Naturopathy is a traditional healthcare profession defined by its philosophies, principles and theories. Naturopathic care is diverse, multi-modal and provides individualized care using a wide range of therapies and practices.

Naturopathic History

Many of the principles and philosophies of naturopathy originated in Germany and Europe in the 16th and 17th century. The original naturopaths – prior to 1900s – from around the world, were trained by European doctors using hydrotherapy, herbal medicine and other traditional forms of healing. Currently, European countries consider their practice of naturopathy as a system of healthcare that has evolved by incorporating the traditional medicine of each country with the naturopathic principles, theories, modalities and traditions that have been codified in North America.

North America is considered the home of modern naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine. Most North American schools are government-accredited and all regions within North America are working toward regulation or licensure. There are strong national and regional naturopathic associations, ongoing naturopathic research and specialized groups and journals to support the practice of naturopathic medicine. North America is credited with codifying the naturopathic principles and for contributing some of the established theories and practices that are now used worldwide.

Throughout its history, naturopathy / naturopathic medicine is introduced into a country when a naturopath / naturopathic doctor that has been trained in North America or Europe moves and takes their skills with them. There is a synthesis of the European or North American training with the traditional systems of medicine in their country. For example, naturopathy was introduced to India after a medical doctor was trained by naturopaths in Europe; two of the respondents from South East Asia indicated that they were originally trained in the USA.

The Health Technology Assessment – Naturopathy provides additional information on the roots of naturopathy globally.

Naturopathic Philosophies and Principles

Naturopathic care is guided by the philosophies of holism and vitalism and by the following seven principles:

Naturopathic Theories

There are a number of naturopathic theories practiced around the world including:

Naturopathic Care

Naturopathic care is individualized and multimodal. The therapies, practices and products used may vary by country, but commonly includes:

  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Applied Nutrition
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Lifestyle Counselling
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Naturopathic Physical Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Hygiene Therapy and Nature Cure

Some naturopathic doctors/naturopaths may have additional training including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Intravenous Therapy
  • Chelation Therapy
  • Minor Surgery
  • Colon Hydrotherapy
  • Prescription Rights

Global Naturopathic Education

It is essential that the naturopathic workforce be appropriately trained to ensure they can provide safe, effective, and appropriate care to patients. Educational standards are an important step in professional formation and often influence the regulation of the naturopathic workforce.

It is the aim of the WNF to support the highest educational standards in every jurisdiction/country. Although the WNF does not have the authority, or mandate, to accredit naturopathic programs it provides general educational guidelines for naturopathic programs globally. There are two emerging naturopathic programs globally – a 2500-hour naturopathic practitioner program and a 4000+ hour naturopathic doctor program. WNF Naturopathic Educational Program Guide

Global Naturopathic Regulation

Regulation is an essential tool that is widely used by governments and other stakeholders to strengthen health systems and to assure the quality of health services. The global naturopathic profession supports the regulation of the naturopathic workforce. While naturopathy is practices widely in many countries and is a relatively low risk profession, it is not risk free. To address the risks, occupational licensing or statutory registration is the WNF’s preferred model for regulation of the profession.

As of 2021, thirty-four (34) countries with a naturopathic workforce have some form of statue-based occupational regulation. An additional 21 countries have voluntary certification operated by one or more naturopathy professional associations. For more information on naturopathic regulation please check out Health Technology Assessment on Naturopathy, chapter 5.

Types of occupational regulation that apply to the naturopathy profession, by WHO Region & Member State

Type of occupational regulation
WHO RegionNo occupational regulation,
licensure or registration identified
Voluntary CertificationCo-regulationNegative licensingStatutory registration/
occupational licensing
African RegionAngola, Kenya, Mauritius ZambiaNone identifiedNone identifiedNone
Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Region of the AmericasAntigua and Barbuda, Argentina,
Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Virgin Islands
Bermuda, Brazil,
Canada1, United States of America1, Uruguay
Canada, Chile, Colombia,
Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, United States of America
Eastern Mediterranean RegionBahrain, Egypt, Iran,
Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar
None identifiedNone
Saudi Arabia, United
Arab Emirates
European RegionAustria, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Finland, Hungary, Israel,
Luxembourg, Russia, Slovakia,
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United KingdomNorway,
Albania, Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland
South-East Asia RegionIndonesia, Sri Lanka, ThailandNone identifiedNone
India, Nepal
Western Pacific RegionCambodia, China, Fiji, Japan,
Philippines, Republic of Korea,
Singapore, Vanuatu, Viet Nam
Hong Kong,
New Zealand
AustraliaAustraliaCook Islands, Malaysia,

1 Voluntary certification regimens are present in some provinces (Canada) and States (USA) when occupational licensing or
statutory registration is absent.