naturopathic medicine for alcoholismNaturopathic medicine for alcoholism is a holistic approach to health. It includes diet and nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Also hydrotherapy, exercise, spinal manipulation, and massage. Its therapies may include the use of electric currents, ultrasound, and light.

According to the National Association of Naturopathic Physicians

The primary cause of disease is reaction to unnatural environment . . . When the body is weighted down by toxins in excess of the amount with which the vital force is able to cope, then enervation… supervenes and there is a lag in the body’s power to expel the “ashes” of metabolism… Enervation leads to the secondary cause of so-called disease — toxemia. Toxemia is the state of auto-intoxication resulting from the accumulation of poisons in the body – poisons taken in from without in the form of incorrect food, impure water, vitiated air, etc., and which are not thrown off by the body because of its enervated state, and in addition thereto the poisons formed within the body itself by the processes of metabolism. . . The presence of these poisons within the blood stream and tissues causes the vital force to make efforts to eradicate toxemia, and these efforts are what is called “diseased crises.” . . . Disease, therefore, is not a hostile entity to be attacked, but is rather a manifestation of vital force in its efforts to continue to live and to remove anti-vital conditions caused by man’s deliberate, or ignorant, breaking of the laws of health and life … Disease, then, is the result of stagnation and accumulation of filth in the blood stream and in the tissues1 .

The goal of naturopathy is to return the body to a natural state of purity and good health.

A naturopathic medical school explains that:

Naturopathic medicine (sometimes called “naturopathy”) is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) blend centuries-old knowledge and a philosophy that nature is the most effective healer with current research on health and human systems.2

There are six principles of naturopathic medicine described by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.

  • First Do No Harm. Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.
  • The Healing Power of Nature. Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes. Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.
  • Doctor as Teacher. Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.
  • Treat the Whole Person. View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.
  • Prevention. Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.3

Given the nature of alcoholism and drug use it would appear that naturopathic medicine for alcoholism might be effective.

Unfortunately, medical research has not found naturopathic medicine for alcoholism treatment to be effective. It’s no more effective for alcoholism than the use of a placebo (“sugar pill”).

The most popular approach to alcoholism is through Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). It has a success rate of only about 5%. This is a very large failure rate. If a medication or other therapy had no better success rate, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) would not approve its use.

However, many programs have a much higher success rate than A.A. and other 12 step programs. They include these.

Moderation Management.

HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support).

Rational Recovery.


SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training).

Life Process Program.

Women for Sobriety.

There need be no concern about the ineffectiveness of naturopathic medicine for alcoholism. The existence of effective programs enables people to get the help they need to lead lives free of alcohol problems.

Further Reading

  • Atwood, K.C. Naturopathy. Medscape Med., March 5, 2004.
  • Beyerstein, B.L., and Downey, S. Naturopathy. In: Sampson, W. and Vaughn, L. (Eds.) Science Meets Alternative Medicine. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2000. Pp. 141-163.
  • Guendling, P.W., et alRequirements and barriers for practice-based research in naturopathy and complementary medicine: a qualitative interview study. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2007, 12, 25-42.
  • DeGrandpre, Z. The Naturopathic Treatment of Alcoholism. N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy) diss. Portland, OR: Nat Coll Natural Med, 2007.
  • Telles, S., et al. Research on traditional medicine.. Evidence-Based Comp Alt Med, 2014, Supp., 25-30. Article ID 495635.
Other Resources


1. National Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Outline for Study of Services of Practitioners Performing Health Services in Independent Practice. (Report submitted to the Public Health Service by J. W. Noble, President, National Association of Naturopathic Physicians), pp. 3-4.

2. Bastyr University. What is Naturopathic Medicine?

3. What is Naturopathic Medicine?

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Filed Under: Treating Alcoholism: General Approaches