Defining Naturopathic Medicine
The human body is an amazing thing. Even before the advent of modern medical technology, it had an inborn ability to naturally heal itself. Naturopathic doctors focus on this ability to help get their patients to their peak physical and mental health. They do this by helping their patients understand how exercise, diet, natural therapies, and lifestyle changes can contribute to preventing diseases and quick healing.
We’re all well-acquainted with the invasive treatments that most doctors provide, but naturopathy focuses on therapies like homeopathy, herbal medicine, and other natural treatments to provide the best care for a patient whenever possible. In addition, naturopathy can help bring out the full benefits of other types of holistic treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture.
Although the word “naturopathy” has only been in use for just over a hundred years, the basic principles have been in practice since ancient times. Hippocrates (460 – 359 B.C.), the Greek physician who lent his name to the physician’s Hippocratic oath, is often considered the predecessor of naturopathic physicians, particularly in his belief that “nature is healer of all diseases.” This remains the central theme of naturopathic medicine today.
Modern naturopathy began in the late 1800’s, and was popularized by Benedict Lust, the “father of U.S. naturopathy.” After becoming stricken with a disease, Lust returned to Germany to seek out the natural healing properties of the waters and springs. Upon his recovery, he returned to the United States, where he opened an early version of a health food store and began spreading the word about natural medicine. He went on to open the American School of Naturopathy in New York, the first school of its kind in the world.
As science continued to make enormous breakthroughs throughout the 20th century, naturopathy took a backseat to “modern medicine” until the 1970’s, when a more natural, holistic approach to health and well-being once again surged in popularity. Today, more people than ever are turning to naturopathy as a natural, lower-cost solution to “conventional medicine” and “miracle drugs.”