(Investigator 180, 2018 May)
Naturopathy or natural medicine, is a pseudoscientific approach to
health care based on the belief that the basic cause of disease is a
blockage of the "life force". This supposedly causes "imbalances"
leading to disease. By eliminating these blockages, it is claimed that
the increased life force detoxifies the body.
Naturopathy employs a variety of methods, many of which are vitalistic.
They include acupuncture, herbalism, homoeopathy, fasting, vitamins,
colonic irrigation, reflexology and physical medicine (manipulation of
muscles, bones, spine and physiotherapy).
The term "naturopathy" was coined by German homoeopath John H. Sheel in
1895 in New York, and the practice was introduced into the United
States by Benedict Lust. Lust taught and practised the therapies and
techniques popularised by the European "water doctor", Father Sebastian
Kneipp. In 1900, Kneipp practitioners broadened the scope of their
practice to include homoeopathy, botanical and nutritional therapies,
psychology and electrotherapy. Ultimately, this was increased to
include acupuncture, astrology, biofeedback, chiropractic, homoeopathy,
manipulation, macrobiotics, self-massage, shiatsu, therapeutic touch
Although there was a decline in naturopathy with the rise and
popularity of pharmaceutical drugs in the 1940s and 1950s, since the
1970s, naturopathic medicine has experienced a resurgence in popularity.
Although some states in America recognise naturopathy as a separate and
distinct healing profession, prescribing drugs or engaging in
procedures specifically assigned by law to medical practitioners is
"Naturopaths believe in the healing power of nature".
They purport to restore and maintain optimum health in their patients
by emphasising nature's inherent capacity to heal. That health and
disease comes from an interaction of physical, emotional, dietary,
genetic and lifestyle factors, and that nature acts through healing
mechanisms in the body and mind to restore and maintain health. They
maintain that non-invasive treatments are more natural and therefore
safer, and reduce the possibility of harmful side-effects.
See under individual therapy headings such as acupuncture, massage,
biofeedback, homoeopathy, vitamins, herbal remedies, macrobiotics etc.
Naturopathy is a vitalistic healing system, a doctrine which posits
that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle
distinct from physiochemical forces — a paranormal belief which
overstates the body's self-healing power. "Natural" is equated with
safety, and "that it works" is accepted as proof, the efficacy of
naturopathy being gauged by subjective experience. However, the risks
involved in reliance on naturopathic remedies are manifold. Not the
least of which is the inadequate scope and quality of naturopathic
training. This inhibits the practitioner from making adequate
diagnosis, and therefore, the ability to provide appropriate treatment.
Whereas most doctors rely on sound science, naturopathy rests on
unsubstantiated belief systems and false ideas. The industry is rampant
with quackery and the utmost caution is advisable.
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