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  • Writer's pictureShelly Hoekstra

Naturopathy: Nature Meets Modern Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a whole medical system centered on the inherent intelligence of natural remedies to induce the self-healing process. It combines traditional practices that recognize the wisdom in nature’s healing powers with conventional, empirically based scientific theory and approaches.

A serene brook filled with stones, sunbeams shining through the trees, nature provides for us

Naturopathy has origins that are centuries old, but it was brought to the United States from Germany in the 1800s. There has been an extraordinary surge in this healthcare modality with the number of physicians tripling in the last ten years.

Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are primary care physicians, as well as specialists, that treat the whole person, mind, body, and spirit. They work to identify root cause instead of suppressing symptoms.


This practice centers on education and prevention and facilitates the body’s intrinsic ability to restore and preserve optimal health. The assessment process is thorough and may include a health history, a stress evaluation, and a look at lifestyle patterns.

Treatments may include:

  • Clinical nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Stress management strategies

  • Craniosacral therapy

  • Massage

  • Herbal medicine

  • Homeopathic medicine

  • Acupuncture

  • Conventional pharmacology

  • Minor surgery

  • Psychotherapy

Naturopathic Doctors

Naturopathic physicians are Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine. They have attended four-year accredited graduate schools and are clinically trained with studies comparable to those of conventional doctors, in addition to diet and nutrition, psychology, and alternative medicine. This results in a comprehensive medical education tantamount to that of MDs and beyond.

Some geographic locations allow for practitioners to prescribe pharmaceutical medications while other do not. NDs are now being covered by a number of insurance companies. You can find these physicians practicing in various clinical settings and treating patients of all ages from pediatric to geriatric care. NDs make referrals when health conditions are beyond their scope of practice but may remain involved to provide supportive treatments and to decrease possible side effects of other interventions.

It is important to understand that there are healthcare providers with varying knowledge in Naturopathic Medicine, some have studied the field while others have doctorates. There are also traditional naturopaths with diverse educations. Traditional naturopaths have not attended four-year medical schools and are not licensed.

Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

These six principles unite naturopathic medicine across the globe:

Do No Harm

Naturopathic medicine utilizes treatments that are gentle, non-toxic, and the least invasive. They work to minimize harmful side effects with natural alternatives.

The Healing Power of Nature

This practice looks to the therapeutic properties in the world of nature. It employs a holistic approach to help induce the body’s natural self-healing process. Methodologies may include the use of natural substances and an examination of the environment, removing any infringements on wellbeing. Lifestyle changes may be necessary.

Identify and Treat the Causes

Naturopathic practitioners focus on determining root cause rather than the suppression of symptoms. This can take some time but eliminating identified barriers leads to an authentic healing process.

Treat the Whole Person

Naturopathy addresses the whole person instead of treating specific ailments. Our complete health is dependent on the powerful interconnections between the mind, body, environment, lifestyle, social relations, and spiritual health.

Doctor as Teacher

Naturopathic physicians educate patients, helping them understand what is needed to obtain and preserve wellness. When patients recognize that they play a role in their own wellbeing and can create self-healing, it is incredibly empowering and helps them take responsibility for their own lives. Knowing the therapeutic value of the doctor/patient relationship and its effects on patients’ progress and long-term wellness, practitioners work to build rapport and trust with their patients.


Naturopathy focuses on whole mind-body healing and prevention of future illness, helping patients not only to get well but to stay well. By identifying potential areas of risk, and by educating patients, long-term wellness is obtainable.

The Alternative Benefits of Naturopathic Doctors

  • NDs treat you as a whole person and are not focused solely on your illness.

  • Practitioners are interested in educating you and helping you to take ownership in your own wellness.

  • The practice utilizes alternative options to pharmaceutical medications, which may be a better option for some people and can eliminate the concern for addiction to particular medications when dealing with chronic illness.

  • Naturopathy looks to identify root cause and future risks allowing for long-term health.

  • NDs may be able to assist you with identifying and addressing an illness that conventional medicine has not been able to.

Naturopathy, an alternative solution for optimal health, working in collaboration with you for the best outcome. It can be invaluable to feel you are not in it alone. Is Naturopathic Medicine a potentially better option for you? Decide for yourself.


Phone: (413) 569-8048


© 2021 Shelly Hoekstra, Life Coach & Alternative Healing

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