Naturopathy has become a popular alternative to conventional medicine

Kimberley Lehman

Naturopathy originated in Germany in the late 19th century and came to America around 100 years ago. In its early days, naturopathy was a fringe movement led by quacks peddling dubious elixirs and improbable treatments.

Naturopathy has grown steadily in popularity and respectability in the last two decades, establishing licensing laws and gaining recognition from the National Institutes of Health.

Naturopathy has become a popular alternative to conventional medicine in the US, attracting willing patients with its holistic approach, personalized care, and gentle, non-invasive therapies.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) lists over 4,500 licensed naturopaths in the US. Services include a wide range of natural therapies that include herbal medicine, nutrition, applied kinesiology, and biofeedback to treat conditions such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), without using drugs.

There is an increasing trend for patients to use alternative therapies alongside conventional treatments. A recent national survey shows that around 14 percent of Americans use some form of complementary or alternative therapies. Nearly 20 million Americans rely on natural products, and 9 million use mind-body therapies such as yoga.

A study published last year concluded that 44 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their health care system, believing it is too impersonal and fragmented, making them feel like just another case or number. Many Americans seek more personalized treatment to offer them the opportunity to work collaboratively with practitioners who are willing to spend more time listening and looking into how lifestyle factors may be affecting their health.

A growing number of people want their doctors to take a more holistic medical approach, seeing the patient as part of an integrated whole of body, mind, and spirit instead of treating them for particular symptoms.

Health insurance companies are also becoming increasingly willing to pay for alternative therapies. According to figures released last week by the federal government’s Health Care Financing Administration, 37 percent of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) now cover acupuncture, 23 percent offer chiropractic care, and 18 percent provide naturopathic treatments.

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