“Treat the WHOLE PERSON” (Naturopathic Principle 4)

“Tolle Totum”
(Treat the Whole Person)

This principle follows closely from the philosophy of Holism which recognizes that:

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and that
all parts of a system/organism is deeply interconnected with and interdependent on each other.

This means our health is deeply interconnected with what goes on internally within us; as well externally outside us.

Internally, this refers to our genetics, anatomy, physiology, constitution, unique microbiome, our thoughts, emotions, responses to stress, etc.

Externally this involves our diets, living environments, level of stress, life experiences, trauma, relationships, etc.

Iva Lloyd summed this up brilliantly. [1]

Factors That Influence Health and Disease 
In 2009, naturopathic doctor Iva Lloyd grouped the 
factors that influence health and disease into the 
following categories: personal essence (spirituality), 
genetics / gestational, lifestyle, social, environmental, 
external, medical interventions and physiological 
The term "factors that influence health and disease" 
recognizes that every factor can either stimulate 
health or attribute to disease depending on the degree 
Factors that Influence 
Health & Disease 
Personal Essence 
L ifestyle 
Medical Interventions 
to which it is in line with a person's constitution and whether it is appropriate 
for the individual at this age and stage of their life.

Tolle Totum recognizes that the uniqueness of everyone also extends to our response to disease. We each have our own susceptibilities and way of manifesting symptoms of disease. Also it recognizes that disease affects the entire person, body, mind and soul – not just a specific organ or system.

As Naturopaths, we recognize this by adopting a “patient-centred approach”.

The first consultation generally lasts 1-2 hours and follow-ups are 30-45 minutes. Longer consultation times allow for a greater depth of understanding of the patient and his/her health issues – including how they affect them on all levels and the causative factors (determinants) that have led to their development. The Naturopath will strive to find and Treat the Cause (“Tolle causam“).

Treating the whole person involves addressing all aspects of a person both internally and externally. Naturopathic assessment and treatment may address factors such as nutritional status, sleep, physical activity, stressors, mental and emotional states, thought patterns, family history and genetic predispositions, spiritual beliefs, living environment, past injuries, trauma, medical treatments, and social relationships.

All aspects of health (physical & psychological) work together like cogwheels to enable one to function optimally. [1]


I have only had 10 clients so far but through the guidance of my wise and experienced clinical supervisors, I have learnt to ‘step back’ and take a broader view of the forest and not just focus on a few trees.

This means despite having the means/herbs/methods to treat a person’s main concern, a Naturopath should pause, ‘step back’ and make an overall assessment of that person’s health.

“In this present state and time, Can this person’s body handle the changes you might implement?”
(such as a restricted diet, herbs, supplements, etc)

For example, a recent case discussion session drove this message home to me.
(Thanks for sharing Jordana!)

The client was suffering from a chronic Candida infection (in the gut) with secondary fungal infections around the body (nails, toes, armpits, scalp, etc). Our first instinct might be to think of antimicrobial herbs like Hydrastis canadensis (Goldenseal) which would kill off the infection and restore the mucus membranes at the same time.

However, our supervisors were experienced enough to point out that the client’s immune system and overall detoxification pathways were, at present, probably unable to handle the “die-off” effects from the eradication of the Candida.

Some people call this a “healing crisis” where health deteriorates after trying a ‘cleanse’ or some other drastic health regime. In the client’s case, it would come from the metabolites and lipopolysaccharides released from the candida die-off into the blood (if there was intestinal hyperpermeability too, aka “leaky gut”). [2]

In the end, it was better for the client to focus first on improving overall health and even to try a ‘Candida Diet’ which would be much less aggressive compared to herbs. The herbal medicine protocol instead was focused on improving liver and gastrointestinal function. Other aspects of the case was also addressed such as personal hygiene practices and teaching the client how to create her own ‘anti-fungal’ cream.


Building on the 3rd Principle of Treating the Cause, Tolle Totum reminds Naturopaths that this can only be done holistically, by treating the Whole Person.

This involves addressing internal as well as external factors that impact on health. From nutrient deficiencies to suboptimal organ and body system functions to broken relationships, unhealed emotional wounds/scars, personal vices, etc.

Tolle Totum also recognizes that everyone is unique – has a different origin and manifestation of disease and thus will require an individualized treatment plan from dietary to lifestyle, herbal medicine, nutraceutical supplementation and even psycho-social changes.

Therefore this principle helps remind Naturopaths about the holistic aspect of health and to focus on this in our treatments.

See the forest before the trees.

In the next part of this series, I look forward to sharing more on the 5th Naturopathic Principle:

Doctor as Teacher

I hope this has been of benefit to you.
Leave a comment for questions or personal experiences that could benefit others.
Please share if you found it useful.
and subscribe below for updates on future posts.

Peace, Love & Health always

Posts in this series:

  1. What is Naturopathy?
  2. Overview of the Naturopathic Profession
  3. Naturopathic Philosophies: Vitalism and Holism
  4. “First, Do No Harm” (Naturopathic Principle 1)
  5. “The Healing Power of Nature” (Naturopathic Principle 2)
  6. “Treat the Cause” (Naturopathic Principle 3)


  1. 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
  2. Pizzorno J. (2014). Toxins From the Gut. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)13(6), 8–11. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566437/

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