Tuesday, April 29, 2008

History of Naturopathic Medicine

This is a very, very brief summary. Please read the book Nature Doctors by Friedhelm Kirchfeld & Wade Boyle to get a good understanding of where naturopathy came from.

The term naturopathy (a hybridization of the Latin-natura and the Greek-pathy) was first coined in 1892 by John Scheel, a MD in New York. Benedict Lust, a German immigrant who had been helped by Father Sebastian Kneipp's water cure, came to America in 1896 to teach Kneipp's hydrotherapy methods. Benedict Lust purchased the term, "naturopathy" from Dr. Scheel in 1902. Lust was looking for a term that was not persecuted by the Medical Doctors of the time and used it to describe the methods of healing taught at his school. In 1956, Joseph Boucher (who was born in Edmonton) was joined by John Bastyr to open National College of Naturopathic Medicine (initially in Seattle before moving to Portland). Boucher was said to be a key figure in keeping naturopathic medicine alive during the tremendous hardships endured by Naturopaths in the 50's, 60's and 70's.

This is a very brief overview the beginnings in North America, however, the roots of naturopathy are in Europe where nature cure (water, sunlight, exercise, diet) began and can even be traced all the way back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Chinese civilizations. (Click here for an article on Medicine in the Ancient World)

Today, Naturopathy formally consists of:

1. Nutritional Medicine
2. Herbal Medicine
3. Lifestyle Counseling
4. Physical Medicine (spinal adjustments, massage, hydrotherapy)
5. Traditional Chinese Medicine
6. Homeopathic Medicine

Furthermore, there are now many more therapies that are offered by some Naturopaths including IV therapy, chelation therapy, Bowen, etc. Therefore, Naturopathy is an umbrella term used to describe many methods by which a person can maintain or regain health.


Anonymous said...

I am interested more in the Egyptian practices of naturopathic medicine. Can you tell me more, or what pages in "Nature Doctors" would be relevant for me to look at?

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Thank-you for your interest. The Nature Doctors book focuses on the growth of naturopathy from Europe and unfortunately does not include any middle eastern origins. However, several herbs, specific dietary measures as well as the use of water are described in some ancient texts including the Bible (I do not have a specific reference for you at this time, sorry).

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

I found a book in our library called "An Ancient Egyptian Herbal" by Lise Manniche. This book describes the extensive knowledge the Egyptian's had about plants and also their use as food and medicine. You may find this book interesting.