What is Vitalistic Naturopathic Medicine?

“Vitalistic Naturopathy is founded upon the philosophy, principles, observation, and practices of the founders and perfecters of Naturopathic medicine, eg. Sebastian Kneipp, Benedict Lust, Henry Lindlhar, O.G. Carroll and many others.

Vitalistic Naturopathy Holds:

  • That the Laws of Nature are immutable, infallible and cannot be circumvented or improved upon.
  • That life is more than biochemical and physiological reactions; rather it is vital– changing, growing, developing–this is what animates life.
  • That there is design and function in the human organism, without which no treatment could ever bring real healing and a restoration of health.
  • That every acute disease is the result of a purifying, healing effort of Nature.
  • That the suppression of acute disease can lead to more chronic disease.
  • That the symptoms experienced during an illness result from a beneficial effort to restore balance; they are to be welcomed rather than feared and should not be suppressed except in extreme cases.
  • That the function of the vitalist physician is to utilize treatments that remove obstacles to healing and stimulate, support, assist and enhance the natural healing process.
  • That some cases are not suited to Naturopathic treatment or require emergency measures; such cases are promptly referred to surgeons or specialists.

NMI seeks to preserve, protect, present and promote this inheritance as the core of our profession.”

How is Vitalistic Naturopathic Medicine different than Conventional Medicine?

“What physicians think medicine is profoundly shapes what they do, how they behave in doing it, and the reasons they use to justify that behavior….whether conscious of it or not, every physician has an answer to what he thinks medicine is, with real consequences for all whom he attends….the outcome is hardly trivial…It dictates, after all, how we approach patients, how we make clinical judgments.”
Pellegrino E.,  “Medicine, Science, Art: An Old Controversy Revisited,”  Man and Medicine, 1979; 4.1: 43-52.

The world view, or paradigm, of conventional medicine is easily discernible and definable. It holds that the primary role of a physician is the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and is based on 4 assumptions that are put forward as scientifically grounded  “truth”:

  1. That there are entities called diseases.  They number about 12,000, such as Measles, Lupus erythematous, DCIS, Crohn’s disease, Tuberculosis of the lung, Schizophrenia, etc.  These entities are labeled as the cause of ill health and the reason people seek the help of a physician.
  2. That these disease entities can be identified through the art and science of diagnosis.
  3. That these disease entities can be treated and eliminated, thereby restoring the person to a state of health.
  4. That the appropriate treatment of these diseases is the evidence-based application of, primarily, pharmaceuticals and or surgeries and other interventions.

Vitalistic Naturopathic Medicine holds  that the primary role of the physician is to restore health, and is based on 4 different assumptions.

  1. The Universe is ordered and intelligent as is evident at the most minute levels of anatomy, physiology, chemistry and biology, and the order and intelligence we see in the body reflects the order we see in the universe.
  2. Health is the natural state of humanity, and illness is an adaptive response to disturbances in function.
  3. Correction of the disturbance should result in the return of the normal healthy state.
  4. Interventions should involve the least force necessary to accomplish this.

Out of these assumptions comes a time tested ordered approach to intervention, which we call the Therapeutic Order.

When you compare the two paradigms, it is obvious that conventional medicine is disease centric in its approach to healthcare, and Vitalistic Naturopathic Medicine is health centric in its approach to healthcare.

To understand and apply the Vitalist worldview of Naturopathic Medicine to patient care, a fundamentally different kind of educational process is required, with teachers who understand these two different world views, and who can competently teach the Vitalistic Naturopathic worldview, its philosophy and practice.

Vitalist N.D.s diagnose disease and treat it, but a different paradigm provides different options and outcomes.  Yet, not all Naturopathic doctors are Vitalists.   When understanding of the paradigm is lacking in the physician, the care received by the patient becomes instead a substitution of evidence-based natural medicines into the conventional paradigm.

NMI considers this a foundational distinction for our profession and for healthcare consumers.