Six Principles of Healing
Naturopathic medicine is derived from six principles of healing. These principles are based on an objective observation of the nature of health and disease, and are examined continually in light of scientific analysis.
The following six principles define the profession:
The healing power of nature – vis medicatrix nature
The human body has an intrinsic ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The body’s healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The doctor’s role is to facilitate and augment this process, to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
Identify and treat the cause – tolle causam
Illness occurs with cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and treated before a person can fully recover from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempts to heal itself, but are not the root cause of disease. Because of this, naturopathic medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, rather than the symptoms. Causes may occur on physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual levels. The naturopathic doctor evaluates the underlying causes of illness on all levels, and directs treatment to the root causes while simultaneously seeking to relieve the symptoms.
First do not harm – primum no nocere
The healing process includes the generation of symptoms, expressions of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complementary to, and synergistic with, this healing process. A doctor’s actions can support or antagonize the actions of vis medicatrix naturae; methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized.
Treat the whole person – in perturbato animo sicut in corpore sanitas esse non potest
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, involving a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. A naturopathic doctor takes all of these factors into account, and treats the whole person. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery and prevention of disease, and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
The Doctor as teacher – docere
Beyond accurate diagnosis and appropriate prescription, the doctor works to create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with the patient. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The doctor’s role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for his or her own health. The doctor is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility for personal health. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates or accomplishes healing. The doctor strives to inspire hope as well as understanding. The doctor must also make a commitment to his or her personal and spiritual development.
Prevention – principiis obsta: sero medicina curatur
Prevention is the ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine, and is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that foster good health. The doctor assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to the patient. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease. Because it is difficult to be healthy in an unhealthy world, it is the responsibility of both doctor and patient to create a healthier environment in which to live.