Are naturopathic remedies the same as herbal supplements?

People have been using herbs to treat a wide range of ailments since prehistoric times. During the Middle Ages, the Chinese began taking a scientific approach to herbal medicine, cataloging thousands of herbs and their uses. Today, medical science recognizes that the natural compounds found in many herbs can have a profound effect – good and bad -on human health. Millions take herbal supplements to treat indigestion, insomnia, stress, fatigue, and other chronic health problems.

Naturopathy is a branch of medicine that uses a holistic approach to diagnose and treat a problem. Treatment plans are based on the underlying cause of an individual’s health issues, such as poor gut health, chronic fatigue, or a hormonal imbalance. Several types of treatment may be recommended. The goal of treatment is to promote the body’s natural healing abilities, alleviating pain and other symptoms and restoring balance and energy.

So what does naturopathy have to do with herbal supplements? Are naturopathic remedies the same as herbal supplements? At Charlotte, NC holistic medicine practice Carolinas Natural Health Center, we’ve encountered patients who think that naturopathy is only about herbal supplements. While naturopathic specialists often recommend herbal medicines and herbal supplements, they’re just one component of a holistic treatment plan that can also include special diets, exercises, sleep management techniques, meditation for mindfulness, and more. 

In this article, we hope to clear up any misunderstandings about naturopathic medicine, herbal supplements, and the relationship between the two.


Naturopathy is a Holistic Approach to Healing

Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare that emphasizes the body’s innate ability to heal itself. It encompasses a wide range of therapies, including nutrition, lifestyle counseling, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and more. The underlying principle of naturopathy is to address the root causes of illnesses rather than merely alleviating symptoms. Practitioners of naturopathy believe in treating the whole person – body, mind, and spirit – to promote overall wellness.


Herbal Supplements are Nature’s Healing Agents

So what’s the difference between naturopathic remedies and herbal supplements? 

When you search “naturopathy” on Google, you’ll likely find images of herbs, poultices, and brown vials. A keyword search for “herbal supplements” will reveal similar images. So it’s understandable that many people conflate the two concepts. 

Herbal supplements are a subset of naturopathy that involve the use of plant-derived substances to support health and treat various conditions. These supplements can include herbs, roots, leaves, flowers, and other botanical components. Herbal medicine draws on centuries of traditional wisdom and practices from different cultures, utilizing the healing properties of plants to promote balance within the body.

No one doubts the benefits offered by herbal medicine. Digestive issues, such as indigestion, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), respond very well to herbal supplements. Herbal remedies are also effective in managing stress and anxiety. Even skin conditions such as acne and eczema can be treated using herbs like calendula and aloe vera, both known for their anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties. 


How Herbal Supplements Support the Broader Goals of Naturopathic Remedies

As you begin to learn more about naturopathic medicine, you’ll begin to understand the relationship between naturopathic remedies and herbal supplements:

  • Scope of Practice

Naturopathy encompasses a broad spectrum of natural therapies, including herbal medicine, but extends beyond it. Naturopathic practitioners use various modalities such as nutrition, hydrotherapy, physical manipulation, and more to create personalized treatment plans.

  • Philosophy

Naturopathy adheres to the philosophy that the body possesses an inherent ability to heal itself. The goal is to facilitate and support this natural healing process. Herbal supplements, while part of naturopathy, focus specifically on the therapeutic properties of plants to target specific health concerns.

  • Individualization

Naturopathy places great emphasis on individualized treatment plans. Practitioners conduct comprehensive assessments to understand a patient’s unique constitution, lifestyle, and health goals. Within the context of naturopathy, herbal supplements can also be customized based on individual needs.

  • Holistic Approach

Naturopathy employs a holistic approach that considers not only physical symptoms but emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being as well. Herbal supplements are one of the tools used to achieve this comprehensive balance.

  • Training and Certification 

Naturopathic practitioners typically undergo rigorous training at accredited institutions and adhere to specific standards and regulations. The use of herbal supplements within naturopathy is guided by these professional standards, ensuring safe and effective treatments. For example, Dr. Michael Smith and Dr. Jill Cole have earned advanced certifications from leading institutions to provide clients with top-level care.  


Want to Experience Naturopathy for Yourself? Learn More

In the realm of natural healthcare, naturopathy, and herbal supplements stand as distinct yet interconnected concepts. 

Naturopathy represents a comprehensive approach to wellness, encompassing various modalities, including herbal medicine. Herbal supplements concentrate specifically on harnessing the healing properties of plants to improve health across a range of areas. 

Both options empower individuals to take an active role in their health, emphasizing prevention, self-care, and holistic balance. When considering either naturopathic remedies or herbal supplements, it’s essential to consult qualified practitioners and make informed decisions based on individual needs and goals. 

Ready to get started? Reach out to one of our naturopathic doctors in Charlotte, NC, by filling out our free discovery call form.