Have you ever wondered how does homeopathy differ from naturopathy? It’s a great question as they are both types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Homeopathy and naturopathy share many similarities, but they are not the same modalities. In this blog, I will describe CAM, naturopathy and homeopathy in detail.
What is complementary and alternative medicine?
Around the world, many people regularly use CAM and integrative healthcare to support their ill health and dis-ease in the body and mind. CAM is used alongside conventional medicine (complementary) or instead of conventional medicine (alternative) 1. Integrative healthcare solutions incorporate conventional and complementary methods. The main principle is focus on the person as an individual and treat the whole person rather than one specific organ or body part. This wholistic approach includes the overall wellbeing of the person: mental, emotional, physical, functional, spiritual and social aspects.
CAM includes 1,2:
- Traditional alternative medical systems (homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, Ayurveda, Chinese or oriental medicine)
- Manual manipulation, movement, and body-mind-based methods (therapeutic massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, kinesiology, reflexology, tai chi, yoga, body movement therapies, breathwork, pranayama)
- Diet and herbs (herbal medicine, nutrition/diet, dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals)
- Energy therapies (reiki, qi gong, electromagnetic therapy, Bowen therapy, polarity therapy, healing touch)
- Mind (meditation, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, support groups and circles, life coaching)
- Senses (art therapy, music therapy, dance, aromatherapy, visualisation, guided imagery)
How homeopathy was discovered?
Homeopathy, founded by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), in the late 18th century 3,4, is one of the oldest forms of CAM. Through Hahnemann’s knowledge in medicine, curiosity, and intelligence, he discovered by self-experimentation that by taking quinine he developed symptoms, which were similar to malaria. Did you know, quinine (chinchona bark) was used as an anti-malarial medication since 17th century 5 ? Thanks to this observation, Hahnemann came up with the “Law of Similars”, also known as “like treats like” (similia similibus curantur). In other words, the substances which can produce symptoms in a healthy person (e.g. fever), can be used in a diluted form to treat the same or similar symptoms in a person who is ill (e.g. has fever).
Dr. Hahnemann’s passion and interests were a driving factor in advancing the field of homeopathy. He continued to discover new remedies through self-experimentation with various substances. Hahnemann is certainly considered one of the most respected doctors of his time as he was endlessly working to help people with dis-ease return to good health. Nowadays, homeopathy is the second most used form of medicine around the world and is widely accessible.
Homeopathic treatment and remedies
Homeopathy is a form of holistic medicine that treats various acute and chronic illnesses by taking the root cause of illnesses into account. A homeopath takes a detailed case history of the person’s illnesses and current symptoms (i.e. anamnesis). In that thorough consultation, the homeopath also explores the person’s personality, characteristics, preferences, sensations, feelings, mental, emotional, and physical state, and their family history. This helps the homeopath to select the best suited constitutional (and/or acute) remedy for that person.
The homeopathic holistic remedies are made from plant, mineral, or animal materials, which are diluted and succussed to create different potencies (i.e. strengths). Depending on the severity, depth, history, and acuteness of the symptoms, a homeopath will select an appropriate potency and frequency for taking the remedies. Importantly, a homeopath approaches every person individually and holistically. Therefore, the remedies that are prescribed will differ from person to person even if the diagnosis is the same. This is because every person will experience the symptoms in their own way and have different perceptions, thoughts, emotions, sensations, beliefs, and values.
What is naturopathy?
Modern naturopathy originates from Germany and Europe in the 19th century. John Scheel came up with the term ‘naturopathy’ in 1895. However, it was Dr. Benedict Lust who introduced the knowledge of naturopathy in USA in the late 19th century 5,6. Dr. Lust integrated a number of natural healing forms in the clinical practice of naturopathy, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional therapy (diet, vitamins, supplements), prevention and lifestyle counselling, and manipulative therapy 8. Naturopathy can also include iridology, hydrotherapy, and ayurvedic medicine. Thus, naturopathy brings several holistic medical methods together to support the treatment and prevention of diseases.
Naturopathy follows 6 principles 5,6:
- Primum Non-Docere (First do no harm) – this is the main principle for all healthcare practices. It focuses on choosing natural, non-invasive, and least toxic therapies.
- Vis Medicatric Naturae (The healing power of nature) – naturopaths value the nature around us and use it in the healing process. Similar to homeopaths, naturopaths recognise that the body has the wisdom to heal itself.
- Tolle Causam (Identify and treat the causes) – as homeopaths, naturopaths also aim to find the underlying causes of the disease(s) to address it and remove the obstacles that prevent reaching the total health.
- Docere (Doctor as teacher) – it is important to increase a person’s health literacy and help them understand their health better and what they can do to stay well. Through education, people can take responsibility for maintaining their health.
- Tolle Totum (Treat the whole person) – this principle encompasses that our body, mind, environment, lifestyle and family history are interconnected and contribute to our overall health. Naturopaths aim to restore balance and health by having a holistic whole-person-based approach.
- Prevenic (Prevention) – it is always better to focus on prevention of illness and the state of dis-ease, whenever possible.
Similarities between homeopathy and naturopathy
Both naturopathy and homeopathy are comprehensive forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) focusing on the person as a whole and stimulating the body enough so that it can heal itself. Homeopaths and naturopaths take their time to learn about the person, their symptoms, illnesses, imbalances, physical, mental and emotional state, and according to that select either homeopathic remedies (homeopaths) or a combination of treatments and approaches (naturopaths). Both homeopathy and naturopathy remain important CAM treatment options in Australia and around the world.
Naturopathy and homeopathy share the following principles:
- Approaching each person individually and wholistically
- Identifying and treating the root cause of the disease
- Understanding that the body has an ability to treat itself
- Offering natural, non-invasive treatment
- Choosing the minimal interventions necessary
- Doing no harm
How do homeopathy and Naturopathy differ?
The main difference between homeopathy and naturopathy is that homeopathy uses a single system of treatment, whereas naturopathy is a combination of various wholistic forms of treatment. That means that naturopaths may include homeopathic treatment of a person if it is suitable and appropriate alongside other forms of treatment. However, homeopaths primarily prescribe only homeopathic remedies and some homeopaths can also recommend other forms of support (e.g. vitamins, supplements, tissue salts) if they are indicated. Naturopaths follow six main principles to identify what needs treating and educating people about how to keep well (see principles above), whereas the philosophy of homeopathy is rooted in the law of similars, giving a single remedy for multiple complaints, prescribing the smallest dose possible and individualisation.
As we can see, homeopathy and naturopathy are important CAM therapies offered in Australia and around the world. The beauty lies in the possibility of using each of the alternative therapies as complementary to one another to facilitate people reaching their best health, balanced lifestyle, and holistic wellbeing.
I first had homeopathy as a child and I remember feeling better every time I had it taken homeopathic remedies. After completing my Masters in Psychology in Estonia, I knew I would devote my life to working with people. The road took me to Manchester, UK where I qualified as a homeopath. At the same time, I had a strong interest in research and I completed a PhD in Medicine in 2019. I have been involved in numerous research studies with different age groups and health conditions and published in many prestigious academic journals over the last 10 years.
Since moving to Sydney in 2020, I have been involved with several homeopathy research projects with The Aurum Project. The clinic I work at as a homeopath is called the Harbord Homeopathic Clinic in Brookvale, Sydney.
I have loved homeopathy since my childhood and I am grateful to be able to offer this wonderful form of healthcare in Sydney and internationally via Zoom to babies, children, teens, adults, and pets. My wide range of experiences include treating mental health, emotional trauma, and behavioural issues in adults and children, gynecological concerns, pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal concerns, gastrointestinal problems, skin issues as well as problems with sleep.
I look forward to hearing your comments on the blog and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
1. New South Wales Agency for Clinical Innovation, Pain Management Network. Complementary and Alternative Medicine. URL = www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/212823/Pain-and-CAM-Therapy.pdf
2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021). Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. URL = www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/types-of-complementary-and-alternative-medicine
3. Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021). Samuel Hahnemann. URL = www.britannica.com/biography/Samuel-Hahnemann
4. Duquesne University. (2020). Complementary and Alternative Medicine: History. https://guides.library.duq.edu/complementary_medicine/history
6. The Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association. (2013). Evidence in support of private health insurance rebates for naturopathy.
6. Fleming, S. A., & Gutknecht, N. C. (2010). Naturopathy and the primary care practice. Primary Care, 37(1): 119-136.