What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that employs an array of pseudoscientific practices branded as "natural", "non-invasive", and as promoting "self-healing". The ideology and methods of naturopathy are based on vitalism and folk medicine, rather than evidence-based medicine. Naturopathic practitioners generally recommend against modern medical practices, including but not limited to medical testing, drugs, vaccinations, and surgery. Instead, naturopathic study and practice rely on unscientific notions, often leading naturopathic doctors to diagnoses and treatments that have no factual merit.
Safety of natural treatments
Naturopaths often recommend exposure to naturally occurring substances, such as sunshine, herbs and certain foods, as well as activities they describe as natural, such as exercise, meditation and relaxation. Naturopaths claim that these natural treatments help restore the body's innate ability to heal itself without the adverse effects of conventional medicine. However, "natural" methods and chemicals are not necessarily safer or more effective than "artificial" or "synthetic" ones, and any treatment capable of eliciting an effect may also have deleterious side effects.
Certain naturopathic treatments offered by naturopaths, such as homeopathy, rolfing, and iridology, are widely considered pseudoscience or quackery. Stephen Barrett of QuackWatch and the National Council Against Health Fraud has stated that naturopathy is "simplistic and that its practices are riddled with quackery". "Non-scientific health care practitioners, including naturopaths, use unscientific methods and deception on a public who, lacking in-depth health care knowledge, must rely upon the assurance of providers. Quackery not only harms people, it undermines the ability to conduct scientific research and should be opposed by scientists", says William T. Jarvis.