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A system of disease prevention and treatment that avoids drugs and surgery. Naturopathy is based on the use of natural agents such as air, water, light, heat, and massage to help the body heal itself. It also uses herbal products, nutrition, acupuncture, and aromatherapy as forms of treatment.
Source: The website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)

How Naturopathic Doctors Can Help

Source: The Institute for Natural Medicine

Specifically, naturopathic doctors help to:

Naturopathy: An Introduction

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Naturopathy—also called naturopathic medicine—is a medical system that has evolved from a combination of traditional practices and health care approaches popular in Europe during the 19th century. Guided by a philosophy that emphasizes the healing power of nature, naturopathic practitioners now use a variety of traditional and modern therapies. This fact sheet provides a general overview of naturopathy and suggests sources for additional information.

Underlying Principles

The practice of naturopathy is based on principles that are similar to and consistent with the principles of primary care medicine as practiced by conventional physicians. These include:


Naturopathic practitioners use many different treatment modalities. Examples include:

Some practitioners use other treatments as well or, if appropriate, may refer patients to conventional health care providers.

Efficacy and Safety

Some of the individual therapies used in naturopathy have been researched for their efficacy, with varying results. The complex treatment approaches that naturopathic physicians often use are challenging to study, and little scientific evidence is currently available on overall effectiveness. Related research is under way but is in the early stages.

Some studies have shown a few areas of scientific interest to pursue. For example, a study of warehouse employees with chronic low-back pain found that naturopathic care was a more cost-effective approach than standard physiotherapy advice. In another study, postal employees with chronic low-back pain had significantly greater improvement from naturopathic care than from standard physiotherapy advice. Researchers have also found evidence that naturopathic treatment may help improve quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients. A study of treatment approaches for patients with temporomandibular (jaw) disorders found that two complementary health practices—naturopathic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine—both resulted in greater pain reduction than state-of-the-art conventional care.

In assessing the safety of naturopathic care, points to consider include:

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Cancer Treatment Options

Updated 2024

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