The Five Elements of Naturopathy

The Five Elements

Sarvam Dravyam Panchabhoutikatvam (Panchamahabhutas are the building blocks of everything on earth).Panchamahabhutas or the five elements of nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether – are the sources of life and energy. Air originates from Ether, Fire originates from Air, Water originates from Fire and Earth originates from Water. The human body is made up of these five elements as well and disintegrates into its constituent elements upon death. A balance between these elements is required in our body for us to be healthy. Improper diet, eating habits, stress and lifestyles result in an imbalance thereby causing various health disorders.The Panchamahabhutas manifest themselves in different ways within the human body and serve a specific and important function:5 elements

  1. Earth: It has the highest density amongst all five elements and manifests itself in all body mass. Thus, our muscles, bones, skin, nails, teeth, etc. represent the Earth element. An excess of Earth in our body causes obesity. On the other hand its deficiency causes emaciation. Amongst our sensory organs, Earth is associated with the sense of smell.
  2. Water: Water signifies flow and constitutes all body fluids and fat within the human body. It is essential for several critical functions like maintaining body temperature, transporting nutrients, antibodies, hormones as well as waste, balancing body electrolytes and providing a basic medium for body’s metabolic activities. Water is also associated with the sense of taste.
  3. Fire: Fire provides the energy required for all activities in our body. It controls our body temperature as well as metabolic rate. A balance around this element is essential for smooth functioning for all our body activities. Amongst our sensory organs, Fire is associated with the sense of vision.
  4. Air: Air controls all voluntary as well as involuntary body movements. It is also responsible for our thoughts, emotions as well as electrical impulses. Air is associated with the sense of touch.
  5. Ether: Ether is omnipresent and provides a medium for everything to exist. In the human body it manifests itself in the form of various cavities and pores. It is the most subtle of all the five elements. Amongst our sensory organs, Ether is associated with the sense of sound.

A balance between these elements helps restore our vitality and keep off diseases. This is one of the essential building blocks of a Naturopathy treatment, which promotes harmony between the Panchamahabhutas through proper diet, exercise and appropriate natural therapies


Naturopathy History

Naturopathy1The modern form of Naturopathy traces its origin to 19th century Europe, even though similar treatments were used in the Hippocratic School of Medicine way back in 400 B.C. Naturopathy was first introduced in the US by a German named Benjamin Lust in 1902 when he founded the American School of Naturopathy. The treatments were based on the fundamentals of using natural remedies, good hygiene and a balanced diet.

With the advent of the modern day medicines, Naturopathy saw a decline in its popularity over the next several decades. It was not until the 1960s that the treatment methodology saw resurgence in terms of its acceptance. This was driven by the limitations of the modern medicine system as well as the safety and efficacy of other alternative treatments including Naturopathy.

Even though Naturopathy as a term made its way into India towards the late 19th century, our Vedas and other ancient texts have numerous references about nature-based healing treatments. With the advent of foreign literature as well as adoption and propagation by Mahatma Gandhi, Naturopathy underwent a revival phase in India around the 1940s.

The first college in India offering a Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences (BNYS) degree was set up in Hyderabad in 1970. The department of Indian Systems of Medicines and Homeopathy (ISM&H) came into existence in 1995, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. It was renamed as AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) in 2003. As of 2013 there are 15 colleges in India offering a 5.5 years BNYS degree.

Naturopathy Philosophy

Naturopathy2Naturopathy is a holistic, drugless system of healing with the underlying belief that the 5 elements in the universe – earth, water, air, fire and space – that make up our bodies too, have the power to heal our systems of any issues. Naturopathy aims to restore vitality through supporting and stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms by addressing an individual’s lifestyle, genetic-predisposition or dietary imbalances.

Naturopathic physicians operate according to six core values:

  1. Do no harm
  2. Promote the self-healing power of nature
  3. Remove the root cause of illness, rather than eliminating or suppressing symptoms
  4. Educate and encourage self-responsibility for health
  5. Treat the person not just the disease
  6. Promote overall well-being to prevent diseases


The system does not believe in the germ theory of diseases. Instead, there are three basic tenets that guide its philosophy and practice:

  1. The accumulation of toxins in the body is the root cause of all diseases. This could be the result of various factors like improper diet, lack of hygiene, pollution, adulterated food, hectic lifestyle, stress, etc. Thus, the natural treatments employed are directed towards the removal of these toxins.
  2. All acute diseases are efforts on part of the body to get rid of the accumulated toxins and all chronic diseases are a result of continued suppression of these acute diseases through harmful and invasive methods like drugs and vaccines. Even though Naturopathy has a strong preventive aspect, it is very effective in treating acute as well as chronic health issues.
  3. The human body has a self-healing capability with the right enablers. Thus, the power to cure a disease lies within the body itself. We just need to facilitate the process with right diet, exercise, meditation and the application of natural elements.

The treatment administered strives to restore the balance between the natural elements in the human body.This enhances the vitality of the overall system thereby ‘curing’ the individual of multiple health issues at the same time. It also equips individuals with an understanding of their body as well as the importance of good diet and lifestyle management for continued good health.


Disclaimer:All information, data and material has been sourced from multiple authors and is for general information and educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your treating doctor.

The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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