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Naturopathy

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Oct 2021
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Naturopathy began as a formal health care discipline in the US during the early 1900s. Founded on the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes

  • Prevention and treatment of disease through a healthy lifestyle

  • Treatment of the whole patient

  • Use of the body’s natural healing abilities

Naturopathy uses a combination of therapies, including acupuncture, counseling, exercise therapy, botanicals, hydrotherapy, nutrition, physical therapies (eg, heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, massage), guided imagery, and stress management.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians encourages using vaccinations according to guidelines from authoritative sources (eg, United States Public Health Service) when contraindications are lacking.

Evidence for Naturopathy

Many naturopathic diagnostic and treatment methods have limited or low-quality evidence. Intravenous vitamin C infusions are commonly given by naturopathic providers despite lack of high-quality evidence for efficacy (1 References Naturopathy began as a formal health care discipline in the US during the early 1900s. Founded on the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes Prevention and treatment of disease through... read more ), although the therapy appears to be safe (2 References Naturopathy began as a formal health care discipline in the US during the early 1900s. Founded on the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes Prevention and treatment of disease through... read more ). Many of the studies of the naturopathic approach are small but have demonstrated non-inferiority to conventional medicine approaches and cost effectiveness at times. The whole-system, whole-patient philosophy approach of naturopathy has shown benefit in patients with heart disease, pain, type 2 diabetes, and mental health and other chronic health conditions (3 References Naturopathy began as a formal health care discipline in the US during the early 1900s. Founded on the healing power of nature, naturopathy emphasizes Prevention and treatment of disease through... read more ).

References

  • 1. Fritz H, Flower G, Weeks L: Intravenous vitamin C and cancer: a systematic review. Integr Cancer Ther 13(4):280-300, 2014. doi: 10.1177/1534735414534463

  • 2. van Gorkom GNY, Lookermans EL, Van Elssen CHMJ, et al: The effect of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in the treatment of patients with cancer: A systematic review. Nutrients 11(5):977, 2019. doi: 10.3390/nu11050977

  • 3. Myers SP, Vigar V: The state of the evidence for whole-system, multi-modality naturopathic medicine: A systematic scoping review. J Altern Complement Med 25(2):141-168, 2019. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0340

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