Because of the growing interest in traditional and alternative medicines, naturopathic medicine is likely to be evaluated by agencies in and outside the profession. The most appropriate methods for evaluation of naturopathic practice should be encouraged despite the fact that no single method will be completely satisfactory. The standard clinical research model that evaluates health outcomes of a single herb or nutrient does not take account of treatment effects that may result from multi-modality treatments nor the effects of an individualized regimen. Utilization of multiple therapies that are patient-specific is a key mode of practice for most naturopathic physicians. The largest treatment effects in health and disease management would be expected during an implementation of the whole practice in a study. There are two routes to clinical investigation of the whole practice of naturopathic medicine: observational studies (either retrospective or prospective) or intervention studies (clinical trials).
This presentation will review current methods and studies by each route to illustrate the fundamental principles of whole practice naturopathic research. It will describe some adjuncts and alterations to conventional research methods that enable a better fit with naturopathic medicine.