Most prevalent in alternative medicine are the six naturopathic principles. In one form or another, these principles are revisited again and again throughout Section Two of this text. The following principles are described by Dr. Catherine Downey and excerpted from her chapter on naturopathic medicine. The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent: nature heals through the response of the life force. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment this process, to act to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment. In short, give the body the appropriate tools and it will heal itself. Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, involving a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account.
The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. The process of healing includes the generation of symptoms, which are, in fact, an expression of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complementary to and synergistic with this healing process. The physician’s actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis mediatrix naturae; therefore methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized. Therapeutic actions are applied in an ordered fashion congruent with the internal order of the organism. The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that create good health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to the patient. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease. Because it is difficult to be healthy in an unhealthy world, it is the responsibility of both the physician and patient to create a healthier environment in which to live.