Holistic vs Naturopathic: What are the Differences?

September 21, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • Holistic medicine treats the whole person, believing that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected.
  • Holistic treatment seeks to uncover the root cause of illness, rather than only treating symptoms.
  • Naturopathic medicine relies on natural substances and remedies for treatment.
  • All naturopaths are holistic practitioners, but not all holistic doctors are naturopaths.

Did you know that in addition to traditional or allopathic medicine, complementary and alternative medicine classes (CAM) like homeopathy and integrative medicine can provide treatment in more personalized ways?

Let’s take a closer look at alternative medical practices. In particular, we will compare two of the most common healthcare alternatives—holistic and naturopathic medicine. We will explore what each type of care means, as well as how you might benefit from each different approach.

What Does Holistic Mean?

Holistic medicine treats you as a whole person, taking into account your physical body, mind, emotions, and spirit. This is why whole-person medicine is another name for holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine believes that your mind, body, and spirit all connect and influence health issues.

As such, holistic medicinal practitioners view illness as a sign of a disconnect between your mind, body, and spirit. If just one aspect of your health is off, this also disrupts all of your other aspects.

Who Is Holistic Care For?

Holistic medicine might be for you if you believe you have agency over your own healing and treatment. Central to holistic medicine is the belief that you have an innate capacity to heal when it comes to your health, well-being, and treatment.

Holistic care focuses heavily on wellness. If you highly value self-care, mindfulness, and meditation, and seek to ground yourself through these practices to achieve a healthy lifestyle, then this type of care is likely a good fit for you.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Holistic Care?

Rather than just resolve the symptoms and look at the end result, holistic care seeks to discover the root cause of your ailment to prevent your symptoms from returning next time. Holistic care also benefits your overall wellness and will positively affect your mental health in addition to your physical health.

Holistic care can leave you feeling more seen because it values you as a person instead of as a patient or a medical case.

What Does Naturopathic Mean?

In 1901 Benedict Lust, MD founded the practice of naturopathy, which grew into the discipline of naturopathic medicine by the 1960s.

Naturopathic medicine uses natural substances and remedies, such as herbs, massages, exercise, and even acupuncture, to treat you.

Naturopathic physicians rely heavily upon the natural world and its many different elements for your journey to better health.

A key facet of naturopathic medicine is to use the least force necessary when developing a treatment plan.

Who Is Naturopathic Care For?

Naturopathic medicine has six principles, which include: do no harm, nature is a healing power, identify and treat the causes, the physician is a teacher, treat the whole person, and healing involves prevention.

Natural medicine might be for you if you value a strong connection to the natural world as a restorative force.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Naturopathic Care?

As a medical practice, naturopathy values wellness and seeks the least possible amount of intervention in treatment.

Naturopathic care also leaves you feeling more educated because there is a high emphasis on education as an integral part of the treatment plan.

How Are Holistic and Naturopathic Care Similar?

Holistic and naturopathic care both see you as a whole person whose emotional, physical, and mental aspects all interweave to create a condition or illness.

Both forms of care want to discover the root cause of your ailment in addition to providing treatment, and both form a comprehensive treatment plan that uses wellness techniques.

How Are Holistic and Naturopathic Care Different?

Naturopathy is a subtype of holistic medicine. All naturopaths are holistic practitioners, but not all holistic doctors are naturopaths. In other words, holistic medicine is an overarching belief system that can encompass many different types of healing, including naturopathy.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences below.

Belief System

Both naturopathic and holistic health believe in treating the whole person, including their mental, spiritual, and physical health as well as their underlying causes; however, holistic medicine believes that you can combine many different medical facets to do so, even if they do not encompass all-natural practices.

Scope of Practice

You do not need to go to medical school to practice naturopathy or to include holistic care in your remedies. Many providers may practice holistic medicine, including medical doctors and surgeons, chiropractors, and even naturopathic doctors.

On the contrary, some medical doctors have training in naturopathy but cannot be true naturopaths because they practice traditional or conventional medicine, which conflicts with naturopathy. Instead, naturopaths traditionally attend a four-year graduate program to become a Doctor in Naturopathic Medicine (NMD).

Diagnostic Methods

Holistic and naturopathic medicine both use various diagnostic methods, such as medical or laboratory tests, physical clinical examinations, pathology testing, nutritional analyses, consults, and empathic conversations that look at your emotional needs and your lifestyle habits. Naturopathy always prioritizes the least invasive techniques, however.

Treatment Methods

Both might use medical procedures, lifestyle changes, counseling, detoxification, and supplements. Naturopathy incorporates herbal medicine and natural remedies specifically, as opposed to pharmaceuticals.

How Can Holistic and Naturopathic Care Work with Traditional Medicine?

Both holistic and naturopathic care can work with traditional medicine to add a wellness-focused integrative approach to primary care. Holistic and natural care both bring a soothing and personalized aspect to treatment that traditional medicine lacks, and when these types of care combine with traditional medicine, we call it an ‘integrative’ form of medicine.  

Integrative health can be very beneficial to one’s overall well-being and can combine symptom mitigation with prevention measures that mitigate future symptom emergence.  

The Bottom Line

Holistic and naturopathic medicine are great forms of personalized care that treat you as a whole person with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs rather than just an illness or disease.

They are very similar forms of alternative medicine, although holistic medicine is a broader term for an approach to medical care, and naturopathy is a practice of medicine that falls under the holistic approach.

Whether holistic medicine or naturopathy is right for you depends on your needs, goals, and values as a person in your overall health journey.


Unifying Principles of Naturopathic Medicine Origins and Definitions | Integrative Medicine

What is Naturopathic Medicine? | AANMC

Principles of Holistic Medicine | AHHA

Evaluation of holistic medicine | ScienceDirect

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens before and after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with each of our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the insights that lead to true healing.

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