Modern Naturopathy History: A Chiropractic Legacy

Dr. Benedict Lust (M.D., D.C., N.D.) a German physician and chiropractor who emigrated to the United States in 1892, was America’s first naturopathic doctor. While mocked by the establishment for his ‘revolutionary’ concepts of fitness, vegetarianism, and healthy living, Benedict Lust created the first health food store as we know it, and crystallised naturopathy ‘s focus on diet and nutrition as the main pathway to health. He also began the country’s health spa, in Butler NJ, and in 1902 founded New York’s first naturopathic college, the American School of Naturopathy and Chiropractic. If you wish to learn more about this, visit Mattingly Chiropractic.

“Where there is no official recognition and supervision, you can find plotters, criminals, charlatans working on the same basis as conscientious practitioners … Honestly, such circumstances can not be remedied unless the statute, or the discipline itself, develops adequate protections for the practise of Naturopathy.”

— Benedict Love, the founding father of naturopathy in around 1902.

Naturopathic medicine expanded in the 1910s and 1920s, but in the 1930s and 1940s, the pressure from pharmaceutical firms, political officials, the emergence of antibiotics and many other factors caused a drastic decline: in 1910, when the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released the Flexner Study, which criticised many aspects of medical education in various institutions (non-national). It led many such projects to be shut down, and added to traditional medicine ‘s success. Schools were shut down, sanatoriums shut down, and physicians had their privileges revoked. However, because chiropractic colleges met the educational expectations that the “Flexner” reform imposed upon the medical establishment, most of them remained open and flourished. Yet Naturopathic medicine was considered unscientific and founded on unproven folk belief, with its plants, Nature Cure and holistic view of the body. But it was almost lost.

Naturopathic medicine hasn’t gone anywhere though. It was kept alive by chiropractors in Portland, Oregon where Western States Chiropractic College graduates could enrol and receive a degree in naturopathy in a 2-year postgraduate course of study. This lasted until they discontinued the initiative in 1956. In 1956, many naturopaths and chiropractors formed the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, to keep the practise of naturopathy going. She moved to Seattle briefly and then returned to Portland where she is today. Naturopathic medicine had begun to grow quite slowly.