Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a pseudo-scientific form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation. Naturopathy favors a holistic approach with non-invasive treatment and generally avoids the use of surgery and drugs.
Among naturopaths, complete rejection of biomedicine and modern science is common.
The term “naturopathy” is derived from Greek and Latin, and literally translates as “nature disease”. Modern naturopathy grew out of the Natural Cure movement of Europe. The term was coined in 1895 by John Scheel and popularized by Benedict Lust, the “father of U.S. naturopathy”.Beginning in the 1970s, there was a revival of interest in the United States and Canada in conjunction with the holistic health movement.Today, naturopathy is primarily practiced in the United States and Canada. The scope of practice varies widely between jurisdictions, and naturopaths in unregulated jurisdictions may use the Naturopathic Doctor designation or other titles regardless of level of education.
Naturopathic practitioners in the US can be divided into three categories: traditional naturopaths; naturopathic physicians; and other health care providers that provide naturopathic services.Naturopathic physicians employ the principles of naturopathy within the context of conventional medical practices. Naturopathy comprises many different treatment modalities such as nutritional and herbal medicine, lifestyle advice, counseling, flower essence, homeopathy and remedial massage.
Much of the ideology and methodological underpinnings of naturopathy are in conflict with the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM).] Many naturopaths have opposed vaccination based in part on the early views that shaped the profession. According to the American Cancer Society, “scientific evidence does not support claims that naturopathic medicine can cure cancer or any other disease, since virtually no studies on naturopathy as a whole have been published.”