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World-first scoping study shows benefits in naturopathic medicine treatments


Sharlene King
1 March 2019

Researchers at Southern Cross University have found naturopathic medicine favourable in the treatment of a wide range of chronic conditions after conducting the world’s first systematic scoping study on its clinical benefits.

Published in the February issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the scoping study summarises the current state of the research evidence for whole-system, multi-modality naturopathic medicine. Modalities* are clinical techniques.

The research project took a year to complete and scoured the scientific literature for all papers that reported human research which evaluated the effectiveness of naturopathic medicine. Southern Cross’ research team of Professor Stephen P Myers and Vanesaa Vigar included those papers where two or more naturopathic modalities were delivered by naturopathic clinicians to participants.

Naturopathic medicine was found to be beneficial for a wide range of chronic conditions including cardiovascular disorders, musculoskeletal pain, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, hepatitis C, menopausal symptoms, bipolar disorder, asthma and in increasing cancer survival time.

“The study clearly shows for the first time the broad range of effectiveness of naturopathic medicine which has been demonstrated by clinical research,” said lead researcher Professor Stephen Myers.

“This study coupled with the large body of literature which demonstrates the effectiveness of individual naturopathic tools of trade (nutritional and herbal supplements and lifestyle interventions) there can no longer be any doubt that naturopathic medicine is an effective approach to chronic disease.”

The World Naturopathic Federation has identified seven core modalities of naturopathic medicine:

  • clinical nutrition and diet modification/counselling;
  • applied nutrition (use of dietary supplements, traditional medicines, and natural health care products);
  • herbal medicine;
  • lifestyle counselling;
  • hydrotherapy;
  • homeopathy, including complex homeopathy; and
  • physical modalities (based on the treatment modalities taught and allowed in each jurisdiction, including yoga, naturopathic manipulation, and muscle release techniques).

The researchers identified 33 published studies involving 9,859 participants. The studies came from research conducted across the globe and included 11 USA; 4 Canada; 6 Germany; 7 India; 3 Australia; 1 UK; and 1 Japan (the paper from Japan covered a range of mainly chronic clinical conditions).

The study is open access and available free online from the New York publisher, Mary Ann Libert, Inc at


*Australian naturopaths have nutritional medicine, herbal medicine and tactile therapies as their core modalities.