The History of Naturopathy

Lust and his wife founded the Yungborn Nature Cure Health Resort in New York state. There they incorporated other disciplines and therapies compatible with the basic principles of "Nature Cure." In 1902, Lust began using the term Naturopathy to describe the mixture of disciplines and therapies he used to treat illness. Three years later he founded the first school of Naturopathic Medicine under the laws of the State of New York.

Throughout North America in the early 1900s, this movement blossomed with the opening of more than 20 schools offering programs in Naturopathic Medicine. In 1925, Ontario formally recognized Naturopathic Medicine under the Drugless Practitioners Act. Arizona followed with their act in 1935. British Columbia enacted the Naturopathic Physician's Act in 1936, followed by Alberta and Manitoba in the 1940s. After World War II, antibiotics and advanced surgical techniques created a growing belief that medical science and technology would soon cure most if not all known sickness and disease. Naturopathic profession, with its emphasis on self-healing and independence from profitable drugs and heroic procedures, declined rapidly in post WWII America.

Arenaissance in Naturopathy began in North America and Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s. People and governments became aware of the limitations of science and medical technology. A growing public interest in alternative or complementary medicine to maintain and restore health has led to a resurgence of belief in the importance of diet, lifestyle, personal choice to ideal health. This validated the original principles and teachings of the Naturopathic profession.

Naturopathic medicine in the United States came into existence just over 100 years ago. Its origin was rooted in the Nature Cure movement in Europe that developed in the 1800s, a movement that encouraged the use of natural therapies to treat disease. These ideas were brought to the United States by a German immigrant named Benedict Lust. While the art of using natural therapies was long established and centuries old, Benedict Lust incorporated their use into a medical profession, modeling naturopathic medical training after that of medical doctors at that time. He combined the study of modern medical science with the study of natural therapies and philosophy that have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. The uses of herbal remedies, dietary interventions, hydrotherapy, and lifestyle changes have been used throughout history and in nearly every culture. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, first formulated the concept of vis medicatrix naturae -- "the healing power of nature." This concept has long been at the core of medicine in many cultures around the world and remains one of the central themes of naturopathic medicine and practice today.

Naturopathic medicine was popular and widely available throughout the United States and Europe well into the early part of the 20th century. Conventional medicine and naturopathy were at one time quite similar in their use of medicinal plants, diet therapies, and hydrotherapy treatments. Only within the last 40 to 50 years has conventional medicine diverged from this path.

In 1920, there were many naturopathic medical schools, thousands of naturopathic doctors, and thousands of patients using naturopathic therapies around the country. There was even a naturopathic school in Denver that operated from about 1920 to the 1960's. But by mid-century the rise of "technological medicine" and the discovery and increased use of "miracle drugs" like antibiotics caused the decline of naturopathic medicine and most other methods of natural healing.

By the 1970s, many were becoming disenchanted with what had become "conventional medicine." The profound clinical limitations and out-of-control costs were becoming problematic and the side effects of prescription drugs often outweighed their benefits. As a result, millions of Americans choose to look for options and alternatives. Naturopathy, and all of complementary and alternative medicine, began an era of rejuvenation.


Naturopathic History

How Did Naturopathy Begin?

Naturopathic treatments originated as the use of herbs and foods for medicine, exposure to fresh air and sunlight, and hydrotherapy (the use of hot and cold water application) as steam or sauna. These techniques and methods have long been respected throughout the world. While modern allopathic medicine is a youngster of less than 200 years old, Natural Medicine has been the primary medicine used by most of the human community even into the 21st Century. Herbal and traditional medical arts remain the primary medical choice of over 65% of humanity.

Naturopathic Medicine was first established as a distinct profession in North America at the turn of the 20th century by Benedict Lust, a German immigrant. Lust had been a student of Father Sebastian Kneipp, famous in Europe for being involved with a movement known as "Nature Cure." That was the system of employing clean food, water, air, sun, and exercise with hydrotherapy as healing agents to restore health.


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