Homeopathic and Naturopathic Medicine: Differences and Similarities

Updated: Sep 7


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Unique, yet complementary, naturopathic and homeopathic medicine share the tradition of searching for the root cause of illness to treat the patient at a fundamental level. They’re both considered to be “holistic” and share the belief that the body can heal itself — when it receives the proper care and attention. Treatments provided by the two health care modalities may differ, though.


Definition Varies

Speaking of homeopathy alone, it can be confusing as to what the credentials mean and what level of training the practitioners have.  Each country has different standards for what it means to be called a homeopath.  Homeopathy is a complete course of study in itself, and while shorter courses in homeopathy are available in the U.S., an academic course requires 3-4 years of full-time study to attain competency.  Homeopathy was founded in the late 1700’s in Germany and is widely practiced in Europe as an integral part of the health care system.


Naturopathy

A naturopathic doctor practices naturopathy and has attended a 4-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and studies the same basic sciences as a medical doctor (MD) as well as botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, counseling and other integrative therapies. Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health.  A naturopathic doctor may practice homeopathy, which is just one of several treatment modalities used by a naturopathic doctor to tackle health issues.


In states that do not license naturopathic doctors, it can be confusing because the name naturopath can be used by people who have not acquired a doctorate level training from an accredited naturopathic medical school.  Homeopathy is less defined in this country; therefore, it is important to do your homework and determine the level of education the practitioner has received.  For more information on states that license naturopathic doctors, visit: www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=57.


Getting to the Root of the Problem

To diagnose patients, homeopaths often conduct an extensive intake, which can last several hours and incorporates a detailed patient history. Following the initial visit, homeopaths examine the patient’s responses to find the most appropriate remedy.

Naturopathic doctors perform a thorough patient history and an appropriate physical exam. Based on this info, the doctor may order tests such as imaging or labs to rule out (or in) diagnoses and create a personalized treatment plan that may or may not include homeopathy.


Different Treatment Plans

Homeopaths offer a “remedy,” which is made from a mineral, plant, or other natural substance that goes through a dilution process leading to higher and higher potencies. After the patient uses the remedy, the homeopath will request another visit to monitor the progress made and make modifications to the remedy if needed.


By contrast, naturopathic doctors treat patients using a variety of modalities, including lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, nutrition, and exercise prescription. Like homeopaths, naturopathic doctors will provide a treatment plan and schedule a follow-up appointment to see how everything is progressing (and adjust accordingly).


Contact the Bodhi Clinic today to see how naturopathic medicine can improve your overall health and well being.


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