1. “FIRST, DO NO HARM” (Naturopathic Principle 1)

Following from the previous post on the Naturopathic Philosophies of Vitalism and Holism, the 7 Naturopathic Principles described in the following posts to come embody those philosophies.

Before we begin, what is a PRINCIPLE anyway? [1]

Thus, a PRINCIPLE is a fundamental truth, theory or proposition that serves as a foundation for behaviour, belief or reasoning.

In this instance, the 7 Naturopathic Philosophies serve as fundamental truths/concepts that guide Naturopathic practice. They are interdependent and influence all aspects of naturopathic assessment, diagnosis and treatment. [2]

1. First, Do No Harm

“Primum non nocere”
(First, Do No Harm)

This principle has its origins in the writings of the Corpus Hippocraticum (400 BC) and the Hippocratic Oath. [2]

It has been developed over centuries to encompass the risks and nature of healthcare practise. The Therapeutic Order, a Naturopathic theory, was developed to guide Naturopaths how to Do No Harm. [2]

There are two aspects of “harm” that every health care practitioner needs to be aware of:

  • Harms of Commission from prescribed substances, procedures, or personal behaviours (ethical)
  • Harms of Omission from lack of information on which to make wise decisions or lack of follow-up and support.

As naturopaths, we strive to follow a hierarchy of treatment choices.

This starts with the most gentle and noninvasive treatment/intervention such as the spoken word to educate the individual, raise awareness or change a person’s mindset. Only when a person is ready for change will he/she be willing to try other therapies that might bring about further healing.

However every case is different and in advanced disease, often an aggressive treatment might be the most appropriate to start. Still, after choosing the therapy, the naturopath should still decide on the most gentle and noninvasive strategy to achieve the desired outcome.

Health can often be restored by changing lifestyle, and addressing environmental/external factors and/or by addressing social or stressful situations directly.

Respecting the holistic nature, vitality and individuality of each patient ensures that the healing process is supported rather than overridden or suppressed.

Primum non nocere is achieved by [2]:

  • choosing treatments that support the innate healing ability of the body
  • choosing treatments that honour and work with the laws of nature (“vis medicatrix naturae“)
  • teaching patients insight and awareness into all the factors that contribute to health and disease.
  • choosing diagnostic techniques that are non-invasive, whenever possible
  • Avoid, when possible, the suppression of symptoms as suppression generally interferes with the healing process

In the next part of this series, we will examine Principle number 2:

“Vis medicatrix naturae”
(The Healing Power of Nature)

Thank you for reading, I hope this post has been educational.
Please share and/or leave a comment for questions or advice for improvement.
Much appreciation 🙏🏻

Love, Peace & Health always,

Posts in this series:

  1. What is Naturopathy?
  2. Overview of the Naturopathic Profession
  3. Naturopathic Philosophies: Vitalism and Holism


  1. Screen clip of meaning of Principle: https://www.google.com/search?q=principle+meaning&rlz=1C1CHBF_enNZ838NZ838&oq=principle+meaning&aqs=chrome.0.0l8.3597j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  2. World Naturopathic Federation. (2017). WNF White Paper: Naturopathic Philosophies, Principles and Theories. Retrieved from http://worldnaturopathicfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/WNF_White_Paper_June-2017.pdf

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