“Doctor as Teacher” (Naturopathic Principle 5)

Did you know that the english word “doctor” has its roots in Latin?

It is derived from the latin word “Docere” which means to teach.

This principle reminds us that we are “Educators“, not just “Prescribers.

We educate patients on the factors that affect health and disease so that individuals are more informed about the impact of their choices and more capable of maintaining their own health.

These include a patient’s choices and habits around nutrition, physical activity, work-life balance, sleep, hygiene, posture, breathing patterns, thought patterns, behavioural impulses, spirituality, social relationships, occupation, pastimes, living environment and much more.

Naturopathic physicians educate and encourage self-responsibility for health.

This is done through a Therapeutic Relationship involving collaboration and shared decision-making.

We believe that a therapeutic relationship is one where the patient is educated and informed about potential benefits/costs and ultimately, the power lies with the patient to decide which action to take.

Teaching takes time, hence the longer consultation times as mentioned above. This may involve education on how to make and maintain new lifestyle choices.

Many people want to know why they are sick; what they can do to improve the situation, and what they have to change for the future. It is this awareness and understanding by the patient that determines long-term wellness, not the knowledge level of the naturopath.

However, there are times when the naturopathic physician may not have the capabilities to treat a patient such as providing professional counselling for psychiatric disorders.

Docere then involves teaching the client that their condition falls outside our Scope of Practice and requesting permission to refer to other health professionals.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In the next part of this series, I look forward to sharing more on the 6th Naturopathic Principle:

Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

I hope this has been of benefit to you.
Do 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)
  7. “Treat the WHOLE PERSON” (Naturopathic Principle 4)


  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

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