The roots of naturopathy are in Kneipp's healing system. One of the most important characteristics of Kneipp therapy is to gently stimulate the body "to give nature a gentle hand"—thereby strengthening the immune system and raising the tolerance to stress. Kneipp was a strong believer in physical exercise, simple food, and a "regular style of life for body mind, and soul." outlines the five pillars of Kneipp therapy:
Water works as a natural stimulus on the body. It increases energy, resistance to disease, and improves body-awareness. The therapeutic qualities of water have a positive effect on the nervous and hormone systems as well as the psyche. Kneipp hydrotherapy treatments are finely adjusted to suit the individual and situation.
2. Herbs — Phytotherapy
Kneipp has documented, scientific research that herbs and phytotherapy have a prophylactic or healing effect on the body. Kneipp herbal treatments can be prepared in various forms, such as teas, ointments, oils, baths, and herbal wraps.
Sensible physical exercise stimulates important functions of the body, including the muscular/skeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and the digestive tract. Massage is an indispensable supplementary treatment to exercise.
4. Nutrition — Dietetics
Kneipp believed that nutritional diseases can be avoided or cured by a well-balanced, low-fat diet consisting of fresh food prepared in such a way that the vitamins remain intact.
5. Lifestyle — Regulative Therapy
Lifestyle and Health Education must be considered the most important part of Kneipp's doctrine. In addition to leading a balanced life, Kneipp believed that it is of equal importance to strive to live in harmony with one's social and natural environment.