Traditional Wisdom, Modern Science
"Nature cure was a system for treating diseases with natural agents such as water, air, diet, herbs and sunshine which developed in nineteenth-century Europe. Naturopathy was the combination of nature cure and homeopathy, spinal manipulation and other natural therapies which were developed in early twentieth-century America. Naturopathic medicine is the application of the principles of naturopathy within the context of modern scientific knowledge that has evolved throughout the last half of this century." (From the Introduction to Nature Doctors, by Friedhelm Kirchfeld and Wade Boyle.)
At the dawning of the 20th century, Benedict Lust brought together European nature cure, homeopathy, massage, spinal manipulation, therapeutic electricity and other natural therapies. He started the first school in 1901, the American School of Naturopathy, in New York City. Rightfully called "the father of Naturopathy," Lust set the stage for the development of naturopathic medicine through the last century.
Naturopathic medicine was popular and widely available throughout the United States and Europe well into the early part of the 20th century. In 1920, there were many naturopathic medical schools, thousands of naturopathic doctors, and tens of thousands of patients using naturopathic therapies around the country. One of those schools was in Denver. It operated from about 1920 to the 1960's.
By mid-century the rise of "technological medicine" and the discovery and increased use of "miracle drugs" like antibiotics were associated with the temporary decline of naturopathic medicine and most other methods of natural healing.
By the 1970's many Americans were realizing the limitations of conventional medicine, the many side effects of prescription drugs and the rising cost of health care. Millions began seeking alternatives and naturopathic medicine began to enjoy an increasing popularity.
Today, naturopathic doctors (NDs) are the nation's leading experts in natural medicine. In states where naturopathic medicine is regulated, many NDs act as family doctors, serving as primary care providers for insurance companies and general practitioners for families, while others specialize.
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