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History Of Naturopathy

What is Naturopathy?

"Naturopathy: a distinct system of non-invasive healthcare and health assessment in which neither surgery nor drugs are used, dependence being placed only on education, counseling, naturopathic modalities and natural substances, including without limitation, the use of foods, food extracts, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, digestive aids, botanical substances, topical natural substances, homeopathic preparations, air, water, heat, cold, sound, light, the physical modalities of magnetic therapy, naturopathic non-manipulative bodywork and exercise to help stimulate and maintain the individual's intrinsic self-healing processes."

History of Naturopathy

Dr. Benedict Lust (1872-1925) relocated to New York in the late 1800's on a mission to bring "Drugless Nature Medicine" to the United States from Germany. After being arrested more than 30 times by the New York authorities and at least 3 times by federal authorities, Lust tired of the fight. Dr. Lust said, "The prosecution became so intense that we could not use the words cure, healing, therapy, therapist, physician, doctor, or any other similar title. We were all in despair. Finally, we decided to use the word 'naturopath' as being the only safe term by which we could designate ourselves as having to do with nature cure and disease. This was the magic word that would set us free." (Nature Doctors: Pioneers in Naturopathic Medicine by Friedhelm Kirchfeld & Wade Boyle, 1994. Available from Medicina Biologica).

The term 'Naturopath' now distinguishes the profession of "Drugless Practitioners" from others. It was from this experience that Dr. Lust decided that Naturopaths should never use the term 'medical' with or near the term 'Naturopathy.' Furthermore, Dr. Lust considered the practice of Naturopathy to be educating others in a 'way of life,' not a treatment for 'disease.' Dr Benedict Lust states, "Naturopathy is the mother, all-inclusive, of natural therapy. It is the basic platform for all methods of healing; without it any healing art will be a failure." (Nature Doctors). Here is a summary of the principles of Naturopathy.

A. "vis medicatrix naturae" The Healing Power of Nature. Naturopathic practitioners trust that the body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent, nature heals through the response of the life force. The physician's role is to facilitate and augment this process and act to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.

B. "tolle causam" Identify and heal the cause. Illness does not occur without a cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body's attempt to heal, but not the cause of disease. Symptoms therefore should not be suppressed by treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes rather than at symptomatic expression.

C. "primum no nocere" First do no harm. Illness is a purposeful process of the organism. The process of healing includes the generation of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complimentary to and synergistic with this healing process. The physician's actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis medicatrix naturae. Therefore, methods are designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized.

D. "docere" Doctor means "teacher." The term "doctor" is derived from "docere," a Latin word which designated a teacher. It apparently was first employed in the 12th Century in the school of Bologna, being conferred upon those of the legal profession. The French gave the degree of "doctor" to graduates in the schools of divinity and later a similar degree was bestowed to both the religious and legal professionals. Beginning in about 1360 the title and degree of doctor was applied to those in the fields of philosophy, literature and music and to those in other academic crafts and sciences as well as those from divinity and legal schools. The doctor is to teach the patient the elements necessary to restore proper structure and functioning of the body, so as to release and stimulate the vital force to normalize. Good health is produced in this manner through the medium of education (educate, Latin, "to lead'). In this sense education, through the medium of "Logos" (the spoken word) can be considered medicinal.

E. phyein / physis / physicos / Physician means "healing by means of nature." Phyein is the Greek derivative from which the word "physician" originates and is means "to produce or grow." Later this term was applied to a grower of medicinal herbs and plants, evolving subsequently to "physis" meaning "nature," thence into "physikos" meaning "natural," an allusion to the natural origin of plants that were used in healing. Later, the term "physis," or "the art of healing by natural means with herbs and other natural substances," was evolved and finally led to the title of "physician" designating "one who heals by natural methods."

F. "medico" Medicine means "to heal." Medicine is derived from the Latin word, "medico," meaning "to heal." Thus, the science and art of the prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease – restoring and preserving health. Now, unfortunately, commonly understood, in a much narrower sense, to only mean drugs and their preparations. The ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of life-habits that create good health. The Naturopath 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.

G. Addressing and healing the whole person. Recognize the multifactorial nature of health and disease. Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, a whole, involving complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The physician must assess and address the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease, and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to assessment and healing.