To understand natural healing, one must understand natural healing philosophy. The practice of Naturopathy has three main components: philosophy, science, and therapeutics. In Chiropractic this is called the “three-legged stool” of science, art, philosophy.
Naturopathic science encompasses more than materialistic science, and is a way of interpreting information that is indeed scientific, but seen through a vitalist lens. An example of this might be that a lower body temperature points to lowered vitality, not simply the thyroid's lack of ability to produce hormones. This is especially useful if the patient has normal thyroid test numbers, but has fatigue with a temperature below 97 degrees. This type of thinking leads to critical problem solving and developing a rationale for treatment.
Therapeutics is the how and why the different techniques are applied in a given situation. An example would be using hot packs for chronic muscular rheumatism, and cold packs for acute inflammation or trauma. While this example sounds simple and rather conventional, if similar thinking is applied through a whole range of therapeutic endeavors, then one truly understands how to use hydrotherapy. For instance, who would think that placing one's hand in ice water can lower the brain's temperature and induce relaxation of the nervous system? Another classic example is using a hot foot bath to draw down fever which usually shows up as a red face and hot head.
So it would seem that from the above that a good understanding of physiology and applied therapeutics is the key to natural healing (which we are here calling naturopathy). The third component of philosophy combines with science and art to produce clinical excellence and takes Naturopathy to another level. While Naturopathy does not have a monopoly on vitalist thinking, it is essential to the practice of its therapeutics. Here's a list of some of principles of Naturopathy:
First, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)
The Physician is a Teacher (Docere)
Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)
Additional principles can be found through other lists offered by different Naturopathic practitioners or organizations.
After Chiropractic, Naturopathy has the best preserved vitalist philosophy from the late 19th and early 20th Century. This is possibly because these two disciplines were the last in line to be created of the alternative medical systems. They also had strong vitalist practitioners in their traditions.