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Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

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Naturopathic medicine recognizes the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit in achieving optimal wellness. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) provide primary healthcare services to individuals and families, treating both temporary and chronic conditions with safe and effective natural therapies.

NDs aim to address the root causes of illness, accounting for lifestyle factors, environmental influences, health history, and genetic predisposition. By fostering a collaborative doctor–patient relationship, naturopathic doctors empower people to take an active role in their health. NDs complete rigorous training in the medical sciences, clinical diagnosis, and natural treatment. They are fully equipped to provide holistic, comprehensive, and personalized care.

The Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Foundational Concepts of Naturopathic Medicine

The fundamental concepts of naturopathic medicine reflect a holistic approach to health and healing. Emphasizing the connection between people and their environment, naturopathic medicine seeks to restore balance and harmony within the body.

Six core principles drive clinical decision-making in naturopathic medicine and guide all aspects of patient care. Adhering to these central standards for diagnosis and treatment, NDs promote recovery, incorporating the least invasive therapies with the lowest risk.

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Naturopathic medicine values the uniqueness of every person and tailors treatment plans to the specific needs, preferences, and circumstances of each patient. NDs use nature’s healing powers to remove obstacles to recovery, restore balance, and support inherent and natural recuperative processes.

Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)

Naturopathic doctors seek to identify and address the underlying causes of illness while managing and eliminating symptoms. Multiple factors may contribute. To initiate the healing process, these factors or “contributors” must be identified and resolved. NDs help patients harness good health from the inside out by pinpointing the reasons for sickness and disease.

First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

Naturopathic doctors adhere to three basic approaches that safeguard patients’ well-being:

  • Employing methods and therapies that minimize the potential for adverse effects; choosing the gentlest approaches necessary for diagnosis and treatment
  • Steering clear of detrimental symptom suppression when feasible
  • Recognizing and harnessing intrinsic self-healing mechanisms

Doctor as Teacher (Docere)

Patient education is a central part of naturopathic practice. NDs decode the diagnostic and healing processes, empowering patients to make informed health choices. Patients are provided with the tools and understanding needed to actively participate in their own health care.

Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)

Because health and disease are multifactorial, naturopathic doctors take a personalized approach to diagnosis and treatment. NDs treat the individual, accounting for physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. NDs also encourage patients to pursue personal and spiritual development to optimize their health.

Prevention (Preventare)

NDs prioritize disease prevention, addressing risk factors, genetic predisposition, and susceptibility to illness. Through comprehensive evaluations and collaborative discussions with patients, naturopathic doctors create strategies to reduce potential health hazards, thereby restoring wellness and preventing future illness. Proactive interventions may involve lifestyle modifications, nutritional guidance, and stress management techniques. By empowering people to take purposeful steps toward good health, NDs take a pivotal role in fostering long-term vitality.

The Therapeutic Order

The therapeutic order is a framework for naturopathic medicine that guides the treatment approach and prioritizes interventions. This structured method helps determine the most appropriate and effective treatments for individual patients.

Guided by the therapeutic order, NDs address the root causes of illness, support natural healing processes, and select safe, effective treatments that align with the principles of naturopathic medicine.

Seven steps in the therapeutic order delineate the natural sequence of care. Following this hierarchy, NDs can prioritize holistic strategies that stimulate recovery and target peak wellness.

  1. Remove obstacles to health.
  2. Stimulate self-healing mechanisms.
  3. Restore weakened systems.
  4. Correct structural integrity.
  5. Use natural substances to restore and regenerate.
  6. Use pharmacologic substances to halt progressive pathology.
  7. Use high-force interventions to halt pathology.
Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
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Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
Find an ND

The Healing Power of Naturopathic and Integrative Medicine

Naturopathic medicine merges today’s medical knowledge with time-honored natural healing practices. When combined with conventional medicine, this approach is known as integrative medicine. Integrative medicine strengthens the bond between patients and practitioners, prioritizes holistic care, and considers all suitable therapeutic methods. This expanding field has the potential to transform conventional health care by improving outcomes, cutting costs, ensuring patient safety, and increasing patient satisfaction.

Although integrative medicine aligns with personalized, precision, and value-based health services, its widespread adoption as a primary model of care hinges on expanded research, evidence-based practice, patient demand, policy reform, and implementation within existing healthcare systems. The promise of integrative medicine lies in its ability to optimize outcomes and improve quality of life for patients, with holistic care that addresses the complex and interconnected components of health and well-being.

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)


Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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Results: 1) States licensing 2) Public Awareness 3) Residency Access. INM’s priority areas (access, education, research) and initiatives are defined to match survey results.

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