Leadership Blog Series: Principles of Naturopathic Medicine and COVID-19

Welcome to our leadership blog series! This month Girija Bhonsle, Chapter President of National University of Natural Medicine, discusses how the principles of naturopathic medicine comes into play with current events.

Leadership Blog Series: Principles of Naturopathic Medicine and COVID-19

The world is struggling right now. We are fighting an invisible invader that is affecting many of us personally and professionally. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus, and is the cause of the COVID-19 illness that has made its way around the world, creating a pandemic of unprecedented proportions, and along the way has changed the way we live. It has also impacted the way we use, and practice, medicine. I have had many conversations with my classmates these past few weeks and those discussion have led me to think how, more than ever, naturopathic medicine has a place in the emerging medical landscape surrounding COVID-19. In reviewing the principles of naturopathic medicine, it’s very interesting to see how some of them actually have quite a lot to do with current events.

Vis Medicatrix Naturae: this process describes how to allow nature to heal you; that your body instinctively knows the way to health and we are just there to guide it on the path. If you feel ill or you are currently at home or in a hospital receiving care, take the time your body needs to recover. One of my professors said that when you don’t feel like getting out of bed, don’t. Your body is trying to tell you that it needs to stay in bed and rest. Everyone’s body is different and operates on a individual timeline. Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you think!

Prevention: this principle points out that the best course to wellness is preventing illness by strengthening our immune system and avoiding transmission of viruses, bacteria, and other vectors of disease. I interpret this as the simplest tenet our world needs right now: Stay Home! Transmission of COVID-19 occurs rapidly, even from asymptomatic carriers, so in order to treat the cause (another principle ☺), we must avoid spreading the virus rather than simply treating those who are or become ill. There has been a lot of talk of prevention in the media lately, mostly due to the multiple unknowns around COVID-19, and potential treatments for those who have become infected. Perhaps the best course would be to: stay home, keep a 6 foot barrier from other people, and wear masks–then those who are healthy can stay that way!

Docere: this principle is about educating our patients, teaching them how to care for their own health. In our world, right now, there are so many unknowns, so many questions, fears and anxieties about this coronavirus and COVID-19. But it is also an amazing time for gaining knowledge and education on how to keep ourselves healthy. Physicians are emphasizing the benefits of hand washing, personal protection, social distancing and common sense as barriers to this novel virus and are ones that we should be conveying to our patients, not only during a pandemic, but are applicable at all times. Educating our patients is the best part of being a naturopathic physician, because it is all about empowering them to be the healthiest they can be!

I hope you, and your loved ones, stay healthy and safe during this pandemic and we should all look forward to healthier times in the near future.

With happiness and health,

Girija Bhonsle


Girija Bhonsle is a 4th year ND student at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in neurobiology and psychology in 2011.  Prior to joining NUNM, Girija was employed at Massachusetts General Hospital as manager of the Pulmonary Function Lab and worked as a research coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
A strong supporter of the vision of NMSA, Girija has served as Social Events chair and Vice President of the NUNM chapter. Her goals as NMSA President for the upcoming year include highlighting the unique breadth and depth of the naturopathic therapeutic toolbox by encouraging interaction and participation between the various clubs and societies on campus. This collaborative effort will benefit all ND students by improving communication between the groups and strengthen their common bond of optimizing patient care and health outcomes.
Her clinical interests include pediatric and adolescent medicine with a special focus on disordered eating and mental health. She is currently the lead Teaching Assistant for the clinical Anatomy course block under Dr. Ryan Chamberlin and will be starting a Clinical Assistantship at the NUNM Health Center with Dr. Amanda Watters in Spring 2020. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling with friends and family, hiking, yoga, weight training, watching movies, and being a mom to her new kitten, Violette Blue.


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