(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 and yoga.

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 limited.


"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.


Barrett, Stephen. 1980. The Health Robbers: How To Protect Your Money and Your Life. George F. Stickley Co.

Gardner, Martin. 1957. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Dover Publications, New York.

Hastings, A.C., Fadiman, J., Gordon, J.S. Editors. 1981. Health for the Whole Person: The Complete Guide to Holistic Medicine. Bantam Books, NY.

Kopelman, L., and Moskop, J. The Holistic Health Movement: A Survey and Critique. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. May 1981. 6:209-35.

Raso, Jack. 1994. "Alternative" Healthcare. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York.

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From:  Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc