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Why Treating the Whole Patient, Not Just the Disease, Can Revolutionize Your Health: The Power of Naturopathic Medicine

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on March 13, 2023

Naturopathic medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on the prevention and treatment of disease through natural means. One of the key principles of this practice is treating the patient as a whole, not just their disease. This means considering all aspects of the individual's physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being when developing a treatment plan. (1)

In traditional Western and allopathic medicine, the focus is often solely on treating the disease, rather than the patient as a whole. This approach can lead to a narrow focus on the symptoms and the use of medications or treatments that only target those symptoms. While this may provide temporary relief, it does not address the underlying cause of the disease or the patient's overall health. (2)

Naturopathic medicine takes a different approach, emphasizing the importance of understanding the root cause of the disease and working with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. This may involve a combination of natural therapies, such as herbal remedies, nutrition counseling, acupuncture, or physical therapy, as well as lifestyle changes, such as stress management, exercise, and sleep hygiene.

By treating the patient as a whole, naturopathic medicine practitioners aim to promote overall wellness and prevent future disease. They recognize that each patient is unique and that the treatment plan must be tailored to the individual's specific needs and circumstances.

In addition to providing more effective treatment, this holistic approach can also improve the patient's quality of life. By addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, patients may experience improved energy, better sleep, reduced stress, and a greater sense of overall well-being. (3)

In conclusion, treating the patient who has the disease, not just the disease, is a critical aspect of naturopathic medicine. By taking a holistic approach that considers all aspects of the individual's health, naturopathic practitioners can provide more effective treatment and promote overall wellness for their patients.


  1. Gordon JS. Holistic medicine: advances and shortcomings. West J Med. 1982 Jun;136(6):546-51. PMID: 7113200; PMCID: PMC1273970.
  2. Ahn AC, Tewari M, Poon CS, Phillips RS. The limits of reductionism in medicine: could systems biology offer an alternative? PLoS Med. 2006 May;3(6):e208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030208. PMID: 16681415; PMCID: PMC1459480.
  3. Albabtain H, Alwhaibi M, Alburaikan K, Asiri Y. Quality of life and complementary and alternative medicine use among women with breast cancer. Saudi Pharm J. 2018 Mar;26(3):416-421. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2017.12.020. Epub 2018 Jan 3. PMID: 29556133; PMCID: PMC5856939.

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