Homeopathy and Naturopathy are often confused and thought of as interchangeable. However, homeopathy and naturopathy are vastly different in practice and acceptance by modern medicine. They have some similarities, both are systems of medicine that began in Europe in the late 1700’s, and both are gentle and natural systems that are gaining popularity. The biggest difference is that homeopathy uses solely homeopathic remedies, whereas naturopathy uses many modalities including homeopathy, but also clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle counseling.
Homeopathy, meaning “like suffering” in Greek, was founded in the late 1700s by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, when he developed the theory of the law of similars. He believed that diluting a substance that causes symptoms and giving it to a person experiencing those symptoms, the body will respond by healing itself.
Homeopathy is a very gentle medicine and is usually well tolerated, but the challenge in homeopathy is to select the correct medicine. When prescribing a homeopathic remedy, there are probably several medicines which have some degree of benefit, there will be one whose degree of similarity is so strong as to unlock the full healing power of the individual. Finding this medicine can be a challenging process, requiring time and effort for both doctor and patient. When the correct medicine is given, however, the response is often impressive. Who practices homeopathy? Homeopathy licensing varies by state. Usually health care professionals licensed to practice medicine can also prescribe homeopathic remedies, including naturopathic doctors and chiropractors. A handful of states have specific homeopathic licensing boards for MDs and DOs.
Naturopathic Medicine is based on some fundamental principles that the human body has the tools and the power to heal itself and a belief that the doctor’s role is to identify what obstacle is in the way and remove it. The tools used to help in this process are intended to be as effective and least invasive as possible. Naturopathic doctors work simultaneously as primary care doctors and as specialists in natural health. Diagnosis includes identifying the underlying causes of disease, and all treatments are customized to meet the unique needs of the individual. Through activating the natural healing mechanisms of the body, treatments are usually very gentle, safe, and create lasting results.
Unlike homeopathy, naturopathic medicine is formally recognized as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the United States. All licensed naturopathic doctors in the US and Canada have graduated from an accredited four-year naturopathic medical school after completing conventional pre-med undergraduate coursework. The first two years of naturopathic medical school consist of basic medical sciences such as biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, physical and clinical diagnosis, etc. The second two years combine the study of the entire range of human disease in courses such as endocrinology, gynecology, cardiology, pediatrics, gastroenterology, etc. with emphasis on the application of naturopathic therapies along with additional coursework in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine and lifestyle counseling. Clinical training is integrated throughout the final two years of schooling. Upon completion of training, graduates are awarded a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree (N.D.). Graduates of accredited naturopathic medical schools must pass a rigorous three day national professional licensing exam to become licensed as naturopathic doctors.