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  • Unifying Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

    May 22, 2023 4 min read

    naturopathyNaturopathy was founded in the United States in 1901 by Benedict Lust, MD who collaborated with other leaders to build the profession.

    Naturopathy emerged, grew, and began to thrive. It grew from Naturopathy into Naturopathic medicine starting in the 1960's. Now there are approximately 100,000 naturopaths worldwide.

    The following are the definitions of the unifying Principles of Naturopathic Medicine.

    Vis Medicatrix Naturae - The Healing Power Of Nature

    The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organising and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognises this healing process to be ordered and intelligent. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to support, facilitate and augment this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery, and by supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.

    Tolle Causam - Identify And Treat The Causes

    Illness does not occur without cause. Causes may originate in many areas. Underlying causes of illness and disease must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. Symptoms can be expressions of the body’s attempt to defend itself, to adapt and recover, to heal itself, or may be results of the causes of disease. The naturopathic physician seeks to treat the causes of disease, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.

    Primum Non Nocere - First Do No Harm

    Naturopathic physicians follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient:

  • Naturopathic physicians utilise methods and medicinal substances which minimise the risk of harmful effects and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.
  • Whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.
  • Naturopathic physicians respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturaein diagnosis, treatment and counselling, for if this self-healing process is not respected the patient may be harmed.

  • Docere - Doctor As Teacher

    The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. A principal objective of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasise self-responsibility for health. Naturopathic physicians also recognise and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.

    Preventare - Prevention

    Naturopathic medical colleges emphasise the study of health as well as disease. The prevention of disease and the attainment of optimal health in patients are primary objectives of naturopathic medicine. In practice, these objectives are accomplished through education and the promotion of healthy ways of living. Naturopathic physicians assess risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine asserts that one cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment and is committed to the creation of a world in which humanity may thrive.


    1. Zeff JL, Snider P, Myers S. A Hierarchy of Healing: The Therapeutic Order. The Unifying Theory of Naturopathic Medicine. Pizzorno JE, Murray M, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Missouri: Churchill Livingston; 2006.

    2. Zeff JL, Snider P, Myers S, DeGrandpre Z. A Hierarchy of Healing: The Therapeutic Order. A Unifying Theory of Naturopathic Medicine. Pizzorno JE, Murray M, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Missouri: Churchill Livingston; 2013.

    3. Zeff JL, Snider P, Myers S, DeGrandpre Z. A Hierarchy of Healing: The Therapeutic Order. A Unifying Theory of Naturopathic Medicine. Pizzorno JE, Murray M, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Missouri: Churchill Livingston; 2019.

    4. Pizzorno JE, Snider P, Micozzi MS. Contemporary Naturopathic Medicine. Micozzi MS, ed. Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingston; 20012nd. ed

    5. Pizzorno JE, Snider P, Micozzi MS. Contemporary Naturopathic Medicine. Micozzi MS, ed. Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingston; 2006. 3rd. ed

    6. Pizzorno JE, Snider P, Katzinger J. Micozzi MS. Contemporary Naturopathic Medicine. Micozzi MS, ed. Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingston; 2011. 4th. ed.

    7. Pizzorno JE, Snider P, Micozzi MS. Contemporary Naturopathic Medicine. Micozzi MS, ed. Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingston; 2015. 5th.ed.

    8. Pizzorno JE, Snider P. Nature Cure, Naturopathy, and Natural Medicines. Micozzi MS, ed. Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingston; 2015. 5th. ed.

    9. Stargrove MB, Snider P., Mehrmann C. The Naturopathic Medicine History and Professional Formation Timeline: A Living Chronicle - A Tapestry of People, Institutions and Events. In: Snider P, Zeff J, Pizzorno J, et al., eds. The Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine - The Healing Power of Nature. American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Convention, July 12-14, 2018: Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Institute - Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project; 2018.

    10. Select Committee on the Definition of Naturopathic Medicine. Snider P, Zeff J, co-chairs Definition of naturopathic medicine: AANP House Of Delegates Position Paper. Rippling River, OR: 1989.

    11. Select Committee on the Definition of Naturopathic Medicine, AANP 1987-1989. Report submitted to AANP in. 1988, final recommendation submitted to AANP House of Delegates, September 1989. 12. Snider P, Zeff J. 1987-1989. Personal letters and communications.

    13. Zeff J. Convention theme: “What is a naturopathic physician?” AANP Q News (1988) 3 1-11.

    14. Snider P., Zeff J. Definition of naturopathic medicine: first draft. AANP Q News (1988) 3 6-8.

    15. Dictionary of Occupational Titles. vol 1 3rd ed U.S. Department of Labor: Washington, DC.

    16. Schram A. Acts and laws. In: Yearbook of the International Society of Naturopathic Physicians & Emerson University Research Council. International Society of Naturopathic Physicians: Los Angeles.


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