In the previous post, I covered the first principle – “First, Do No Harm“. As Naturopaths, part of not doing harm is to support and facilitate one’s innate healing ability through this second principle. 👇🏻
2. The Healing Power of Nature
“Vis medicatrix naturae“
(The Healing Power of Nature)
Once again, this principle originated with Hippocrates’ time (400 BC) and the writing of the Corpus Hippocraticum.
At that time, the study of medicine was based on observing nature and how she works as a natural force that restores health and balance in humans.
The physician’s role was to support and work with nature and the body’s Vital Force.
Since time immemorial, “Vis medicatrix naturae” was the main philosophy of medicine and law of health. It was practised by all traditional healers up until 1850 where the Scientific Method and “Conventional Medicine” grew in popularity. It should be noted that modern Naturopathy is very much science-based but does not forget/neglect traditional principles like this.
The “Healing Power of Nature” refers to the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Building on the philosophy of Vitalism, our vital force knows how to establish an inherent, self-organizing and ordered healing process to maintain and restore health. Some have referred to this as an extension of creator consciousness or cosmic consciousness. 
Have you ever wondered how your body knows to automatically start repairing a cut or wound? Or how to fight the millions of pathogens we are exposed to at every single moment such as harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi?
That’s Vis medicatrix naturae in action.
Examples of The Healing Power of Nature :
- Injury: your cuts, wounds or bruises automatically start to heal after hurting yourself
- Fever: the body raises its temperature in a fever to increase metabolic processes to fight a pathogenic infection
- Food poisoning: vomiting or diarrhea are the body’s way of responding and eradicating the ‘poison’
- Fractures: often will heal on their own, when aligned
- Physical activity: strenuous exercise causes micro-tears in your muscles and connective tissue which heals if given rest and the body supercompensates to prepare for the future
- Cellular renewal: our bodies constantly perform the processes of autophagy or “cellular cleanup” which replaces old or dysfunctional cells with new ones
What We Do
The naturopathic physician’s role in this healing process is one of support and facilitation by:
- identifying and removing obstacles to health and recovery
- supporting the creation of a healthy internal and external environment and by
- ensuring that the mind is oriented towards promoting personal wellbeing.
A naturopathic belief is that symptoms are often the manifestation of the body’s attempt to defend and heal itself. When the root cause of the symptoms and obstacles to cure are identified and addressed, the body will often be able to initiate the healing process on its own.
With lifestyle changes, the use of natural therapies, such as herbal and nutritional medicine, the healing power of the body, is supported.
While this is ideal, naturopathic physicians also acknowledged that, at times there is a need to override the natural processes to preserve health, as in emergency surgery, or antibiotic use in severe infection. Such treatments are beyond our scope of practice  and hence would be referred to appropriate health care professionals.
Naturopathic physicians apply the Vis Medicatrix Naturae by :
- Treating the patient; not the disease
- Removing obstacles to healing by identifying and treating the cause of disease;
- Decreasing the toxic load to allow the innate healing ability to come through;
- Directing the vital force to stimulate the body’s own defences and healing ability
- Decreasing a person’s susceptibility to disease
- Applying therapies that are in harmony with nature and the patient’s needs – working with the body’s own healing abilities to restore health (e.g. not suppressing symptoms if possible)
The Healing Power of Nature is unparalleled, magnificent and the best form of medicine. Your body instinctively knows what to do and sometimes just needs a little nudge in the right directions.
That is where we as Naturopaths come in.
Here’s a challenge.
The next time you hurt yourself or feel some pain or symptom, ask yourself:
“What is my body trying to do? or tell me?”
In the next part of this series, I look forward to sharing more on the 3rd Naturopathic Principle:
(Treat the Cause)
I hope this has been of benefit to you.
Leave a comment below for questions or personal experiences that could benefit others.
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Peace, Love & Health always
- 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
- Naturopath’s Scope of Practice