Learn / Naturopathic Medicine for Addiction Recovery

Naturopathic Medicine for Addiction Recovery

Hannah Friedman
 October 14th, 2022|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Key Points

  • Naturopathy, or alternative medicine, encourages the body’s natural healing processes.
  • Natural methods can support the mind and body through recovery.
  • These rehabs may be a good fit for people who prefer a holistic approach to healing.

Naturopathy is a type of medicine based on the idea that the body can heal itself. Instead of just treating your symptoms, naturopaths teach you healthy, sustainable habits. For example, you might alter your diet, take supplements, or start working out. And over time, these gentle changes support your body’s natural impulse to be well. 

A naturopath’s job is to identify the obstacles to your health, and help you move past them. And in a rehab with naturopathic treatments, this can be an important part of addiction recovery. 

What Is Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is sometimes called an alternative medicine.1 According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians,2 these specialists are versed in “certain areas of study not covered in conventional medical school. At the same time, aspiring naturopathic doctors receive training in the same biomedical and diagnostic sciences as MDs.” Naturopaths with the right training can even work as primary care providers. 

By law, naturopaths are licensed differently in various locations.3 In the U.S., for instance, insurance only covers this type of treatment in certain states. If you want to try naturopathy, talk to your rehab, and your insurance provider, about your options. 

Treating Addiction With Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a clearly established practice, and not an umbrella term. Many rehabs combine this approach with complementary holistic treatments, like energy healing. And yes, these activities can be part of a naturopathic treatment plan. But you won’t always receive them from the same provider. 

Some rehabs take a naturopathic approach to every aspect of addiction recovery. Others combine naturopathy with more traditional therapies. Either way, most naturopathic doctors4 use similar techniques to help you start healing. 


Most naturopaths will assess your dietary habits, and may suggest changes. This can have a major impact on addiction recovery. Many drugs damage your digestive health.5 And every drug has unique effects. Your personal history will inform your course of treatment. A naturopath might recommend that you take supplements, or cut out certain foods.

Some facilities, like Maison Ila, may even suggest intermittent fasting. At this treatment center, you’ll consult with a naturopath to learn about nutrition. Your bespoke meal plan will then be based on their suggestions. Every menu includes local and seasonal ingredients, sourced from the lush French countryside. 

Treatment at Maison Ila in France is tailored to each guest, including bespoke meal plans.

Hawaii Naturopathic Retreat also has a strong focus on nutrition. Clients may try one of several dietary plans, like therapeutic fasting, or a raw food diet. They also offer sugar-free and salt-free options. Each plan is “anti-inflammatory, high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.”6 The goal is to detoxify the body not only from drugs, but also from harmful chemicals. 

Naturopathic Medications

In many areas, licensed naturopaths can prescribe controlled substances.7 So in some programs, your naturopath may treat you using medication. And you might end up taking a well-known Western medication—or you might not. 

Naturopathic doctors can also prescribe botanical medicines to treat addiction.8 For example, some naturopaths use kratom, an herbal painkiller, for patients with opioid use disorder. Others, like the team at The Hermitage Centre, use naturopathy during initial detox. 

Detox regimens are highly-personalized at The Hermitage Centre in Gold Coast, Australia.


Although it’s a distinct type of treatment, homeopathy is often used by naturopathic doctors.9 And in some ways, it’s very similar to botanical medicine. Homeopathic remedies10 are very small—sometimes microscopic—doses of natural plant extracts. These treatments are usually delivered in pill form. 

While some studies show that homeopathy can treat addiction,11 more research is needed. But if you’re curious about this approach, a naturopath can answer your questions. Rehabs like Le Center for Health and Wellness recommend homeopathy during rehab—but only with close supervision. 

IV Drip Therapy

Pills aren’t the only way to ingest medication. In some areas, naturopaths can legally prescribe IV drip therapy.12 In this controversial method, clients receive vitamins, minerals, and nutrients intravenously. Supporters say IV drip therapy can treat addiction and other mental health issues. But many disagree. 

Ather Ali, a doctor of naturopathic medicine and health researcher at the Yale School of Medicine, falls squarely in the middle. According to his research, IV therapy is a placebo.13 But it’s often an effective one. And “when your child falls down and scrapes their knee, you give them a kiss,” he told NPR. “There’s value in that.”

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy14 can refer to most hands-on healing modalities. Massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and some physical therapy techniques fall into this category. If they have the right training, your naturopath might offer these treatments during rehab. Or, they might refer you to another specialist for complementary therapy. 

At The River Source, in Arizona, regular naturopathic massages help improve clients’ sleep patterns. These sessions help you let go of the physical and mental stress of recovery. 

The River Source in Arizona City uses a holistic approach to treatment.

Exercise as Addiction Treatment

Most primary care providers recommend exercise.15 But, as one study found, few recommend specific types of exercise. This leaves patients wondering what to do next. Naturopathic doctors Jennifer Gibbons and Osemekhian Okojie write that people with their expertise  “are uniquely qualified” to give clients more guidance. “The training we receive in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and biochemistry allows us to go beyond the general and broad fitness recommendations that one can find in an average health magazine,” they explain. 

At Hawaii Naturopathic Retreat, exercise is a big part of recovery. Clients go for walks, take yoga classes, and spend time at the gym. And with locations near Kealakekua Bay and Hilo Bay, “opportunities for self-guided exercise are almost limitless.”16 But even if you work out on your own, you’ll be following a treatment plan, tailored to help you recover. 

These activities affect more than your level of fitness. Researchers believe that exercise can also treat addiction.17 Preliminary studies show that working out helps normalize dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in both addiction and the feeling of satisfaction.18 And regulating it can improve both your physical and mental well-being. 

Mental Health Recovery

A peek into Le Center for Health and Wellness, located in Bellevue, Washington.

Naturopathy doesn’t only heal the body; it also supports mental health. At Le Center for Health and Wellness, lifestyle counseling is an essential part of treatment. And clients at Birch Wellness Center can get naturopathic treatment for anxiety, depression, and stress.

This approach may look different from traditional talk therapy. And it may not be right for everyone. But you don’t necessarily have to choose. Some centers invite you to combine naturopathy with other forms of treatment. The goal is to help you heal as effectively as possible. And that means something different for each client. 

Naturopathy Clears the Path to Recovery

This branch of medicine is rooted in profound trust. Naturopaths don’t just treat your symptoms. They might not even diagnose a cause. Instead, their job is to support you in the natural process of healing. With fewer barriers, and more effective tools, you can take the lead in your recovery journey. And when you’re empowered to heal yourself, life becomes far more sustainable. 

To start planning your recovery, learn more about rehabs that offer naturopathic treatment, including their locations, insurance coverage, and complementary therapies.

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