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What is the Difference Between Homeopathy and Naturopathy?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Homeopathy and naturopathy, while often believed to be the same thing, are vastly different in practice and acceptance by modern medicine. Homeopathy utilizes highly diluted substances to treat illness, while naturopathy uses lifestyle changes and herbal remedies for treatment. Homeopathy and naturopathy both focus on a patient’s physical and emotional well being, but homeopathy has little to no acceptance from the medical community. In contrast, some modern doctors use a mix of naturopathy and modern medical treatments to heal their patients.

Homeopathy, meaning “like suffering” in Greek, was founded by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s when he developed the theory of the law of similars. He believed that taking a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in a healthy person and diluting it would help people suffering from that disease to heal themselves. On the other hand naturopathy, roughly translating to “nature disease” in Greek, was made popular in the 19th century by Benedict Lust. This practice is based on using natural substances and lifestyle changes to support the body in healing itself, thus focusing more on overall health than on one single disease or ailment.

Considered baseless by the majority of the medical community, homeopathy typically takes a substance and dilutes it until little to none of the original substance is left. This is done by placing the ingredient in a base liquid, shaking it, straining it, shaking it again, and so on until the desired level of the material remains. This is based on Hahnemann’s theory of the memory of water, which states that the base will retain the essence of the harmful substance without any of the substance left, making the medicine harmless. This theory has no real scientific basis; due to the amount of dilution, it is difficult for scientists to recreate or study homeopathic remedies. The dilution process also makes it exceedingly difficult for any consistency among homeopathic remedies.

Naturopathy, on the other hand, focuses primarily on lifestyle changes, such as healthy natural eating, exercises like yoga, and natural remedies for health issues such as herbs, acupuncture, or meditation. A good example of this would be drinking honey lemon tea and using a saline solution for a common cold, rather than taking over-the-counter cold medication. This focus on overall health, rather than the unfounded theories of homeopathy, is what has caused many modern doctors to utilize some natural remedies in their practice. As between homeopathy and naturopathy, the latter is usually the only one that aims to work with modern medicine rather than against it.

While homeopathy and naturopathy are similar in that they treat a person on an emotional and physical level, the similarities tend to end there. Homeopathy essentially aims to force the body to heal itself while naturopathy aims to provide the body with the strength to heal itself on its own. Unlike homeopathy, naturopathic medicine is formally recognized as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the United States.

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