This article focuses on alternative medicine therapies: what they are, why they are, and what difference that should make to you and yours. There might be some who do not know much about naturopathy and the alternative medicine therapies it employs. Wisdom dictates that you contact your physician before trying any of the therapies discussed herein. This article will lay a good foundation for future interactions with alternative medicine. If there are therapies or issues that are of personal concern or mere curiosity, feel free to contact me through the information at the end of this article, and I will address them. I want this to be a fun journey, but certain basics must be known first, so buckle your seat belt.

Naturopathy was the earliest known healing system. Foods, water, and whole herbs were used by many cultures for a wide range of problems before surgery and the synthetic isolation of chemical substances. Many cultures used a variety of naturopathic therapies, ranging from kelp for thyroid health (Chinese), liver for night blindness (Egyptians), and various herbs to promote healing (Native Americans and most others). Is there any wonder that there are still many who make naturopathy an integral part of their lives?

In the United States, the term naturopathy is posited to have been coined by Dr. John Schell in 1895, describing his approach to health. There are presently two primary views of naturopathy with respective different agendas. The first view is that naturopaths should be licensed as physicians and are a type of medical doctor who uses herbs, homeopathy, manipulation, nutrition, isolates, counseling, prescription medications, injections, and sometimes minor surgery. This view tends to be one shared by those endeavoring to require a medical degree of some sort for one to be a naturopath. The second view purports that naturopathy is in the public domain and that its practitioners are not medical doctors and should employ only those modalities that are natural, and should not perform surgery or write prescriptions. This latter view I share in as much as it describes something that provides an alternative to traditional medicine by practice and definition. It is an oxymoron for a naturopath to perform surgery.

Naturopathy, according to Benedict Lust, is a distinct school of healing, employing the beneficial agency of Nature’s forces of water, air, sunlight, earth power, electricity, magnetism, exercise, rest, proper diet, various kinds of mechanical treatment, and mental and moral science. Furthermore, because none of the aforementioned agents of rejuvenation can cure every disease by itself, the naturopath employs the combination that is best adapted to each individual case. The objective of naturopathy is to remove foreign or poisonous matter from the system, allowing the restoration of nerve and blood vitality, the invigoration of organs and tissues, and the regeneration of the entire organism. Examples of some therapies that fall under the purview of naturopathy are iridology, kinesiology, reflexology, acupressure, and the like.

What most people have forgotten or do not know is that the original naturopaths were medical doctors8 dissatisfied with the medical options available to them, and others were straight naturopaths, using only natural modalities, and naturopaths who were medical doctors. There are still medical doctors who incorporate some form of naturopathy in their recommendations to their patients, especially in the area of stress management and nutrition. A medical degree, however, is not a prerequisite to being a naturopath and should not be.

What follows is an overview of water, air, iridology, kinesiology, and two kinds of naturopathic manipulation: reflexology and acupressure.

Water is the most ancient of all remedial agents for disease. Among the Spartans of ancient Greece, cold bathing was made obligatory by law. Hippocrates directed that cold baths should be of short duration and should be preceded and followed by friction—that after a cold bath, the body quickly recuperates its heat and remains warm, while a hot bath produces the opposite effect. Hippocrates employed both hot and cold water in the treatment of fevers, ulcers, and hemorrhages and for a variety of maladies, both medical and surgical.

Well, most people agree that polluted air is dangerous. It is through the medium of the air, with its life-giving oxygen, that the blood is purified. It therefore follows logically that air, pure air, is necessary to health. Four minutes is the limit of time that most people can be deprived of oxygen and live.

Correct breathing supplies more oxygen to the blood, circulates it properly, and purifies it, which can be clearly observed by a clear and bright complexion, while the blood of those who breathe imperfectly is bluish, darkish, and lacking in oxygen, which can be observed by a livid or pale complexion.

According to Thiel, iridology was defined by Dr. J. Haskell Kritzer as follows: “Iridology is a science revealing pathological and functional disturbances in the human body by means of abnormal spots, lines, and discolorations of the eye.” Dr. Jensen adds that toxemias and, where located, the activity of each organ, glandular conditions, and drug poisonings can be accurately identified through the observation of the iris of the eye.

A form of kinesiology is reflex nutrition assessment (RNA), which is an ancillary form of nutrition assessment. It is a technique used to assess nutrition status by observing the response of muscles under externally provided human force.

Many naturopaths use forms of acupressure. In acupressure, fingertips are applied to acupuncture points. The fact that it is finger pressure that is applied to Oriental acupuncture points suggests a relationship to reflexology (actually, reflexology should be considered a form of acupressure). There are too many points to list here, but there is one acupressure point used against anxiety or nervousness where one applies slight pressure to the indentation at the point. Holding four fingers over the area opens up breathing and relieves tension.

I hope your interest is piqued and that you will pursue more knowledge and experience a journey through the natural world of healing and preventive medicine.

Be well.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Parthenia S. Izzard, CNHP, is a psychologist and president and founder of Alternative Medicine Therapies. In addition to being a certified natural healthcare practitioner (CNHP) and Pennsylvania State Certified Psychologist, she is in the dissertation phase of her PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology. You can listen to her radio program, Wellness, Wholeness, and Wisdom, on Delaware Valley’s WWDB, 860 AM at 9:00 a.m. every Saturday. The program is simulcast on VoiceAmerica Radio’s 7th Wave Network (the link is on her site). To contact her, send e-mails to, and visit her Web site,