Naturopathy is a system of healing that developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Naturopaths have a reverence for nature and believe in healing by enhancing the strength and health of the individual rather than treating specific diseases. It was developed through the work of Dr. Benjamin Lust, a German physician who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1892.
Dr. Lust was a proponent of hydrotherapy, the use of water cures to treat illness. The practice evolved to include many therapies, including homeopathy, manual manipulation, and the use of herbs. The term “naturopathy” was coined by a New York physician, Dr. John Scheel; the term was meant to describe the evolving system of natural therapies.
The practice of naturopathy diminished through the first 2/3 of the 20th century. Since the 1970s, however, there has been increasing interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM), and there has been resurgence in interest in naturopathy.
Naturopathic physicians are trained in nutrition (and the use of nutritional supplements, the use of herbs and botanicals, homeopathy, counseling and manipulative therapy.
The goal for these practitioners of natural healing is to stimulate the body to heal itself. Whatever the practitioner emphasizes in his or her practice, the use of hydrotherapy, nutrition, manipulation, herbs, or homeopathy, the healing power of nature, remains central to naturopathic philosophy today. The Latin term for this is, “vis medicatrix naturae”. Natural healers focus on cleansing and strengthening the body, rather than trying to attack specific diseases.