Naturopathic Medicine

An Introduction by the Pastoral Medical Association (PMA) Official Guide to Naturopathic Medicine

The Pastoral Medical Association (PMA) extends much thanks to SelfGrowth for recognizing the PMA’s contribution to alternative medicine, and for selecting the PMA as SelfGrowth’s official guide on naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathy is a distinct type of health care that blends age-old healing traditions with scientific advances and current research. It is guided by a unique set of principles that recognize the body's innate healing capacity, emphasize disease prevention, and encourage individual responsibility to obtain optimal health.

Naturopathic medicine differs from conventional (allopathic) medicine in one major way. Allopathic focuses on diagnosing the problem through correlating symptoms with known diseases, then attacking (as if to drive out) the identified disease with medication or surgery. This approach is believed by many to work against the body, causing much distress. Naturopathic medicine focuses on removing the cause and supporting the body’s effort to recover, through bolstering the body's natural disease fighting abilities. This approach works with the body rather than against it, returning the body to homeostasis and functioning, educates the patient on how to remain healthy and allows the patient to have a much larger role in their own recovery.

The term "naturopathy" is derived from Latin and Greek, and literally translates as "nature disease". The term was coined in 1895 by John Scheel and popularized by Benedict Lust, the recorded father of U.S. naturopathy around 1902. Some see the ancient Greek “Hippocrates” as the Father of Medicine, and the first advocate of naturopathic medicine, before the term actually existed. In truth however, maintaining good health and treating disease was accomplished using natural methods and substances long before Hippocrates and certainly long before 1895.

Over the centuries, health improvement and treatment of disease using natural means has been predominantly under the domain of the church, and only more recently under the domain of the secular, and has been called by many names, naturopathic medicine being a relatively modern term considering man’s long history in the search for a perfect system of health care. All of these natural systems relied on the belief that our bodies are designed to operate perfectly, designed to live long and disease free with proper and natural care.

Today, even though the last 100 years has witnessed the church by and large handing off responsibility for health to the secular, natural medicine remains the domain of both the church and the secular, and it is important to understand the distinct difference in these two different approaches to naturopathic based health and wellness.

Spiritual based naturopathic medicine is as distinctly different from modern naturopathic medicine, as modern naturopathic medicine is from allopathic medicine. Whereas modern (secular based) naturopathic medicine blends age-old healing traditions with scientific advances and current research, spiritual based medicine considers the wisdom of age-old healing traditions, but looks first to the scriptural validity of any approach to health and blends those that meet the criteria with scripturally valid modern scientific contributions. Scripture based medicine also requires that all three components of health, the physical, mental and spiritual aspects, must be included in any health improvement protocol. This “restraint” on spiritual based medicine is very important for the individual seeking true natural medicine, because today’s secular naturopathic medicine is often difficult to distinguish from allopathic medicine. Secular naturopaths often take the allopathic approach, targeting the disease, only using natural remedies rather than chemical. Both operate to force regulate the body rather than support it.

Secular based naturopathic medicine actually bases its tenets on the idea that vitalism is what drives the body's health and wellness. Vitalism is the idea that the body's different processes, such as growth and metabolism are guided by a vital energy or force that controls the body. Secular Naturopathic medicine, as it is practiced in the U.S. today, is available from state licensed naturopathic physicians in about 13 states, and widely available in most other states that do not regulate naturopathic medicine, from traditional naturopaths that are not accountable to any authority. Due to the disparity in regulation, the ideas of what naturopathy is and its practice, as well as the quality of practitioners and standards for practice vary widely, depending on whether offered by a state licensed provider or a traditional. Individuals seeking naturopathic services are left largely to decide for themselves whether a particular practitioner is qualified to provide a professional level of services.

The Pastoral Medical Association believes strongly that health care practitioners should be accountable, and holds practitioners that are licensed by the PMA to provide spiritual based naturopathic medicine, to the high standards of scripture and to license standards set forth in the PMA administrative license rules.

The number one asked question we hear today is “should naturopathic medicine be considered an alternative to conventional medicine”, and the PMA’s answer is “no”, “there is a time for both”. For those suffering chronic poor health that has not progressed to the level of a life threatening disease, naturopathic medicine should be the first choice to learn about and restore health. Individuals that are suffering a potentially life threatening disease should take full advantage of the contribution conventional science has made in saving lives, and visit the allopathic physician, while incorporating naturopathic medicine as an adjunct to support the innate ability of the body to heal and to overcome the damage often caused by allopathic medicine. Likewise, for emergencies and trauma, conventional medicine should be the first choice. Individuals should be ever mindful however, that conventional medicine resides at the top of the list as “cause of death”, and may be wise to seek a qualified naturopathic practitioner for all non-life threatening, chronic health woes. The body was not designed to suffer chronic health problems, those are the result of poor lifestyle and stress, and these can be corrected without chemicals and surgery, through a professional, and preferably spiritually based naturopathic health system.

The PMA was selected by as the official Guide for Naturopathic Medicine because we are raising the bar for accountable naturopathic healing. We set the standards for practitioners of scripture based naturopathic medicine and are legally authorized, and do license health care professionals from every field and specialty in medicine, counseling and ministry to represent PMA approved, spiritual based naturopathic medicine. PMA licensed providers are currently serving our multi-thousand network of member families in all U.S. States, throughout Canada and many other countries.

For individuals and families seeking naturopathic based health and wellness services, membership is free and members have access to the PMA Complaint Resolution Center that assures that any grievance between members and providers is resolved fairly and impartially. Learn more about free membership at

For healthcare, counseling and ministerial professionals, PMA license means credibility and legal practice protection, as well as access to our multi-thousand membership that is seeking alternative services and products. Health care professionals have a couple of ways of joining with the PMA to increase business and credibility. First, the PMA Professional Directory at is highly visited and all health care professionals, whether PMA licensed or not, are invited to create a professional listing for themselves and their services. Second, all practitioners are invited to apply for the prestigious PMA license, opening their door to the PMA’s multi-thousand member network of families that are seeking PMA licensed providers in their own locality and to provide distance services. Learn more about PMA license at

Thank you for taking time to review this introductory article about naturopathic medicine and the PMA. We will be adding articles monthly and invite you to follow along as we disclose all you ever wanted to know about naturopathic medicine!

© Pastoral Medical Association July 10, 2014 * All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

The Pastoral Medical Association is the undisputed world leader in licensing health care practitioners and bringing them together with families to share scripturally valid naturopathic health concepts.