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The reductionist belief is that the nature of complex things can be explained and broken down into smaller parts: i.e., that is each organ system of the body functions and can be treated in isolation of other organ systems. For example, if an individual has high blood pressure, treatments are often directed at managing the functioning of the heart or blood vessels often with little or no attention paid to the psychological or structural factors.

The concept of reduction-ism is commonly held by conventional medicine. The naturopathic view is based more on the concepts of vitalism and treating the whole person.