FNM Approach to Philosophy, Science and Traditional Knowledge


This report documents the process and findings of the Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda, a project funded by NIH-NCCAM through a grant that ran from August 1, 2002 through August 31, 2004. The goals of this project were:

  • Goal 1: To bring together naturopathic physicians and conventional research scientists in order to establish the Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda Workgroup;
  • Goal 2: From this process, to produce a document entitled “The Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda” that includes a prioritized list of research questions and areas, coupled with appropriate research design methods for each.

Participants in the project included over 1200 individuals, representing a broad range of scientific and clinical backgrounds. Input from the naturopathic profession itself was substantial, involving  participants from the naturopathic medical colleges and the national professional association, and encompassing many of the profession’s leading faculty, researchers, clinicians, and writers. Conventional physicians and scientists also participated broadly and made significant contributions through the NMRA Workgroup.

A series of meetings was held during the project period to elicit, discuss, analyze and prioritize feedback on the direction of the Agenda, and on the criteria by which decisions would ultimately be made. Articulation of the following guiding principles emerged:

The Agenda should be designed to test three fundamental hypotheses:

  • Naturopathic medicine is safe and effective for health promotion and for the prevention and management of a broad range of common conditions.
  • Increased availability of the services of naturopathic physicians will improve patient health in a cost-effective manner.

The scientific exploration of naturopathic medical practices and principles will yield important, perhaps even revolutionary, insights into the nature of health and the biology of

The Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project has begun engaging naturopathic scholars and scientists from all naturopathic medical colleges and conventional academic research communities in rigorously defining and updating the terms associated with these naturopathic concepts.

Scientists do not assume that the biology of healing is identical to or subsumed with the biology of disease.  Scientific investigation of naturopathic principle-driven hypotheses will require diverse basic and clinical methods. 

Four tracks have been identified to foster diverse research leadership and broad participation in research initiatives among the participating naturopathic medical colleges:

  • Publications and Information Dissemination Track (Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Bastyr University, and Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education and Research);
  • Diabetes Track (Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine; Bastyr University; National College of Naturopathic Medicine);
  • Gerontology Track: Health of the Elderly (Bastyr University; National College of Naturopathic Medicine); and
  • Whole Practice and Methods Track (National College of Naturopathic Medicine). 

These Tracks will allow each institution to appropriately focus its infrastructure development, as well as assist faculty, clinicians, and researchers to develop skills in specific areas of interest. 

Other implementation steps include:

  • Preparation of grant proposals to both government agencies and private foundations to fund the activities recommended by this report;
  • Development of a Web-based network and annual meetings to facilitate communication about the ongoing work, and to enable institutions and individuals that are geographically distant to collaborate effectively and efficiently;
  • Establishment of a mentorship program to match inexperienced naturopathic physician researchers with senior ones, and to disseminate information about training opportunities; and
  • Submission of papers based on work arising from the NMRA project to peer-reviewed journals in order to more formally analyze many of the suggestions that emerged and disseminate the findings.

Publications and Dissemination Track

The goals of this inter-institutional track are:

  1. Develop an expert based published series on writing style for scientific publications, grants and abstract presentations.
  2. Conduct workshops for interested investigators at the six naturopathic medical colleges
  3. Publish a special series of peer-reviewed scientific papers on the NMRA Special Topics Sessions over a period of two years in the International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine/
  4. Coordinate updated, rigorous, operational definitions for key concepts in naturopathic clinical theory in an academic textbook entitled Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine
  5. Develop mentorship programs between young investigators and well-published established researchers.

Establish a Web-based resource of all research publications on naturopathic medicine.

Modern Era – Codification Pathway

1905-1920: Lindlahr’s – The Philosophy of the Unity of Disease and Cure through Nature Cure

1986-1989: Definition of Naturopathic Medicine – Principles of Practice 

1997: Process of Healing, Model of Healing, Determinants of Health & Hierarchy of Therapeutics

1998: Therapeutic Order; Determinants of Health, NM Model of Healing

1998- 2003: Integration Project

2001: Principles rea-ratified

2002 – 2004: The Future and Foundations of Naturopathic Medical Research – The Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda:

2006: JACM April 2006 – The NMRA Executive Summary

2007 -Present: Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project

2010: Principles re-ratified

2015: Naturopathic Medicine Institute 

2012 – 2022: Revival – Restore the Vis, Revitalization, The Vis Retreat 

2022: FNM Institute

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