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  • Bethany Waller, ND

The Principles of Naturoapthic Medicine



Naturoapthic medicine is guided by principles which inform everything from how we view disease process to how we develop treatment plans for patients. It may be helpful for you to understand them when you work with a naturopathic doctor as your health care guide.


First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere): Doing no harm is the basis of the hippocratic oath for all physicians. Naturopathic physicians aim to facilitate the body's own healing capacity by utilizing the least forceful intervention as possible. First doing no harm involves avoiding unnecessary interventions, not adding to progression of disease and working with each patient's preferences to develop a treatment plan that works for them!


Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam): Treating the cause means being a good diagnostician. It is important for N.Ds to have thorough differential diagnoses and work ups in order to identify and treat the cause. Treating the whole often means getting to the true basis of disease rather than treating the symptoms that may arise from it.


Treat the Whole Person (Tolle totum): Treating the whole person means to take into account every aspect of an individual that contributes to their health including mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, physical, social and economic factors. Even when a pathology seems exclusively rooted in one of these areas, treating the whole ultimately leads to a more vital and resilient individual on every level, and often to a more lasting cure.


The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): The healing power of nature is the recognition of the innate healing abilities of the body, as well as the recognition of the what we call the determinants of health and supporting these through development of treatment plans that are mindful of the therapeutic order. Check out my other blogs on the determinants of health and the therapeutic order.

Prevention (Prevenir): Prevention of disease includes modifying risk factors an susceptibility to disease through foundations of health and impacting healthful lifestyle choices individual to each person's needs and abilities.


Doctor as Teacher (Docere): The principle of doctor as teacher which allows naturoapthic doctors to walk alongside patients on their healing journeys. Docere is the principle that encourages N.Ds to spend more time with their patients in order to get a thorough history (which also allows us to treat the whole and the cause), but also to take the time to counsel lifestyle changes we often employ in our treatment plans. This extra time allows for the development of a therapeutic relationship, which is essential for a patient to feel comfortable sharing all aspects of their lives and may also be inherently healing in itself and be supported to take charge of their health.


Have you experienced these principles in your life? In what ways would working with a provider who is guided by these principles change your health care experience? Feel free to reach out to me if you'd like to discuss. I'd love to hear form you! In the meantime, you can find more information on the definition of naturopathic medicine and the principles, and find a naturopathic doctor near, you online at American Association of Naturopathic Physician's website, https://naturopathic.org.

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© 2020 Bethany Waller

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