Research and the Naturopathic Profession

Research and the Naturopathic Profession

Addressing the question, “To what degree is naturopathy supported by research.”

The World Naturopathic Federation (WNF) recognises the importance of naturopathic research, and has created a WNF Research Committee, which is comprised of naturopathic researchers from around the world.

 The Committee holds the premise that there is a substantial body of research, both traditional and modern, that supports the practice of naturopathic medicine directly and indirectly. The WNF Research Committee has taken on two tasks. The first task is to identify the degree to which naturopathy is supported by research. This is a hefty task, and one that will utilize the work of many different naturopathic organizations and research centres globally.  The second task is to assist in the growth and development of naturopathic research globally.

The following are the steps that will help the WNF Research Committee accomplish their goals.

 WNF Research Committee:

  • Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND (Chair) – Canada
  • Dr. Ryan Bradley, PhD, ND – USA 
  • Dr. Kieran Cooley, PhD, ND – Canada 
  • Dr. David Lescheid, PhD, ND – Germany
  • Dr. Paul Saunders, PhD, ND – Canada
  • Dr. Amie Steel, Naturopath, PhD – Australia
  • Dr. Jon Wardle, Naturopath, PhD – Australia

WNF Website

The WNF website has a central focus on Naturopathic Research. The website highlights the following:

The WNF encourages all naturopathic educational institutions and naturopathic organizations from around the world to highlight naturopathic research on their own social media and website.

World Health Organization Response 

Establishing official collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) is one the main goals of the WNF.  Members of the naturopathic profession and the WNF have been attending the WHA and meeting with the Head of Traditional and Complementary Medicine at the WHO since 2013. 

On September 1st 2017 the WNF was asked to respond to the World Health Organization’s technical document on the Research in Traditional and Complementary Medicine. The naturopathic profession has responded to WHO documents in the past, but this was the first time the WNF was asked to participate in a WHO initiative. The WNF Research Committee prepared a detailed and comprehensive response clarifying the strengths of naturopathy and the research resources that are used in the naturopathic profession. The WNF will provide a link to the WHO publication once it officially released.

International Naturopathic Research Consortium

At the July 2017 WNF General Assembly, naturopath Dr. Amie Steel PhD from Endeavour College of Natural Health in Australia proposed that the WNF officially link with the International Research Consortium of Naturopathic Academic Clinics.  This consortium aims to advance international research in the naturopathic profession, to support collaborative relationships between researchers affiliated with naturopathic academic clinics and to enable the efficient conduct of international multicentre research projects through naturopathic academic clinics. The proposal was accepted by the WNF Executive.

The areas of cooperation will include any research project offered by any of the consortium members determined to be desirable and feasible for developing cooperative relationships including:

    • Research collaborations and joint publications
    • Exchange of faculty/students
    • Exchange of research materials
    • Joint applications for funding for research project
    • Collaboration in other areas that foster research cooperation

The criteria for membership includes offering training for naturopaths / naturopathic doctors which:

  • Comply with both the regional accreditations requirements
  • Meet standards for education membership set by the WNF
  • Provide supervised clinical training

The WNF believes that this consortium will help to advance naturopathic research globally and will provide a model for naturopathic educational institutions that are establishing a research department.

Members of the International Research Consortium of Naturopathic Academic Clinics (Oct 2017)

Consortium member Clinic Location Number of patients 
Bastyr University The Bastyr Center for Natural Health Seattle, WA, USA and San Diego, CA, USA 43,000
The Canadian College of Natural Medicine Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic Toronto, Ontario, Canada 35,000
Wellpark College of Natural Therapies Prema Clinic Albany, Auckland, New Zealand 306
South Pacific College of Natural Medicine Paua Clinic Ellerslie, Auckland, New Zealand 600
Southern School of Natural Therapies and Australasian School of Natural Therapies Think Wellbeing Centre Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia 2000
Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Publishing WNF Documents

With the aim of defining the global naturopathic landscape, the WNF has researched and published a number of documents since 2015. Those documents can be found at: 

Over the next two years the WNF will be publishing their results in other healthcare publications. For example, in 2015 the WNF carried out a global survey exploring the practice of naturopathy. The survey highlighted many commonalities especially as it related to naturopathic philosophies, principles and theories, as well as, the assessment and treatment approach. The 2015 survey confirmed that naturopathic regulation and educational standardization is a challenge.  In 2016 a follow-up survey was sent out to over 100 naturopathic educational institutions exploring what was taught in naturopathic educational institutions. The results of the 2016 survey were very similar to the 2015 findings.  Both of these survey results are in the process of being prepared for official publication externally.

It is the WNF’s aim to continue to publish reports and documents that help to define and support the global naturopathic community.  The WNF encourages all naturopathic organizations and educational institutions to ensure that their research, even if it only includes their local community, is published in the wider healthcare realm.

Current WNF Publications

  • 2015 World Naturopathic Federation Report
  • 2016 Naturopathic Roots Report
  • 2016 Naturopathic Numbers Report
  • WNF Strategic Plan 2019 and 2022
  • Defining the Global Naturopathic Profession
  • White Paper on Naturopathic Philosophies, Principles and Theories

WNF Research Projects

The WNF Research Committee is committed to four research projects over the next five years. Each of these projects is designed to address an aspect of the question, “to what degree is the practice of naturopathy supported by research.”  

  1. Analysing the research of naturopathic researchers
  2. Analysing the breadth and depth of naturopathic peer-reviewed articles
  3. Inclusion of naturopathy / naturopathic medicine in research
  4. Exploring the breadth and depth of research that supports naturopathic modalities
  1. Analysing The Research of Naturopathic Researchers

Like the focus of naturopathic medicine itself, naturopathic researchers are a very diverse group of individuals. They conduct research in the fields of public health, non-communicable diseases, psychology, environmental medicine, specific modalities, etc.  Due to this diversity, most people do not realize the body of research that has been published by naturopathic doctors.

This research paper will focus on original research conducted by naturopaths / naturopathic doctors over the last 20 years. The WNF has identified over seventy (70) naturopathic researchers that meet the criteria. The research paper will explore the focus of research (modalities versus conditions versus causal factors), the research design (systemic review, meta analysis, case studies, etc.) the outcome of the research, publication date and location, and the number of citations.

It is our premise that volume of naturopathic research has grown exponentially over the last ten years. Through this research we hope to highlight the tremendous growth in naturopathic publications, the breadth of naturopathic research and the quality of research provided by naturopathic researchers.

  1. Analysing Naturopathic Peer-Reviewed Articles

There are thousands of peer-reviewed articles that have been written by naturopaths / naturopathic doctors.  Many countries have an established naturopathic profession offering peer-reviewed naturopathic journals for their members. 

The WNF will be working with the International Research Consortium of Naturopathic Academic Clinics to identify and analyse the depth and breadth of peer-reviewed articles written by naturopaths / Naturopathic doctors. The WNF hopes that this research project will not only provide awareness to the volume of peer-reviewed articles written by naturopaths / Naturopathic doctors but will increase the intra-professional collaboration. 

  1. Inclusion of Naturopathy / Naturopathic Medicine in Research

One way to determine the advancement, acceptance and recognition of naturopathy / naturopathic medicine is to analyse its inclusion in research conducted by other organizations. For example, the Fraser Institute in British Columbia, Canada has conduct a survey in 1997, 2006 and 2016 looking at the use and attitudes of consumers towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Research such as this provides an objective look at the growth and acceptance of naturopathic services.  

The WNF research committee will be analysing the inclusion of naturopathy / naturopathic medicine in the broader research domain.  We will highlight the types of research that have been conducted, the findings that have been made and the general attitude toward naturopathy in the field of research.

  1. Reviewing the Research That Supports Naturopathic Modalities

Naturopathic medicine is an eclectic and integrative system of medicine. This final research project will explore the research behind the main modalities of the naturopathic profession including Clinical Nutrition, Applied Nutrition, Botanical Medicine, Hydrotherapy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Lifestyle Counselling and structural bodywork.

Other WNF Research Initiatives

The WNF will also be working on two other initiatives:

  • Global Survey on Integrative Healthcare. The WNF is involved in a global survey looking at the attitudes and use of Integrative Healthcare amongst Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM) and conventional medicine. The professions that will be asked to take part in the survey include: Ayurvedic Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Osteopathy and Indigenous systems of medicine, as well as conventional medicine. 

The WNF holds the premise that although there are individual practitioners and clinics that are promoting and are champions of integrative medicine, the drive for integrative health-care is not coming from the main T&CM systems of healthcare, nor from conventional medicine. Understanding the perceived benefits and challenges towards integrative health-care and the actions that professions have taken to-date will help to further define and clarify the role of integrative health-care in the wider health-care system.

  • Global Survey on Naturopathic Usage. The WNF plans to conduct a global survey to identify the types of patients that seek naturopathic care. Understanding the patient population that utilizes naturopathy is a common question asked of our profession and one that is used to shape regulation and government policy.

Over the next few years the WNF will be working on the above research projects with member organizations and naturopathic educational institutions. It is the aim of the WNF to further the global representation of the profession, and to assist in increasing the profile of the naturopathic profession.  The WNF Research Committee will be posting updates to each of these projects on its website at:  If you have any questions or would like to participate in any of these projects, please contact Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND at

Iva Lloyd ND, WNF President
Tom Greenfield ND, WNF Secretary