Naturopathic Guiding Principles

Principles of Healing

The practice of naturopathic medicine emerges from six principles of healing. These principles are based on the objective observation of the nature of health and disease and are examined continually in light of scientific analysis. These principles stand as the distinguishing marks of the profession:

First do no harm -- primum no nocere

As a person heals, symptoms are generated as the inner life force attempts to reestablish balance. Any treatment should support and encourage this natural healing process. Therapies that suppress symptoms without addressing the underlying cause are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized unless absolutely necessary.

Treat the whole person -- in perturbato animo sicut in corpore sanitas esse non potest

People are complex beings and are made up of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic, genetic, environmental, and social factors, and a patient's treatment must take all of these factors into account. Health recovery and maintenance as well as disease prevention require all aspects of the individual to function optimally and in harmony with each other. This requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.

The physician as teacher -- docere

A creative partnership between doctor and patient is therapeutic in and of itself. Because the patient, not the doctor, ultimately accomplishes the healing, the doctor must educate and empower patients to be more active and responsible in their health care. The physician's goal is to provide knowledge, facilitate understanding, and inspire hope by creating healthy interpersonal relationships with each patient. The physician must also make a commitment to her/his own personal and spiritual development.

Identify and treat the cause -- tolle causam

Illness does not occur without cause, and causes may occur on many levels, including physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual. Complete recovery can only be achieved once those underlying causes of disease are discovered and removed or reduced. Symptoms are used to guide the physician to the cause, symptom removal is not the sole focus of treatment. The physician must evaluate all of these levels, and develop a treatment plan that addresses the root causes as well as seeking relief of symptoms.

Prevention -- principiis obsta: sero medicina curatur

The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention. Physicians need to educate patients and promote sustainable lifestyle choices that foster good health and minimize disease risk factors. A patient's energetic make-up includes their unique heredity, temperament, and constitution. Imbalances in these areas need to be addressed because they can constitute their own risk factors, especially when combined with an unhealthy lifestyle. The physician emphasizes building health rather than fighting disease, and both physician and patient can also work to create healthier communities and environment.

The healing power of nature -- vis medicatrix naturae

Each person has an inherent healing wisdom, which works to constantly reestablish and maintain balance and follows ordered and intelligent natural laws of healing. The physician's role is to support this process, to use treatment modalities that strengthen, rather than suppress, the action of the vital force, and to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery.


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