The Difference Between Naturopathic Medicine and Homeopathy

Often in social situations or even sitting with patients, I often hear the word “homeopathy” used as an encompassing term or phrase to describe what I do.

“Oh, you’re a homeopathic doctor!” or “So, you do homeopathy?”, they say. “Actually, I’m a naturopathic doctor,” I reply, and proceed to give a brief explanation of the difference, as this is a common misconception.

I understand it can be slightly confusing. Homeopathy is the use of minute doses of natural substance (homeopathic remedies), and naturopathic medicine often uses natural methods of treatment. The truth is that they are entirely separate forms of medicine, with unique definitions, philosophies, and applications.

Here are the definitions:

Naturopathic Medicine

“Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.” (as defined by the AANP, our national organization)

Homeopathy

“Homeopathy, or homeopathic medicine, is a medical philosophy and practice based on the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself. Homeopathy was founded in the late 1700s in Germany and has been widely practiced throughout Europe. Homeopathic medicine views symptoms of illness as normal responses of the body as it attempts to regain health. A homeopathic health practitioner (homeopath) uses pills or liquid mixtures (solutions) containing only a little of an active ingredient (usually a plant or mineral) for treatment of disease.” (via WebMD)

In naturopathic medical school training, homeopathy is one of the philosophies/modalities studied. Just as NDs are also taught herbal medicine, nutrition, etc, we are educated in the use of homeopathy as a tool in treating patients.

Depending on which ND you choose to see, some may utilize more or less homeopathy than others based on their training or experience.

Here is a chart which compares the two:

NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE HOMEOPATHY
Methods of treatment: Herbal medicine, nutrition, lifestyle, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, natural supplements, physical medicine/body work, counseling. Homeopathic remedies only, which are made from diluted natural substances.
Requires a clinical degree to practice: Yes.
NDs are trained at accredited naturopathic medical schools and go on to get a degree and license.
No.
You do not need a medical degree to use homeopathy; but often medical practitioners (MDs, NDs, etc) use homeopathy as a tool.
Philosophy: The Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine (hot link to this in site) The Law of Similars – “Like cures Like” – a homeopathic remedy can resolve symptoms in a sick person if it can cause those same symptoms in a healthy person.
Conditions it can treat: All types. All types.
I hope this helps to clarify any potential confusion on these methods. If you’d like to learn more, here are some great resources:

Homeopathy

Naturopathic Medicine

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