What is naturopathy? Explanation of a natural alternative medicine

This article was written with the help and advice of Véronique Vauclaire, a French naturopath.

What is naturopathy? Definition and techniques

Naturopathy finds its origins in Ancient Greece. It consists in a set of practices that aim to help the body in its self-healing processes through purely natural methods. It tries to strengthen the body’s natural defenses by promoting personal hygiene through diet, exercise and stress reduction. It is a holistic method that avoids surgery and drugs.

Naturopathy uses very diverse methods and techniques to heal people: these are all part of alternative, non-invasive medicines that work towards strengthening the body through natural means. These include phytotherapy, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, Reiki, meditation, yoga, osteopathy, homeopathy, dietetics…


Naturopathy: who benefits from it?

First of all, naturopathy can be beneficial for healthy individuals who want to remain in good shape.

Regarding those suffering from illness, naturopathy aims to stimulate the body’s natural capacities to self-heal, thus attempting to strengthen and nourish the pre-existing mechanisms of the body instead of simply treating the symptoms. This is because addressing only the noticeable symptoms and ignoring the cause can lead to:

  • A risk of the issue coming up repeatedly
  • A risk of other organs being affected by the disease in the future
  • A risk of the illness manifesting itself through more intense and dangerous symptoms in the future.

Thus, without properly treating the causes of the disease, the consequences can be very serious. Naturopathy tries to bring the individual back to their optimal health instead of making a symptom disappear to pretend the issue isn’t there. It can also be used along with allopathic medicine (“mainstream” medicine) to mitigate the secondary effects of those treatments or to strengthen the effectiveness of indispensable drugs. Naturopathy isn’t meant to be a replacement for other medical advice and follow-ups, but should be used as a complementary medicine.


The 4 rules of naturopathy

Naturopathy follows the recommendations of the Hippocratic corpus, which can be summarized through four rules:

Primum non nocere – first do not harm

The symptoms of an illness are the proof of a healing process: your body shows symptoms when it is trying to fight back an infection. Thus, the aim isn’t to fight against those symptoms, but rather to help them to serve their purpose.


Vis medicatix naturae – the healing power of nature

The body has the capacity to keep itself in good health, and to restore its health when it is lost. Thus, our role is to make it easier for the body to self-heal, not to intervene in the process.


Tolle causam – remove the cause

The symptoms and the illness are not indicators of the real deregulations going on inside our bodies. It is only by identifying and getting rid of the profound causes of the dysfunctions, by re-establishing the natural balance, that the individual can recover their health.


Docere – to teach

Naturopaths are, before anything else, educators. They are meant to teach individuals about their health and give lifestyle coaching by a cautious observation of their ailments. They show people how to take care of their health through a holistic approach.


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