The difference between homeopathy and naturopathy


Originally published at:


Thank goodness. I’d hate to think the ocean might hold a grudge against me for all the times I peed it it.


Homeopathy is an excellent illustration of how powerful the placebo effect can be.


“Naturopathy, while not scientifically proven, is mostly based around using plants to treat diseases. Some of those remedies work, and on principle we can’t dismiss a treatment simply because it comes from nature.”, TFA

We dismiss Naturopathy because it is not scientifically proven or standardized. Dosages from plants are hard to regulate and in many cases can cause more harm than good. As stated in the article eating digitalis for heart problems can kill you.


And because nature in general wants to kill us off.


Fixed, etc.


The difference between homeopathy and naturopathy is that homeopathy is one of the many unproven therapies that are subsets of naturopathy.

Naturopathy is a philosophical approach to medicine, not a scientific one, and it is a very muddled philosophical approach since naturopaths don’t all agree on what “naturopathy” is or what therapies it includes. That is to be expected since naturopathy has neither a standard of care nor a scientific basis on which to decide what therapies should or should not be used.


Can you really blame it, though?


Homeopathy has nothing to do with Naturopathy, despite them both having “-pathy” in their name. They are completely and entirely different things.


The thing is there is a term for naturopathy that actually has been shown to work – medicine. Many medicines originate from natural sources. But what makes it a science is that we don’t stop there. Aspirin originated from tree bark. But modern aspirin and other painkillers related to it work far, far better than just chewing bark.


And because herbal/supplements manufacturers want to maximize profit, and are not regulated, so are deeply incentivized to fill capsules with much cheaper green flakes or white powders than what they print on the bottle.

There’s no regulation, and testing shows a lack of truth in labeling is consistent.

5 years earlier; heavy metals, pesticides, ingredients not as labeled.


Here’s a list of cancer drugs developed by the US National Cancer Institute.* From what I understand, researchers find thousands of plants and animals from around the world, the more toxic the better. They isolate the toxic chemicals and test them at various dilutions and combinations against cancer cells, cancer cells in glass tubes in mice (where the materials are possibly metabolized into something else), and so on, up to human clinical trials.

So indeed one can use “natural” substances, but a whole lot of luvin’ testing has to go on before figuring out what works. Just using rabid dog saliva ain’t gonna do it.

*our cat is on chlorabucil, from 1957, for lymphoma. Go NCI.


I wouldn’t say we dismiss Naturopathy because of that - it’s a legitimate field of study that can help us learn more about both nature and medicine. But we don’t use Naturopathy as a form of treatment for those reasons - you can’t reliably tell someone to eat X ounces of this particular root to help their arthritis, but not more than that or it’ll wreck your liver or whatever. You can be much more precise and standardized with modern medical practices.


It’s important for the general public to know that homeopathy is complete and utter nonsense, but Naturopathy doesn’t not need any kind bolstering… Naturopathy and homeopathy have each benefited from people confusing one for the other and now that homeopathy is on the back foot, naturopaths are probably afraid that they’re next under the microscope… The problem with Naturopathy is that they have no standard of care, yet continue to call themselves ‘naturopathic doctors’ and regularly push absolute nonsense along with potentially effective, albeit unscientific, treatment. If the treatments they prescribe can be shown to be effective, they should be standardized, and just be considered regular medicine. If they can’t rise to that standard, it shouldn’t be included in NIH, etc.


No, they really aren’t different things. Homeopathy is taught in all the major naturopathy schools. They are both unscientific medicine that many people think they understand but do not (not saying you are one of those people, though). We need look no further than the linked article to see the confusion. The Pop Sci article repeatedly conflates “natural remedies” with “naturopathy”. Now those two things are not the same - naturopathy doesn’t mean harmless herbal supplements - and I’m a bit surprised that Mark has fallen for this error.

Remember the incident where a homeopathic treatment made from rabid dog saliva was given to a child in Canada? That homeopathic treatment was given by naturopath Anke Zimmerman. Homeopathy is part of naturopathy, because naturopathy isn’t science, so anything goes. It is “medicine” that the practitioners make up as they go.


The basis of an old joke.

Q: Do you know what they call alternative medicine that actually works?

A: %#%#% Medicine %#%#%


I wouldn’t be that surprised… Mark has pushed that bulletproof coffee guy for years, along with other nonsense…


No, it is not a legitimate field of study, because without science it isn’t a valid study. It’s just making stuff up. You are falsely conflating herbal “medicine” with naturopathy.

Science is how we separate what is true from what seems to be true. Naturopathy is one method for how people ignore science to go with what seems to be true to them, even if that thing has been disproved by science.


Injecting my children with tiny amounts of compounds seems to have worked. Our pediatrician called it vaccination, though, and apparently the labels on things contain vast spooky magic :wink:

But now you are talking about the Middle Way, and the next thing you’ll be doing is acknowledging that homeopathy was a valid stepping stone to more advanced immunological thought, despite the nutpicking, or pointing out that herbalists are still an ongoing source of new medicines… Away with you, sir! Away!


And what is the photo documenting? Homeopathy or naturopathy? It appears to show tinctures made with thuja occidentalis, a plant with a long history in herbalism, ethnobotany, and naturopathy, and which appears to have some genuine antimicrobial properties. Yet the attribution tags it for homeopathy.

There’s a bit of ambiguity, I suppose. Many homeopathic remedies may start with a tincture or an infusion of a plant with legitimate therapeutic effects, which is then diluted into oblivion.