Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link



Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Feb 2019| Content last modified Feb 2019
Click here for the Professional Version

Naturopathy, which draws on practices from many cultures, began as a formal health care system in the United States in the early 1900s. Founded on the notion of the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes the following:

  • Prevention and treatment of disease through a healthy lifestyle

  • Treatment of the whole person

  • Use of the body’s innate healing abilities

Naturopathy also focuses on finding the cause of the disease rather than merely treating symptoms. Some of this system’s principles are not that different from those of traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

Naturopathy uses a combination of therapies, including the following:

  • Diet

  • Nutritional supplementation, often through infusion

  • Acupuncture

  • Physical therapies (such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasonography, and massage)

  • Exercise therapy

  • Hydrotherapy (agitated warm water or cold water applications)

Some naturopathic practitioners advocate practices that are not supported by scientific evidence. Hydrotherapy is an example. Also, some practitioners discourage childhood vaccinations despite studies having proven that vaccinations prevent disorders and death and that benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh risks.

Few well-designed studies of naturopathic therapies have been done.

More Information about Naturopathy

  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Naturopathy

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Test your knowledge

Computerized Tomography (CT)
In computerized tomography (CT), x-ray images of the body are taken from multiple angles and converted by a computer into images resembling 2- and 3-dimensional slices (cross-sections). People having a CT scan are asked to remove all jewelry and metal items such as zippers and belt buckles located near the body part being scanned. Why are patients asked to remove metal before having a CT scan?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID