, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington and the founding of several naturopathic colleges.
Naturopathic medicine went into decline, along with most other natural health professions, after the 1930s, with the discovery of penicillin and advent of synthetic drugs such as antibiotics and corticosteroids. In the post-war era, Lust's death, conflict between various schools of natural medicine (homeopathy, eclectics, physio-medicalism, herbalism, naturopathy, etc.), and the rise of medical technology were all contributing factors. In 1910, when the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published the Flexner Report which criticized many aspects of medical education in various institutions (natural and conventional), it was mostly seen as an attack on low-quality natural medicine education. It caused many such programs to shut down and contributed to the popularity of conventional medicine.
Naturopathic medicine never completely ceased to exist, however, as there were always a few states in which licensing laws existed—though at one point there were virtually no schools. One of the most visible steps towards the profession's modern renewal was the opening in 1956 of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. This was the first of the modern naturopathic medical schools offering four-year naturopathic medical training with the intention of integrating science with naturopathic principles and practice. Today there are six accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America.

Naturopathy In India

There are also many doctors trained in conventional medicine who have acquired naturopathy degrees so as to integrate the insights gained into their system of practice.
The Indian stream of naturopathy differs from the Western stream in many ways, particularly in their emphasis on strict vegetarianism and yoga.

Naturopathic practitioners

There are two groups in North America calling themselves "naturopaths" who have recently been engaged in legal battles. The term when originally coined by John Scheel, and popularized by Dr. Benedict Lust was to apply to those receiving an education in the basic medical sciences with an emphasis on natural therapies. This usage best describes modern day naturopathic physicians. In the absence of universal regulation of naturopathy, another group of practitioners (the so-called 'traditional naturopaths') has emerged. Additionally, a variety of health care professionals may incorporate naturopathic principles and modalities into their practice.

Naturopathic physicians

Naturopathic physicians in North America are primary care providers trained in conventional medical sciences, diagnosis and treatment, and are experts in natural therapeutics. Licensing and training requirements vary from state to state, but at least 15 states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces have formal licensing and educational requirements. In these jurisdictions, Naturopathic Physicians must pass comprehensive board exams set by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) after having completed academic and clinical training at a college certified by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The letters ND usually designate a naturopathic doctor or physician in jurisdictions where such a title is protected by law.

Traditional naturopaths

Traditional naturopaths are guided by the same naturopathic philosophies and principles as board-licensed Naturopathic physicians and often prescribe similar treatments but do so as alternative or complimentary practitioners rather than as primary care providers. Some may voluntarily join a professional organization, but these organizations do not accredit educational programs in any meaningful way or license practitioners per se. The training programs for traditional naturopaths can vary greatly, are less rigorous and do not provide the same basic and clinical science education as naturopathic medical schools do. The professional organizations formed by traditional naturopaths are not recognized by the U.S. Government or any U.S. State or Territory.

Other health care professionals

According to a 1998 taskforce report, many conventionally trained physicians are choosing to add naturopathic modalities to their practice, and states such as Texas have begun to establish practice guidelines for MDs who integrate alternative and complementary medicine into their practice . Continuing education in naturopathic modalities for health care professionals varies greatly but includes offerings for practitioners who hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.), Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.), Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Physician’s Assistant (P.A.), and Registered Nurses (R.N.). These professionals usually retain their original designation but may use terms such as 'holistic', 'natural', or 'integrative' to describe their practice.

Regulation of naturopathic medicine

In some jurisdictions the practice of naturopathic medicine is unregulated and so the titles like "naturopath", "naturopathic doctor", and "doctor of natural medicine" are not protected by law. This may lead to difficulty in ensuring that a practitioner is trained to a particular standard or has adequate liability insurance.

Regulation in Australia

There is currently no state licensure in Australia, rather the industry is self regulated. There is no protection of title, meaning that technically anyone can practise as a naturopath. The only way to obtain insurance for professional indemnity or public liability is by joining a professional association, which can only be achieved having completed an accredited course and gaining professional certification. Currently the only registered modalities of natural medicine in Australia are those relating to Chinese medicine, and only in the state of Victoria.

Regulation in North America

Jurisdictions that currently regulate naturopathic medicine include:

Regulation in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, there is no government sponsored regulation of the naturopathy profession. The largest registering body, The General Council & Register of Naturopaths, recognises three courses in the UK, two being taught at osteopathic schools: the British College of Osteopathic Medicine; The College of Osteopaths Educational Trust; and one at the University of Westminster School of Integrated Health under the auspices of the B.Sc Health Science (Naturopathy) course.
Members of this register will either have completed a three or four year full time degree level course or possibly be a healthcare professional (Medical Doctor, Osteopath, Chiropractor, Nurse) who has completed a two year post-graduate Naturopathic Diploma, the N.D. As the naturopathic profession has developed along different lines in the UK, naturopaths do not perform minor surgery or have prescribing rights.


External links

naturopathy in German: Naturheilkunde
naturopathy in Spanish: Medicina natural
naturopathy in Esperanto: Naturkuracado
naturopathy in French: Naturopathie
naturopathy in Hindi: प्राकृतिक चिकित्सा
naturopathy in Italian: Medicina naturopatica
naturopathy in Hebrew: נטורופתיה
naturopathy in Dutch: Natuurgeneeswijze
naturopathy in Norwegian Nynorsk: naturmedisin
naturopathy in Russian: Натуропатия
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