Without question, the principles of naturopathic medicine and natural healing modalites have roots from thousands of years ago. However, as a distinct profession, it was founded in 1902 by Benedict Lust, a prominent physician from New York and originally from Germany. The profession went into near extinction by the 1950’s when the atomic age ushered in a more reductionistic view of science in general and in medicine specifically. The use of “miracle drugs” such as penicillin dominated the medical culture. By the 1970’s, a lack of solution to rising chronic disease lead to the public demanding more results from the failing medical model. Naturopathic medicine and other natural based systems of healing offered a solution to this crisis, and the profession started to reemerge. Today, due to the efforts of thousands of physicians and patients, naturopathic medicine has emerged as an integral part of the healthcare system.
The current scope of practice and training for naturopathic medicine is broad and includes traditional conventional medical diagnostics, botanical or herbal medicine, Homeopathic medicine, nutrition, physical medicine including basic orthopedics and advanced manipulation, Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, environmental medicine and detoxification practices, counseling and stress management, minor surgery, and when applicable, prescription drug medications.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary care medicine. Its distinction lies in two key areas; one, in its principles of practice and two, it underlying philosophy of practice.
The six principles listed below give rise to a medical practice that emphasizes the individual and engenders empowerment towards greater responsibility in personal health care.
First Do No Harm – Primum Non Nocere
The first and most important principle in all medical practices, particularly of within the philosophical tenets of naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine utilizes therapies that are both effective and safe.
The Healing Power of Nature – Vis Medicatrix Naturae
This key tenet of naturopathic medicine and refers to the innate and inherent ability of the body to heal itself. The Vis Medicatrix Naturae is a concept elaborated in the writings of Hippocrates and is not unlike the concept of chi or qi, or pranna, or any other concept of a life-generating and sustaining force.
Discover and Treat the Cause – Tolle Causam
Naturopathic physicians seek to treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms are viewed as natural expressions of healing which guide the physician towards a holistic view of the patient that reveals the true cause.
Treat the Whole Person – Tolle Totum
We are whole beings, with mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical dimensions that must be viewed while trying to help any condition.
The Physician is a Teacher – Docere
A personal favorite, the physician must help and guide the patient towards newer understandings about themselves and their health. The physician must teach and with that commitment be a perpetual student for the benefit of the patient.
Prevention as the best cure – Preventire
Through education and lifestyle changes the naturopathic physician can lead the patient towards preventing disease processes before they occur or reoccur. Physicians can assess risk factors early on and intervene appropriately to prevent illness.
Upon these six unifying principles, adopted in 1989 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), prominent thinkers in naturopathic philosophy and policy, Drs Zeff and Snyder articulated a Therapeutic Order that expounds upon basic naturopathic philosophy.
Naturopathic Therapeutic order:
- Establish the conditions for health
Identify and remove disturbing factors
Institute a more healthful regimen
- Stimulate the healing power of nature
(vis medicatrix naturae): the self-healing processes
- Address weakened or damaged systems or organs
Strengthen the immune system
Normalize inflammatory function
Optimize metabolic function
Balance regulatory systems
Harmonize with your life force
- Correct structural integrity
- Address pathology
Use specific natural substances, modalities, or interventions
- Address pathology
Use specific pharmacologic or synthetic substances
- Suppress or surgically remove pathology
From Zeff J, Snyder P. Course syllabus: NM51 71, Naturopathic clinical theory. Seattle: Bastyr University, 1997-2005. “The actual therapeutic order may change, depending on the individual patient’s needs for safe and effective care. The needs of the patient are primary in determining the appropriate approach to therapy.”
This Therapeutic Order allows the physician to approach the clinical situation in a patient-centered fashion utilizing the least invasive measure when possible but providing the avenue for more heroic measures if needed. In the end, the patient receives the best possible care that provides true healing of the entire system.
Currently, fourteen states and four provinces in Canada allow the practice of naturopathic medicine including Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Manitoba, Montana, New Hampshire, Ontario, Oregon, Saskatchewan, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In the great State of Arizona, Naturopathic Doctors enjoy a broad scope of practice and are fully licensed primary care physicians and many health insurance plans offer coverage of naturopathic medical services.
At Iluminar, Dr. Bosch provides the most comprehensive and individualized naturopathic approach for each patient helping to guide them towards their goals of Metabolic Health.