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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and Alternative Medicine–Philosophy & Theory

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.

The list of what is considered to be CAM changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. (e.g aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery), as opposed to Alternative medicine which is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a conventional doctor.

Types of complementary medicine include:

  1. Alternative Medical Systems – built upon complete systems of theory and practice (e.g, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda…)
  2. Mind-Body Interventions – uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. (e.g, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy, meditation, prayer…).
  3. Biologically Based Therapies – use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. (e.g, dietary supplements).
  4. Manipulative and Body-Based Methods – based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. (e.g, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage).
  5. Energy Therapies – involve the use of energy fields. (e.g, qi gong, Reiki, therapeutic touch, bioelectromagnetic-based therapies).
Example: Naturopathy

Naturopathic medicine is the application of the principles of naturopathy within the context of modern scientific knowledge that has evolved throughout the last half of the twentieth century. Naturopathic medicine was preceded by naturopathy, and the nature cure. Nature cure was a specific system for treating diseases with natural elements such as water, air, diet, herbs, sunshine and even clothing. This started in nineteenth century Europe. Naturopathy is the combination of nature cure and homeopathy, spinal manipulation and other natural therapies which were developed in early twentieth century America. Naturopathic Medicine is a philosophy and health care approach that takes into consideration one’s view of life (spiritual and emotional), life style, and individual uniqueness. People are treated based on their own individual case rather than generalizations. What this means is that five people are suffering from the flu. Each client ends up receiving a different treatment program because of their individual circumstances of genetics, environment, beliefs, diet and lifestyle. Nutrition is of primary importance in Naturopathy because food is thought of as medicine and fuel for the body. If consume whole, natural foods the body as a machine functions better.

Naturopathic medicine uses a wide array of methods to restore or maintain health and starts with the basics of the nature cure (air, water, light and earth) and uses other modalities like homeopathy, chiropractic, osteopathy, electricity & magnet therapy and various forms of therapeutic massage. Naturopathic medicine is based upon the laws of nature, primarily the law of cause and effect believing that for every action, there is a reaction.


The evolution of Naturopathic Medicine occurred over several hundred years. Long before the modernization of our world, people looked to nature for cures. Native Americans, Chinese, Aborigines, and many other cultures have recognized the power and importance of nature. Many Europeans and Americans are credited with the evolution of naturopathic medicine each building upon what others had done adding their own variation to the processes and techniques based on their individual experiences. Several of them achieved medical degrees in hopes of influencing the medical (allopathic) community. Most of them found their way to natural cures because of their debilitating illness.

Naturopathic Medicine continues to evolve as we learn more about the body as energetic beings.

Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine (also known as Naturopathy)

The philosophy of Naturopathy is that human life is governed by the same self-regulating, self-repairing forces that care for living things. As long as the laws of nature are followed, a cure for illness can be achieved. They see the meaning of disease as one health, one disease, the disease being the absence of health or bad blood. The treatment methods used are natural, using readily available resources such as food, touch, and water but do not require specific products.

The principles of naturopathy are:
1. Do no harm (don’t do anything that causes harm to the patient)
2. Use the healing power of nature (air, water, plants, earth, sun, moon, animals)
3. Find the cause (discover the cause or focus of the problem, don’t get hung up on or misled by symptoms)
4. Treat the whole person (work with the mind, body and spirit)
5. Practice preventative care (teach clients about natural methods for achieving good health)
6. Empower the client (work as a facilitator by providing the client with tools for making their own decisions)

According to naturopathic philosophy, the cause of disease is a violation of nature’s law. This can happen through inappropriate actions. These include but are not limited to what you think, eat, how and what you breathe, drink, what and how you do for a living, how much and the quality of rest you get, your social behaviors or sexual conduct. Nutrition is of primary importance with sufficient rest being a close second. When we are receiving proper nutrition and adequate rest our vitality is strong which keeps us in a positive state of health. When this is not the case, our vitality is lowered and our ability to maintain a healthy state is reduced. If this continues, a negative state is reached, which is also called a disease state.

Benefits & Results

The Benefits of Naturopathic Medicine are:

  • Operates in accordance with the laws of nature
  • Teaches people methods to achieve and maintain good health
  • Uses a wide variety of treatment modalities allowing great flexibility in meeting individual client needs
  • Achieves safe, long lasting results through non-invasive methods of treatment
  • Works in harmony with the body, mind and spirit

The Results of Naturopathic Medicine are:

Results achieved through Naturopathic approaches have been quite remarkable. People have achieved significant relief and even been cured from simple to complex diseases. Naturopathic medicine works because it is in accordance with the laws of nature by using natural approaches and substances. Our bodies are beings of nature and are designed to respond to nature. Each cell, molecule, micron, electron and fiber of the body has a biological function to serve. When we introduce unnatural substances into our bodies such as drugs or unnecessary surgeries, we interrupt the intent of the biological function and cause confusion to the body. This bodily confusion ultimately ends up in a state of disease if it is not corrected. True correction or resolution happens only when the laws of nature are followed.

Early nature doctors were able to cure themselves from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, cancer, phlebitis, diabetes, pleurisy, asthma, severe injury just to name a few. Recent results include elimination and/or alleviation of problems and or diseases like (but not limited to):

acne, allergies, alzeimer’s, anemia, anxiety, appetite control; arteriosclerosis; arthritis; attention deficit; chronic fatigue syndrome; colitis; crohn’s disease; epilepsy; fibromyalgia; gallstones; gout; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; hormone inbalances; hyper-glycemia; infertility; insomnia; menopause; parasites; Parkinson’s; PMS; pneumonia; psoriasis; shingles; ulcers; varicise veins …….

How is it possible that your diet can actually cause disease?

The digestive system is one of the main keys to good health. Our digestive system, when in good health, can process the food we eat and assimilate the nutrition we need and eliminate the toxins and wastes we don’t need. When we consume foods that are high in protein, acids, and other pathogens (toxin creating agents), we overload our system. These toxins remain in our system rather than being flushed out and disease occurs. When we stop consuming the foods that cause these problems, our bodies can recover and return to homeostasis (balance) if we haven’t done too much damage. There are seventeen elements that must be present in our bodies to maintain health. If these elements are present in amounts that are too high or too low, a state of disease will occur. The standard American diet (also known as SAD) consists of meat, white bread, potato, coffee or tea and desserts. These foods are high in refined flour and sugar, stimulants and fat and contain little of the vital mineral substances we need. If we consume foods that have amounts of positive alkaline, mineral elements in the live organic form, raw foods, fruits, vegetables and herbs, lean meats, and get plenty of rest, we are able to process the foods normally with no ill effects. The foods and medicines that best serve our bodies can be found directly from nature. Think of food as fuel or medicine for your body.

Is a Naturopath a holistic practitioner?

Yes. A holistic practitioner is one that sees the approach to well being as a triune. The triune consists of mind, body and spirit. The elements of the triune must be in balance for a person to be well, or “whole”. Naturopaths work with the “whole” person which is where the term holistic actually came from. This “whole” approach includes their environment, belief system (mental and emotional state), spirituality, diet and general approach to life.

What are the elements of Naturopathic medicine?

Over the years, there have been many different approaches to natural curing methods. What tends to be included are:

  • a modified vegetarian diet
  • life style adjustments as appropriate
  • rational dress (natural fabrics and materials that fit comfortably – not tight
  • appropriate amounts of rest and relaxation
  • use of water, air, light, electricity, hot or cold hydrotherapy
  • phototherapy and chromotherapy
  • chemical remedies- both herbs and homeopathics
  • mechanical therapies– osteopathy, chiropractic, naprapathy and neuropathy
  • Swedish movement
  • massage
  • emphasis on the mental and emotional states

The mind is also quite important in achieving health. Positive thinking and affirmations help patients change their thinking to create improved health. Mental conditions result from abnormal physiology and chemistry. Naturopathic medicine focuses on teaching rather than prescribing because it makes the patient healthier, more self sufficient and responsible for their own well being.

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