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Naturopathy

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Oct 2021| Content last modified Nov 2021
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION

Naturopathy, which draws on practices from many cultures, began as a formal health care system in the United States in the early 1900s. Founded on the notion of the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes the following:

  • Prevention and treatment of disease through a healthy lifestyle

  • Treatment of the whole person

  • Use of the body’s innate healing abilities

Naturopathy also focuses on finding the cause of the disease rather than merely treating symptoms. Some of this system’s principles are not that different from those of traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda Ayurveda Ayurveda is the traditional medical system of India, originating more than 4,000 years ago. It is based on the theory that illness results from the imbalance of the body’s life force or prana... read more and traditional Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Originating in China several millennia ago, traditional Chinese medicine is based on the theory that illness results from the imbalance of the life force (qi, pronounced chee) through the body... read more . Naturopathy involves a whole-system, whole-person philosophy that may benefit people with heart disease, pain, type 2 diabetes, and mental health and chronic health conditions.

Naturopathy uses a combination of therapies, including the following:

Some naturopathic practitioners advocate practices that are not supported by scientific evidence. Hydrotherapy is an example. Also, some practitioners discourage childhood vaccinations despite studies having proven that vaccinations Childhood Vaccinations Vaccination protects children against many infectious diseases. Vaccines contain either noninfectious components of bacteria or viruses or whole forms of these organisms that have been weakened... read more prevent disorders and death and that benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh risks.

Few well-designed studies of naturopathic therapies have been done.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Naturopathy

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