Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care—an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. Six principles of healing form the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
Vis Medicatrix Naturae (the Healing Power of Nature)
The body has the inherent ability not only to heal itself and restore health, but also to ward off disease.
Treat the Whole Person
Health and, consequently, disease result from a complex interaction of physical, mental emotional, genetic, spiritual, environmental, social, and other factors. Harmonious functioning is required for health. Imbalance in one part directly affects (may cause dis-ease in) other parts of the whole. There is rarely a single cause for disease. All of the “pieces” must be integrated to create the whole picture of an individual and develop the appropriate therapy.
Primum Non Nocere (First Do No Harm)
Respecting the inherent ability of the body to heal itself, the physician must be mindful of the consequences or side effects of treatment. The more gentle and non-invasive the therapy, the less disruptive it will be to the patient’s integral whole. Whenever possible, suppression of symptoms is avoided to reduce interference with the healing process.
Tolle Causam (Identify and Treat the Cause)
Illness does not occur without cause, and symptoms are not the cause of illness. When only the symptoms are treated, the underlying causes remain, and the patient may develop a more serious, chronic disease.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Health is a reflection of how we choose to live. Physicians help patients recognize their choices and how those choices affect their health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate intervention to prevent illness.
Docere (Doctor as Teacher)
The original meaning of the word “doctor” was “teacher”. A physician is a facilitator for a patient’s healing process. A principal responsibility includes the education of the patient as well as encouragement towards self-responsibility for health.