naturopathy or naturopathic medicine, branch of alternative medicine concerned with holistic and noninvasive methods of treating illness and maintaining health. Centered on the use of natural substances such as vitamins and herbs, naturopathy can also include homeopathy, manipulation of the body, and other approaches. Naturopathy also emphasizes the importance of a healthful diet and lifestyle in the prevention of disease. Licensed naturopaths, who are trained at accredited schools, are not physicians; they do not prescribe pharmaceutical drugs or perform surgeries. Embodying some principles dating to the Greek physician Hippocrates, modern naturopathy arose in Europe in the 1880s. It became extremely popular in the United States in the 1890s and the early 20th cent., and has experienced a resurgence in the early 21st cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.