Naturopathic Principles: The Healing Power of Nature
Written by Chantelle van der Weyden BPsych (Hons), AdvDip(Nat), AdvDip(NutMed)
The second principle in our naturopathic philosophy series is the Healing Power of Nature (vis medicatrix naturae).
“It is this supreme power and intelligence, acting in and through every atom, molecule and cell in the human body, which is the true healer, the vis medicatrix naturae, which always endeavours to repair, to heal and to restore obstructions and to establish normal conditions within and around the patient…” (Henry Lindlahr, ND, MD, 1862-1924).
The healing power of nature refers to the body’s innate ability to heal itself. When illness or imbalance occurs the body naturally wants to correct this in an effort to be healthy and well. As naturopaths we believe that symptoms are a manifestation of the body’s attempt to rehabilitate.
Examples of the vis medicatrix naturae, or the body’s ability to heal itself include:
· A cut to your finger that generally heals on its own.
· A fever is a natural response initiated by the body to reduce a viral or pathogenic load.
Naturopathic practitioners understand the body’s desire to maintain balance and homeostasis. Our role therefore is to support the body and encourage this intrinsic healing process to work efficiently. We help the patient identify and remove obstacles to health and healing. We do this by encouraging an optimal internal and external environment, and by supporting a positive mindset to health and wellbeing. The following are some of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle that provides the body with the optimal environment in which to thrive:
· Consuming an abundance of fruits, vegetables and unrefined foods.
· Getting adequate exercise and rest.
· Connecting with others socially, and to yourself spiritually.
· Avoiding toxins and polluted environments.
· Maintaining effective elimination.
These pillars of health are commonly where patients need our assistance the most, and may need to be manipulated to ensure the body has the best chance to achieve health and healing.
To further honour this principle we use natural therapies and medicines such as herb and nutrients. When used appropriately these interventions are the least likely to cause harm and are most able to work in harmony with the body’s natural healing process.
Vis medicatrix naturae is considered one of the most important naturopathic principles, and it is vital that practitioners and patients alike understand that it is not the remedy or treatment applied that restores health, rather it is the innate desire of the human body to be well.
Catch up on our previous instalment of the naturopathic principles here.
Pizzorno, J. E. & Murray, M. T. (2005). Textbook of Natural Medicine (3rd Ed.). Churchill Livingstone.
World Naturopathic Federation (2017). WNF White Paper: Naturopathic Philosophies, Principles and Theories. http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/WNF_White_Paper_June-2017.pdf