Health is the expression of a harmonious balance between various components of man’s nature, the environment and ways of life – nature is the physician of disease. – Hippocrates
Vis medicatrix naturae means “the healing power of nature” in Latin. It sums up one of the guiding principles of Hippocratic medicine, which is that organisms left alone can often heal themselves.
Hippocrates believed that an organism is not passive to injuries or disease, but rebalances itself to counteract them. The state of illness, therefore, is not a malady but an effort of the body to overcome a disturbed equilibrium. It is this capacity of organisms to correct imbalances that distinguishes them from non-living matter.
From this follows the Naturopathic approach that “nature is the best physician” or “nature is the healer of disease”. Hippocrates considered a physician’s chief aim was to help this natural tendency of the body by observing its action, removing obstacles to its action, and thus allowing an organism to recover its own health.
Hippocratic medicine was humble and passive, “ Do No Harm”.
The Hippocratic School of Medicine established the Principles of Naturopathy in 400 BC:
- Nature has the innate ability to heal
- An underlying cause always exists, be it physical or emotional
- Treatments that may create other conditions are not used by Naturopaths
- All aspects of a person’s being are taken into consideration when creating a treatment plan
- A Naturopath teaches self-care to empower the patient to take responsibility for his/her own health
- To prevent the onset of further disease, a Naturopath will remove toxic substances and situations from a patient’s lifestyle
Man is part of nature and the universe, and health is achieved by living in accordance with this principle. Harmony is fostered with proper nutrition, water treatments, rest, sunshine and fasting. Medicine, religion and science are intimately related and man is seen as a whole – a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being. The same vital force or chi (qi) that makes up the universe and nature flows through man and it is his dislocation from this source that causes illness. Early Naturopaths realised that if you could restore the vital force to the patient, the body would naturally heal itself.