Updated: January 25th, 2022
what is naturopathic medicine


Maryland University of Integrative Health proudly joined the Maryland Naturopathic Doctors Association and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in celebration of Naturopathic Medicine Week October 8-14, 2017. We asked Dr. Aminah Keats to describe to us how she discovered naturopathic medicine, and how she practices in the field today.

Aminah Keats, N.D., FABNO is a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic oncology and has specialized in integrative oncology for over 10 years.

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Who is Aminah Keats?

During my senior year in college I discovered naturopathic medicine when I stumbled across an advertisement in the local newspaper for an 8-week course being offered by a naturopathic doctor in the area. I was immediately drawn to the description and the highlighted modalities, nutrition and herbal medicine. After completing the course, I felt like I had found my calling and undoubtedly wanted to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. I immediately began researching naturopathic medical schools and seven years later I began my studies.

Aminah Keats Experience with Naturopathic Medicine

The program was very challenging but gratifying at the same time. Creating bonds with fellow classmates was also a great pleasure. As I entered my final year of study, I thought that I would join a practice near my hometown in New Jersey after graduating. However, this plan changed after my advisor suggested that I look into an integrative oncology residency. I followed her advice and quickly became interested in learning more about the role of naturopathic medicine in oncology care. I then completed a 2-year, hospital-based residency at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. That was about 13 years ago and I continue to specialize in naturopathic oncology care today.

In my practice I emphasize patient-centered care by treating each patient with kindness and respect. Along with this standard, I provide patients with information and a number of different strategies that can be implemented utilizing nutrition, herbal medicine, supplementation and lifestyle factors with the goal of making the internal environment as inhospitable to cancer cells as possible. With these tools in hand my goal is to have patients feel empowered, optimistic and motivated to make significant changes to their health.


More and more, we are being called to “let thy food be thy medicine.” Important research is revealing to us just how powerful our diet—along with exercise, sleep, mindfulness, breathwork, herbal medicine, and other holistic lifestyle practices—is for living with, recovering from, and even preventing illness and injury.

Personally, I was called to medicine when I realized that there is more to health and wellness than pills and reactive rather than proactive interventions. For me, naturopathic medicine provides an important bridge between evidence-based healthcare and natural healing techniques. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Naturopathic Medicine

How does naturopathic medicine work? 

Naturopathic medicine works by combining evidence-based, holistic healing practices from a variety of cultures and traditions along with some conventionally-based techniques like pharmaceuticals and minor surgical procedures. These services are implemented in a way that supports the body’s self-healing ability, considers the whole patient (and not just their symptoms), identifies and addresses the causes of dysfunction and disease when possible, and uses the least-invasive and least forceful interventions whenever clinically and ethically indicated. Naturopathic practitioners embrace holistic practices from around the world and empower their patients to heal and thrive by using techniques such as diet and lifestyle counseling.

When appropriate, naturopathic medicine may also incorporate more conventionally-based approaches such as pharmaceuticals and minor surgical procedures.

What are the benefits of naturopathic medicine? 

Numerous naturopathy benefits exist, according to organizations including the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. We’ve seen that naturopathic medicine excels in areas of health promotion and disease prevention, and is proving to be a cost-effective approach to managing and preventing chronic disease. It’s also highly individualized, works in conjunction with conventional medicine, and is safe and effective for a wide range of conditions.

Will Naturopathic Medicine Work for My Condition?

Naturopathic medicine can be a great option for people with chronic health problems who are struggling to find relief from conventional approaches. Naturopathic medicine is appropriate for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of a wide range of health conditions, ranging from chronic pain and inflammatory conditions to fertility problems and heart disease.

What is natural medicine?

Natural medicine is a broad term often referring to naturopathy or naturopathic medicine. It draws on evidence and practical theory from multiple fields including conventional medicine, complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, psychology, and spirituality. AANMC describes it as the combination of “the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.”

Natural medicine seeks to promote healing, prevent disease, and optimize wellness by focusing on the whole person and their underlying causes of illness while utilizing the least-invasive treatments and modalities necessary.

What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), naturopathic medicine (alternately, naturopathy) is a field of medicine rooted in the elegant combination of modern science and nature. The profession is rooted in the work of European doctors from the 1600s and 1700s who utilized traditional therapies like herbal medicine to treat their patients.

Naturopathic medicine is founded on six key principles:

  1. First, do no harm (Primum non nocere)
  2. The healing power of nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)
  3.  Identify and treat the causes (Tolle causam)
  4. The physician as teacher (Docere)
  5. Treat the whole person (Tolle totum)
  6. Prevention (Praevenic)

What Naturopathic Practitioners Do? 

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) or naturopathic practitioners consider wellness in mind, body, and spirit when diagnosing, treating, and managing their patients with acute and chronic health conditions. The goal is to utilize the “least harmful and most effective approaches in order to help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.”