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:
Nutritional supplementation, often through infusion
Physical therapies Physical Therapy (PT) Physical therapy, a component of rehabilitation, involves exercising and manipulating the body with an emphasis on the back, upper arms, and legs. It can improve joint and muscle function, helping... read more (such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasonography, and massage)
Hydrotherapy (agitated warm water or cold water applications)
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. However, the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) encourages using vaccinations according to guidelines from authoritative sources (including the United States Public Health Service), including the COVID vaccine COVID-19 Vaccine Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines provide protection against COVID-19. COVID-19 is the disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There are multiple COVID-19 vaccines... read more (see AANMC Statement on COVID-19 Immunization).
Few well-designed studies of naturopathic therapies have been done.
(See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more .)
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