Naturopathic Medicine, It’s Future Is Now

Naturopathic Medicine, It’s Future Is Now

The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas A. Edison



These words were uttered by Thomas Edison many years ago. This future doctor aptly describes modern day naturopathic physicians. The founder of naturopathic medicine was Benedict Lust. A German born immigrant who came to America in 1892, he was cured of tuberculosis by Father Sebastian Kneipp in Wörishofen. In 1896 he came back to America as Kneipp’s official representative. This was the start of naturopathy in the United States. The term “naturopathy” was coined in 1892 by the Drs Sheel who combined the terms “nature cure” and “homeopathy”. They gave Lust the right to use this term in association with his ventures. From the very beginning, he intended to combine Kneippism with other nature cure practices. It was Lust’s genius to assemble these various methods and to promote them as a single naturopathic practice.


Modern naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care – an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles upon which its practice is based. These principles are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances. The techniques of naturopathic medicine include modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods. The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:




The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self- healing process in the person that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.


Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam). The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.


First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:


  • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects,

using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;

  • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms;
  • Acknowledge, respect and work with the individuals self-healing process.


Doctor As Teacher (Docere). Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.


Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.


Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease – assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine is committed to the creation of a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.




Naturopathic Methods: Naturopathic medicine is defined by its principles. Methods and modalities are selected and applied based upon these principles in relationship to the individual needs of each patient. Diagnostic and therapeutic methods are selected from various sources and systems, and will continue to evolve with the progress of knowledge.


Naturopathic Practice: Naturopathic practice includes the following diagnostic and therapeutic modalities: nutritional medicine; botanical medicine; naturopathic physical medicine including naturopathic manipulative therapy; public health measures and hygiene; counseling; minor surgery; homeopathy; naturopathic obstetrics (natural childbirth); and appropriate methods of laboratory and clinical diagnosis.




Modern naturopathic training is at a four-year naturopathic medical school. This includes 2 years basic science and therapeutic modalities coursework (anatomy, biochemistry, histology, botanical medicine, homeopathy, etc) followed by two years clinical didactic coursework (oncology, gynecology, cardiology, etc.). In addition, the second two years includes clinical internship in an outpatient naturopathic clinic, during which time the naturopathic medical student hones his or her clinical skills.


There are currently two accredited naturopathic medical schools; Bastyr University located in Bothel, Washington and National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Two other naturopathic medical schools in process of accreditation are Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine.


Dr. Christopher Henderson is a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist. He is a graduate of Bastyr University. Dr. Henderson practices in Santa Rosa at the Optimal Health Center. His services include Naturopathic Healthcare, Acupuncture, Colon Hydrotherapy, and Detoxification. To contact him, please call (707) 942-1250.