What Is Natural Medicine?The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
—THOMAS EDISON Introduction
An evolution in the core principles of health care has been occurring over the last few decades. At the forefront of this change is naturopathic medicine—a system of medicine based on the belief that the human body has a remarkable innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (N.D.’s) view the patient as a complex, interrelated system—a whole person—and focus on promoting health through natural, nontoxic therapies such as nutrition, lifestyle modification, herbal remedies, psychological measures, and many others.
Naturopathic medicine is helping to usher in the emerging paradigm in medicine. A paradigm
is a model used to explain events. As our understanding of the environment and the human body evolves, new paradigms are developed. For example, in physics the cause-and-effect views of Descartes and Newton were replaced by Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and approaches in theoretical physics that take into considerations the tremendous interconnectedness of the universe.
The new paradigm in medicine also focuses on the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotions, social factors, and the environment. While the old paradigm viewed the body basically as a machine that can be fixed best with drugs and surgery, the emerging new model considers these measures secondary to natural, noninvasive techniques that promote health by supporting the body’s own healing processes. The relationship between the physician and patient is also evolving. The era of the physician as a demigod is over. The era of self-empowerment is beginning. Naturopathic Medicine: A Brief History
Naturopathy (the word means “nature cure”) is a method of healing that employs various natural means to empower an individual to achieve the highest level of health possible. Despite its philosophical links to many cultures, modern naturopathic medicine grew out of natural healing systems in 18th- and 19th-century Europe and the United States. The European tradition of “taking the cure” at natural springs or spas had gained a foothold in America by the middle of the 18th century. The custom helped make Germany and the United States especially receptive to the ideas of naturopathy. Among the movement’s earliest promoters were Sebastian Kneipp, a priest who credited his recovery from tuberculosis to bathing in the Danube; and Benedict Lust, a physician who trained at the water-cure clinic that Kneipp had founded in Europe. Lust arrived in the United States in the 1890s and began using the term naturopathy
to describe an eclectic compilation of doctrines of natural healing.
In 1902, Lust founded the first naturopathic college of medicine in the United States in New York City. It taught a system of medicine that included the best of what was then known about nutritional therapy, natural diet, herbal medicine, homeopathy, spinal manipulation, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, stress reduction, and other natural therapies. The basic tenets of Lust’s view of naturopathy are summarized in his article “The Principles, Aim and Program of the Nature Cure”:1
The natural system for curing disease is based on a return to nature in regulating the diet, breathing, exercising, bathing and the employment of various forces to eliminate the poisonous products in the system, and so raise the vitality of the patient to a proper standard of health. . . .
THE PROGRAM OF NATUROPATHIC CURE
1. ELIMINATION OF EVIL HABITS, or the weeds of life, such as over-eating, alcoholic drinks, drugs, the use of tea, coffee and cocoa that contain poisons, meat eating, improper hours of living, waste of vital forces, lowered vitality, sexual and social aberrations, worry, etc.
2. CORRECTIVE HABITS. Correct breathing, correct exercise, right mental attitude. Moderation in the pursuit of health and wealth.
3. NEW PRINCIPLES OF LIVING. Proper fasting, selection of food, hydropathy, light and air baths, mud baths, osteopathy, chiropractic and other forms of mechano-therapy, mineral salts obtained in organic from, electropathy, heliopathy, steam or Turkish baths, sitz baths, etc. . . .
There is really but one healing force in existence and that is Nature herself, which means the inherent restorative power of the organism to overcome disease. Now the question is, can this power be appropriated and guided more readily by extrinsic or intrinsic methods? That is to say, is it more amenable to combat disease by irritating drugs, vaccines and serums employed by superstitious moderns, or by the bland intrinsic congenial forces of Natural Therapeutics, that are employed by this new school of medicine, that is Naturopathy, which is the only orthodox school of medicine? Are not these natural forces much more orthodox than the artificial resources of the druggist? The practical application of these natural agencies, duly suited to the individual case, are true signs that the art of healing has been elaborated by the aid of absolutely harmless, congenial treatments.
The early naturopaths, including Lust, attached great importance to a natural, healthful diet. So did many of their contemporaries. John Kellogg, a physician, Seventh-day Adventist, and vegetarian, ran the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which utilized natural therapies; his brother, Will, built and ran a factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, to produce health foods such as shredded wheat and granola biscuits. Driven both by personal convictions about the benefits of cereal fibers and by commercial interests, the Kellogg brothers, along with a former employee, C. W. Post, helped popularize naturopathic ideas about food.
Naturopathic medicine grew and flourished in the early part of the 20th century. However, in the mid-1930s several factors led to the medical profession’s establishing the foundation for its current virtual monopoly on health care: (1) the medical profession finally stopped using therapies such as bloodletting and mercury dosing, replacing them with new therapies that were more effective for treating symptoms and much less toxic; (2) foundations supported by the drug industry began heavily subsidizing medical schools and drug research; and (3) the medical profession became much more of a political force, resulting in the passing of legislation that severely restricted the viability of other health care systems.2
Naturopathy has experienced a tremendous resurgence since the mid-1970s when the profession was nearly extinct. This resurgence is largely related to increased public awareness about the role of diet and lifestyle in chronic diseases and the failure of modern medicine to deal effectively with these disorders. In addition, the 1978 founding of Bastyr University, with its focus on teaching science-based natural medicine and its landmark achievement of accreditation, played a major role. The Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine
Although the term naturopathy
or naturopathic medicine
was not used until the late 19th century, the philosophical roots of this medical system go back thousands of years. Drawing on the healing wisdom of many cultures, including India’s ayurveda, China’s Taoism, and Greece’s Hippocratic school of medicine, naturopathic medicine is a system founded on seven time-tested principles:
Principle 1: The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae
). Naturopathic physicians believe that the body has considerable power to heal itself. It is the role of the physician to facilitate and enhance this process with the aid of natural nontoxic therapies.
Principle 2: Identify and treat the cause (tolle causam
). The naturopathic physician is trained to seek the underlying causes of a disease rather than simply suppress the symptoms, which are viewed as expressions of the body’s attempt to heal. The causes of disease can arise at the physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual levels.
Principle 3: First, do no harm (primum non nocere
). The naturopathic physician seeks to do no harm with medical treatment by employing safe and effective natural therapies.
Principle 4: Treat the whole person (holism). Naturopathic physicians are trained to view an individual as a whole, a complex interaction of physical, mental-emotional, spiritual, social, and other factors.
Principle 5: The physician as teacher (docere
). The naturopathic physician is foremost a teacher, educating, empowering, and motivating the patients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthful attitude, lifestyle, and diet.
Principle 6: Prevention is the best cure. Naturopathic physicians are specialists in preventive medicine. Prevention of disease and support of health are accomplished through education and life habits.
Principle 7: Establishing health and wellness. Establishing and maintaining optimal health and promoting wellness are the primary goals of the naturopathic physician. While health is defined as the state of optimal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, wellness is defined as a state of health characterized by a positive emotional state. The naturopathic physician strives to increase the level of wellness regardless of the disease or level of health. Even in cases of severe disease, a high level of wellness can often be achieved. Naturopathic Therapy
Naturopathic physicians’ primary focus is on promoting health and preventing disease. In addition to providing recommendations on lifestyle, diet, and exercise, naturopathic physicians may elect to utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities to promote health. Some naturopathic physicians choos...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.