Why is this important?

The current global disease burden and associated healthcare costs now escalating at an alarming rate can be diminished through a wider focus on health promotion and disease prevention, based on knowledge of the healing process and the root causes of disease. Naturopathic medicine is uniquely poised to make important contributions to this movement, through its broadly integrative range of modalities, its healing practices, and its health-restoring approaches to primary and specialty care. As naturopathic physicians and institutions apply naturopathic philosophy, clinical strategies, therapies, research, and the Naturopathic physician workforce to the disease challenge, they are positioned to increase the 'healthspan' of populations increasingly burdened by multiple chronic diseases, and consequent decreasing lifespan. By researching important concepts in naturopathic clinical theory, naturopathic scientists have a significant opportunity to make innovative contributions to the science of health and healing, and resulting health policy.

At the core of our work is a charge from the National Institutes of Health Center for Integrative Health (NCCIH, formerly NCCAM) Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda (NMRA report; 2005)* to the naturopathic medical community to "operationalize" its core concepts in support of innovative research in multiple domains, particularly around the nature of healing through advancing naturopathic research and the NMRA. This landmark report acknowledged that FNM's work (to codify naturopathic knowledge, rigorously define the field, and "operationalize concepts" such as the healing power of nature) is critical for scientific investigation and research of naturopathic medicine.

FNM's work is also important to research scientists in other disciplines in order to

  • support investigation of breakthrough approaches to healing which exceed the use of 'green drugs,'
  • address frontier integrative health topics, such as the process and nature of healing, the healing response, the vital force, and
  • address the whole practice of naturopathic medicine.

Scientific research on the naturopathic concept of Therapeutic Order™ for instance, is addressing the question, "Does clinical emphasis on the naturopathic medicine determinants of health before using green drugs (or pharmaceutical drugs), create more lasting, health optimizing and cost efficient health outcomes?" Another example of research which depends on operationalized naturopathic concepts is investigation of the impact of a traditional whole practice of nature cure involving constitutional hydrotherapy, what is its effectiveness in engaging the healing response, and in healing a range of cancers and other serious, intractable conditions? Advancing scientific understanding of the nature of healing and of traditional concepts such as the vis medicatrix naturae involves scientific characterization, observation and evaluation of phenomena such as vital force, adaptation, resilience, intention, the healing relationship, and the healing response among other healing concepts. Discovery research in natural healing is essential work across all health care disciplines, in order to transform health care and create a healthier world.

*[Standish, L. Calabrese C. Snider P. (2005). The future and foundations of naturopathic medical science: The naturopathic medical research agenda. Bastyr University Press: Kenmore, WA.]

The Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project has received an amazing outpouring of scholarship in response to these questions.

Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine 2013