Naturopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine are often seen as the same thing as they both fall into the complementary and alternative medicine fields. While both share many similarities in their approach to healing, such as a focus on treating the root cause of illness, naturopathic medicine practitioners are trained in a wider scope of modalities, such as homeopathy, nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, botanical medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and other lifestyle practices.
Due to naturopaths’ wider scope of practice, they can often treat a wider number of conditions, using homeopathy only when it is the best treatment option. Another important distinction is that while both naturopaths and homeopaths are trained to treat many conditions, naturopathic medicine also provides skill training to patients about disease prevention.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a form of complementary medicine that focuses on establishing a foundation of optimal health, first through disease prevention and secondarily through natural remedies that support and strengthen the function of the body. Naturopathic medicine was established in Germany in the 1800s but uses principles and healing methods that have been practiced around the world for hundreds and even thousands of years.
Naturopathic doctors are health professionals who have 4 years of training in addition to their post-secondary undergraduate degree. Upon graduation, naturopathic doctors must also complete additional licensing exams and are a regulated profession in the province of Ontario.
What Other Modalities Do Naturopathic Doctors Use?
Diet and Nutrition Recommendations
Naturopathic doctors offer in-depth and comprehensive nutrition consulting that is tailored to a patient’s individual needs, lifestyle and preferences. These recommendations focus on the inclusion of nutrient-dense and bioavailable foods that will help support metabolic and cellular function.
Behavioural and Lifestyle Changes
Our health is determined by much more than just nutrition. Naturopathic doctors aim to treat the mind, body and soul in their approach to healing.
Hydrotherapy is a water-based approach, often using both heat and cold to promote healing in the body.
Herbal medicine has been used across the world for centuries to treat a number of health concerns. Herbal supplementation is used by many naturopaths, as it is one of the most studied and evidence-based modalities.
Manipulation and Physical Medicine
Naturopathic doctors are trained to treat pain and misalignment in the body through physical manipulations.
What Are the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine follows 6 main principles. These include:
- First, do no harm
- Focus on Prevention
- Harness the healing power of nature
- Identify and treat the root cause
- Doctor as a teacher
- Treat the whole person
At the core of their practice, naturopathic doctors focus on assisting the body’s ability to heal itself, identifying the root cause of disease, and educating the patient on lifestyle habits to prevent and treat disease.
What Conditions Can Naturopathic Medicine Treat
Due to the wide range of modalities, naturopathic medicine can help prevent and treat a number of diseases and illnesses, including but not limited to:
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic fatigue
- thyroid disorders
- skin conditions
- vaginal health
- hormonal health
- digestive concerns
- autoimmune conditions
- sleep disorders
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy was founded in the 1700s in Germany. It has been practiced throughout Europe since that time. Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, animals and minerals that cause the same symptoms that they aim to treat.
Homeopathy views illness as an energetic misalignment with health. By giving a very diluted amount of a remedy believed to cause the same symptoms, it aims to stimulate the body to realign naturally with its natural state of health.
How Does Homeopathy Work?
Homeopathy works by administering a remedy that has been diluted down to the point where it no longer contains active particles of the remedy, yet still contains the vital force of the remedy. These remedies work at an energetic level to promote healing.
In fact, the lower the dose, the more powerful the remedy is believed to be. Remedies are available in a number of delivery methods, including sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels, and tablets.
What Conditions Can Homeopathy Treat?
Like Naturopathic medicine, homeopathy can treat a number of different conditions. Such as
- chronic fatigue
- rheumatoid arthritis
- irritable bowel syndrome
- premenstrual symptoms
Homeopathy is also used to treat acute conditions such as aches and pains, toothaches, bruising, colds and flu.
What is the Difference Between Homeopathy and Naturopathy?
While both naturopathy and homeopathy focus on treating the root cause of the disease, the main difference is that Naturopathy has a wider number of treatment options to provide care when compared to homeopathy, which uses a single treatment modality for healing. Homeopathy is simply one treatment option to provide care. Homeopathy can be used along with other Naturopathic modalities to offer a more comprehensive treatment approach. Some naturopaths choose to use homeopathy more often than others in their practice.
Both Naturopathy and Homeopathy are effective in treating many conditions. Because homeopathic remedies are often void of active ingredients, scientific studies have associated their efficacy with the placebo effect. While other modalities such as nutraceutical supplementation, nutrition and botanical medicine have been better studied, and are considered more evidence-based. However, homeopathy has remained a popular choice for hundreds of years, due to the anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness.
Homeopathy or Naturopathy. Which is more suitable for me?
There are a number of factors that determine the correct treatment for your condition. It is always best to talk with your healthcare provider to understand what therapies are right for you.
The benefit of seeing a Naturopathic doctor is that they are trained in a number of modalities, including homeopathy, and are best able to provide you with the most effective treatment options.
Common Questions About Homeopathy vs Naturopathy
Is Homeopathy Safe?
Homeopathy is generally considered safe, as the remedies are diluted to the point where they no longer contain any of the active ingredients. However, it is important to talk with a naturopathic doctor or a homeopath to ensure that you are sourcing remedies from credible sources.
What Are the Educational Requirements of a Naturopathic Doctor Vs a Homeopath?
Naturopathic doctors are professionals with 4 years of post-graduate training in naturopathic medicine from an accredited naturopathic medical school. Naturopathic doctors are a regulated profession in the province of Ontario and must complete licensing exams to practice. Unlike Naturopaths, Homeopaths do not require a medical degree to practice in Canada. However, they are required to complete a diploma program and are regulated by the College of Homeopaths of Ontario.
- Both Naturopathy and Homeopathy can be used to treat a wide number of conditions
- Naturopathy focuses on prevention and treatment, while homeopathy only treats existing conditions
- Seeing a naturopathic doctor offers a wider range of therapy options, including homeopathy
- Working with a naturopathic doctor can help determine if homeopathy is right for you
- Homeopathy is one of the most cost-effective treatment options offered in complementary medicine