The Decline and Rebirth of Natural Medicine


Natural medicine is a type of healthcare that focuses on finding the underlying causes of health problems rather than just treating the symptoms. The current mainstream medical system spends a tremendous amount of money on drugs and treatments that manage chronic conditions that could be more effectively prevented or treated with natural changes such as better diet and lifestyle.

The field of natural medicine has grown rapidly in the last few decades, but the specialists in this field are very few compared to mainstream medical doctors. There are currently nearly 900,000 medical doctors (MD) practicing in the United States compared to 6,000 naturopathic doctors (ND). Naturopathic doctors are becoming more recognized as integral to the overall health care system. Over 28 medical centers and university hospitals currently employ them.

The Dominance of the AMA

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were two major approaches to medicine. One was the traditional approach of supporting the body’s ability to fight off illness, and the other was the allopathic method of killing germs and pathogens with drugs and surgery. Both of these strategies were equally effective, but the allopathic method has gained much greater prevalence because of aggressive marketing and lobbying.

The theory of treating illnesses with drugs and surgeries became dominant in medical schools in the early part of the 20th century. During this time, the American Medical Association enacted a seal of approval for drugs that was awarded when pharmaceutical companies advertised in AMA publications. The profit of this business model has caused the allopathic approach to increasingly gain dominance in health care.

A rebirth of Natural Medicine

The campaign against natural healers during the 20th century reached a peak in the 1970s when they had almost disappeared, but there were a few still holding on. One of these few remaining practitioners was Joseph E. Pizzorno, ND. He sparked new interest in the field by introducing a scientific component to the practice. He created a new paradigm and named it “science-based natural medicine.” He realized that, for natural medicine to regain mainstream acceptance, he needed to demonstrate solid research and sound scientific findings to back up naturopathic theories.

Dr. Pizzorno realized that there was great potential to revitalize the field, so he embarked on a campaign to increase awareness and acceptance of this dwindling method of healing. He was a leading author in the field, having written over a dozen books on naturopathy. One of these is the most important text in natural medicine. He has also been prominent in the political arena. He was on a presidential committee for two administrations, and he helped bring new licensing and legislation for natural medicine.

When he graduated from his naturopathic medical school, it was the only one of its kind in the United States. He and three of his colleagues founded a new school, Bastyr University. He was the school’s president for 22 years, and he has continued to increase the public awareness of natural medicine throughout his career.

There are now seven accredited naturopathic schools in the country, and the graduates provide health care in many different medical fields. They are involved in facets of medicine that include cardiology, endocrinology, oncology, and many others. With these new schools, the number of naturopaths is growing rapidly.

The core principle of natural medicine is the belief in a vital life force within the human body that has the ability to aid in healing. The naturopath uses a variety of techniques to enable the natural force to more effectively heal illnesses. The naturopathic doctor treats the whole person rather than just the areas affected by illness. They also strive to gain much more information to determine the root cause of diseases or chronic conditions.

In recent years, natural medicine has been working in an integrative approach that is synergistically effective when paired with traditional surgeries and allopathic treatments. This new integrative medicine provides more potential to create long-term solutions and establish therapies that prevent health problems.

Treatments that involve better nutrition, exercise and avoidance of toxins is essential for preventing disease and poor health. The mental aspect of health is also vital for a healthy body. Stress and anxiety are proven to increase health risks. By treating the whole person, natural medicine offers many more effective ways to prevent and cure chronic conditions that mainstream medicine often fails to alleviate.