Naturopathy Yesterday

Naturopathy was first introduced in the United States in 1902 by Dr. Benedict Lust, a German immigrant, when he established the American School of Naturopathy. The term naturopathy itself was coined in 1985 by Dr. John Scheel of New York City and was purchased from him by Dr. Lust. Dr. Lust used the term to describe an eclectic collection of natural doctrines, or principlesthat he believed would become the foundation of natural medicine.

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Naturopathy Today

Naturopathy is recognized today as a comprehensive and life-affirming approach to primary care. Naturopathic physicians are licensed to practice in sixteen states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands:  Alasks, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.   In Vermont, the Vermont legislature mandated in 2007, and again in 2011, that all health insurers in Vermont designate naturopaths as primary care providers.

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Primum non nocere

Naturopathic medical practice is grounded in principles of natural healing. The first of these is primum non nocere, which means first, do no harm in Latin. The principle of primum non nocere is a principle that naturopathic medicine shares with allopathic medicine.  It refers to the physician's responsibility to first and foremost to avoid using treatments that cause harm. This principle is more complex than one might think.

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Tolle Causam & Vis Medicatrix Naturae

It was Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived over 2000 years ago, who characterized biological organisms as active participants in processes of injury and illness. He believed that the symptoms that they produced in response to toxic influences were evidence that the body was attempting to restore balance after becoming disturbed. Their capacity to self-regulate was what distinguished them from non-living matter. From this, it followed that the physician's job was, first, to find the originating imbalance and, second, to support nature so that it can do its job as effectively as possible.

Tolle causamfind the underlying cause, and vis medicatrix naturaethe healing power of nature, are two naturopathic principles that represent this approach to the practice of medicine.

Tolle Totem & Docere

Tolle totemtreat the whole, and docere, to teach, are two other principles which naturopaths use to guide their practice.  The first, tolle totem, refers to the process of looking at the whole person rather than just a part, such as a limb, like the arm or leg, or an organ, like the kidney or the lungs.  In holism, the whole is presumed to be more than the sum of its individual parts.  For the naturopath, this means that it will only be possible to accurately identify (1) the underly cause of an illness and (2) the best strategies to evoke the organism's capacity to self-regulate, if the person is evaluated as an integrated whole. Furthermore, since it is in the inherent nature of this unified organism to self-heal, the best approach to treatment is one which empowers the person to take responsibility for his or her own healing.  The naturopathic concept of docere embodies this principle.  

Wellness & Prevention  

Given the understanding that biological systems are active in the healing process, it stands to reason that they are also active in the process of maintaining balance.  That is to say, it is part of their inherent nature to sustain wellness -- the state of homeodynamic resilience in an ever-changing environment.  One of the ways that naturopaths help individuals promote wellness, therein preventing disease, is by assessing an individual's risk factors and heriditary susceptibility to disease and teaching appropriate interventions to support the person's innate capacity to experience in an ongoing way physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.  

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On the art of healing

Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.

Mevlana Rumi (1207 - 1273)