Updated: Oct 31
The interesting thing about naturopathy, at least for a teacher of critical thinking, is that it appears to be an entire ideology built upon a single, fairly common and easily identifiable fallacy: Argumentum ad Naturam or Appeal to Nature. This is the assertion that something is good because it is “natural” or that it is bad because it is “unnatural”.
It is of course pretty easy to dispute this fallacy by listing out all the natural products that can kill you, a list which ranges from arsenic to ionizing radiation, and yet somehow the label “all natural” continues to hold an enduring appeal. So much so in fact that naturopaths continue to apply that label of “all natural” to a variety of things that quite blatantly are not.
There are numerous practices within the world of naturopathy which are far from natural, these include vitamin megadosing, intravenous injections of supplements, starvation diets and highly-processed herbal supplements. Not to mention the non-naturopathic treatments many naturopaths engage in such as spinal manipulation, magic sugar pills and sticking the body with needles.
A closer examination into the philosophy behind the treatments reveals that there is nothing natural there either; naturopathy, like many pre-scientific ideologies relies on Vis Medicatrix Naturae, the healing power of nature, and is based on vitalism, the idea that living organisms are animated by a metaphysical energy, a concept which has no-place in our modern scientific understanding of nature.
There are elements of naturopathy that have some value, such as its emphasis on healthy diets, relaxation techniques and regular sleep patterns, but ultimately the cost benefit analysis seems to go against it. Besides, I for one am happy to have entirely unnatural health care, after all, as Robert Todd Carroll points out, “Getting a medical degree is unnatural”.