Naturopathic doctors are guided by the following six principles:
1) First do no harm (primum non nocere).
2) Healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae).
3) Identify and treat the cause (tolle causam).
4) Treat the whole person.
5) Doctor as teacher (docere).
6) Disease prevention and health promotion.
The “first do no harm” principle, non-maleficience toward the patient, capitalizes on the use of safe and effective therapeutics that strive to maximize patient health, while minimizing harmful consequences of natural remedies and the body’s natural immune system. By this, naturopathic doctors view the client’s symptomology as a process that will provide a clue to the underlying problem. All this is assessed, taking into consideration factors including, but not limited to, the individual’s history, their lifestyle, diet, and psychological state. All this is accomplished while respecting each client’s autonomy.
The second principle is based upon the premise that nature has the power to heal the physical, emotional and mental state of the client. By capitalizing on the body’s immune defenses, further disease prevention is made possible. Together, the patient and physician identify barriers that inhibit patient health and well-being through the use of compassionate, client-centered care treatment.
The third goal is to identify and treat the cause of disease, rather than mask or merely manage the client’s symptoms. An important adjunct to this principle is the perceived value of bodily symptoms during the process of self-healing. Moreover, ailments cannot be addressed without examination of the root of the problem (psychological, biological, hereditary, etc).
The fourth goal highlights the importance of holistic treatment of the client. An understanding that the client is at the center of a highly interconnected web of variables that affect their perception of wellness is advantageous in discerning the factors affecting health. Additionally, it allows NDs to partly ameliorate, if not dispel, hindrances to patient health and well-being.
The fifth principle states that the naturopathic doctor is a teacher, who has the incumbent responsibility to teach their patient how to balance internal and external factors that effect the patient’s health. In this, the naturopathic doctor’s professional judgment is needed to maximize the patient’s benefits and minimize their harm.
The sixth principle outlines how the aforementioned principles culminate and result in disease prevention and health promotion for the patient, through accommodation of the client’s biopsychosocial needs. Under this principle, optimized daily functioning is indicative of health.