A common misconception is that naturopathy and homeopathy are the same. The facts are that naturopathy describes a broad spectrum of practitioners who prefer to treat ailments with multiple treatment approaches that include natural herbs, supplements, and dietary adjustments. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is a single medical system in which the focus of practitioners is totally on prescribing homeopathic formulas for a particular ailment. The two practices are entirely different in their approach although naturopathy may include homeopathic medicine as part of treatment.
Naturopathy can be seen as an umbrella term incorporating many different natural remedies and therapies including massage, herbal medicine, iridology and nutrition and sometimes include homeopathy. The origin of naturopathy is in traditional natural cures where a diet of raw food, fasting, hydrotherapy and whole foods were practiced. Over time other therapeutic disciplines were added to become what is today known as ‘Naturopathy.’
The philosophy of naturopathy is based on providing the body with a natural environment which will support recovery from illnesses.
A consultation with a naturopath will most likely include dietary advice, herbal medicines and vitamins and mineral supplements. Naturopaths are often referred to as general practitioners in natural therapies and remedies. Herbal preparations are formulated from plants and called fluid extracts or tinctures which usually have a strong, bitter taste and are dark in color. When homeopathic medicine is included in the treatment, it is done as part of a holistic program to treat acute symptoms.
In contrast to naturopathy, homeopathy is based on a scientific system of medicine that originated from orthodox medicine practiced during the 18th century. A homeopathic prescription matches the dose to the symptoms of the patient. Its unique characteristics are based on the specific selection of a particular medicine corresponding with the symptoms presented according to a functional system of homeopathic case taking. Although diet and lifestyle are often considered – as in naturopathy – it is the homeopathic formula that is primarily used to treat the symptoms of an illness directly.
The homeopathic philosophy is based on finding a medicament that builds on the ‘law of similarity.’ Put another way homeopaths believe that the substance that caused the disease can also cure it. One example is a homeopathic remedy for bee stings made from honeybee products.
A homeopathic consultation involves the gathering of detailed information regarding the patterns prevalent in the patient that caused the symptoms. A homeopathic formula will be prescribed based on how closely the prescribed medicine matches the particular symptoms. For this reason, homeopathic prescriptions are highly individualized with different patients having the same symptoms receiving different formulas to treat their ailments, based on how each experiences their symptoms.
Homeopathic preparations come in either small white pills or drops with a slightly sweet taste. These medicines are formulated by diluting the source material thousands of times, then potentiate, making them non-toxic and colorless.
One can describe the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy as follows:
Homeopathy prescribes specific treatments for each person and their particular symptoms, whereas naturopathy provides the patient with a supportive framework in which to recover.
A medical doctor practicing holistic medicine will combine modern scientific treatments with complementary and alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage or chiropractic. Holistic physicians and homeopathic practitioners both take the whole picture into consideration. Where they differ is that a homeopath will prepare a particular remedy in tablet or liquid form, while a holistic medical doctor will provide his patients with the option of alternative treatments in addition to pharmaceutical drugs, which could also include homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic treatment, often scoffed at by modern doctors and scientific institutions, in general falls under the umbrella of holistic therapies. Holistic medicine examines and considers the whole person was integrating a person’s diet, constitution, stressors, mental and emotional states – among other factors – which is where the term ‘holistic,’ comes from.