Traditional Naturopathy — What Is It, Really?

By Mary Light

Source: Gabriel Pangilinan; https://unsplash.com/@gubgubs

Source: Gabriel Pangilinan; https://unsplash.com/@gubgubs

Traditional Naturopathy has been around in our country since the 1800s, as a drugless system of healthcare and medicine. A man named Benedict Lust is more or less historically credited as a “founding father” of the system of naturopathy. Many others have contributed to its development.

Wikipedia puts it this way: “Benedict Lust was a pioneer in what has come to be called Classical Naturopathy and a facilitator of holistic methods in the United States. Lust was born in Michelbach, Baden, Germany. As a youth, he became ill and was cured by Fr. Sebastian Kneipp, a famous advocate of the water cure, a popular form of healing in the 19th century. He eventually traveled to the United States as Kneipp's official representative and in the late 1890s organized the water cure movement, especially among the many first generation German Americans….  Lust studied osteopathy and various schools of healing that eschewed the use of drugs and surgery. By 1900, Lust was looking toward a new synthesis of nonintrusive healing arts, which he termed naturopathy (a name he actually purchased from a colleague: Dr John Scheel).”

Fast forward to 1945 — when Benedict Lust died. By then, a movement was slowly gaining ground for a split between naturopaths — one group believing that Traditional, Classical Naturopathy is effective and should evolve and be preserved; the other believing that the direction “naturopathy” should take was one encompassing the allopathic medical model.
So we now have two different types of naturopathy.  We are going to focus on Traditional (classical) Naturopathy here, which is a profession, study, and healing art system gaining momentum in our current days, particularly through the establishment of schools throughout the country, and the proliferation of qualified practitioners successfully graduating from these schools, which feature School Licensure in their respective states. There are International Benchmarks — standards for training — written up by the World Health Organization (WHO);   the PDF is here: http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s17553en/s17553en.pdf.

Forward now to today — 2016.  Here in Michigan there are two State Licensed schools categorized under “naturopathic medicine” which train in Traditional Naturopathy and follow the WHO Benchmarks of Training. This is diploma level training inclusive of a Clinical Internship.

A Traditional Naturopath — an ND —  is dedicated to utilizing nature's healing powers in a healthcare system to help others. The practice is distinguished by six well-established principles that underlie and determine education and practice protocols:

  1. Do No Harm
  2. Treat the Whole Person — Holistic Healing
  3. Identify and Treat the Causes: Foundational Healing
  4. Utilize The Healing Power of Nature
  5. The Doctor as Teacher and Facilitator
  6.  Promoting Wellness through Supportive Counsel


Interestingly, the word “doctor” has come from the Latin docere (dōˑ·se·rā). Docere is a Latin word that means to “instruct, teach, or point out.” Doctor as Teacher is a very old, founding, and classical tenet of traditional naturopathy, one which accompanied both types of naturopath groups when they split decades ago, as mentioned earlier. Traditional Naturopaths are trained to spend quality time with their clients, to teach them about healing and health, how to use remedies, how to understand treatments, and how protocols work. They are trained to refer to many other practitioners and doctors whenever the need arises. 

There are many hundreds of Traditional Naturopaths in all 50 states working successfully to help clients with health and wellness goals. To achieve this, they assess for health information in many different non-intrusive ways, and then put this data to work to draw upon a wide range of health building modalities. Their Scope of Practice includes many versions of the following areas:

Bodywork
Diet/Nutrition
Herbal Medicine
Movement Therapeutics
Hydrotherapy
Energy Medicine
Education and Counsel
Rest and Sleep Dynamics


Mary Light, N.D., M.H., L.M.T., is a Traditional Naturopath and Consultant Herbalist in general private practice in Ann Arbor, offering health services for all integrated body systems. She is also director of Naturopathic School of the Healing Arts and Gaia Center for Herbal Studies, which offer several levels of training in the naturopath/herbal medicine field. Learn more on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Naturopathic-School-of-the-Healing-Arts-284853631099/?ref=hl


Posted on October 11, 2016 and filed under Naturopathy.