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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-13 (EDT)

See Also Naturopathic Therapies
See Also Homeopathic Medicine

Vitalism is a central tenet in the philosophy of naturopathic medicine. It refers to the view that life is governed by forces beyond the physical self. Often vitalism is associated with concepts of personal essence, spirit or soul and the term vitality refers to the inherent capacity of an organism to live, grow, develop and heal. The holistic approach of naturopathic medicine recognizes that the spiritual, psychological, functional, and structural aspects are one and the same and that to treat an individual you have to treat all aspects, including a person’s environment and external factors.[1]

Vitalism, or Vital Force describes the intelligence that animates each and every person. This is a concept that has been recongized universally for thousands of years and called by many different names, including life force, breath, chi, ki, prana, and mana', depending upon the particular culture or tradition. [2]

While modern vitalism is inherently holistic in its view and has an emphasis on circularity as its causality (i.e., feedback loops), there is no conflict with the findings of biomedical science. An organism's unique complexity - as demonstrated by its ability to grow and develop, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and repair itself - requires a level of organization and co-ordination that suggests a distinct quality that is not readily explained by mechanism. [3]

The concept of vitalism which is held by naturopathic medicine, is often contrasted to that of mechanism and reductionism which are held by conventional medicine. Vitalistic thinking also interprets symptoms and diseases very differently than in mechanistic thinking.


  1. Lloyd Iva (2009) The Energetics of Health, a Naturopathic Assessment Elsevier
  2. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth (1997) Homeopathic Self-Care, The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family. Prima Publishing
  3. Bradley Randall S. Philosophy of naturopathic medicine In Pizzorno Joseph E and Murray Michael T (1999) Textbook of Natural Medicine, Second Edition Churchill Livingstone