The History of Naturopathic Medicine: The Emergence and Evolution of an American School of Healing

Chapter 4 The History of Naturopathic Medicine

The Emergence and Evolution of an American School of Healing

image Introduction

Naturopathy, as a generally used term, emerged in America from the writings and promotion of Benedict Lust. Naturopathy, or “nature cure,” is both a way of life and a concept of healing that employs various natural means of treating human infirmities and disease states. The earliest mechanisms of healing associated with the term, as used by Lust, involved a combination of hygienics and hydropathy (hydrotherapy). The term itself was coined in 1895 by Dr. John Scheel of New York City to describe his method of health care. However, earlier forerunners of these concepts already existed in the history of natural healing, both in America and in the Austro-Germanic European core.

Lust came to this country from Germany in the 1890s as a disciple of Father Sebastian Kneipp, a Dominican priest, and as an emissary dispatched by Father Kneipp to bring hydrotherapy to America. Lust purchased the term “naturopathy” from Scheel in 1902 to describe the eclectic compilation of doctrines of natural healing that he envisioned to be the future of natural medicine. In January 1902, Lust, who had been publishing the Kneipp Water Cure Monthly and its German language counterpart in New York since 1896, changed the name of the journal to The Naturopath and Herald of Health and evoked the dawn of a new health care era with the following editorial:

Naturopathy is a hybrid word. It is purposely so. No single tongue could distinguish a system whose origin, scope and purpose is universal—broad as the world, deep as love, high as heaven. Naturopathy was not born of a sudden or a happen-so. Its progenitors have for eons been projecting thoughts and ideas and ideals whose culminations are crystallized in the new Therapy. Connaro, doling out his few fixed ounces of food and drink each day in his determined exemplification of Dietotherapy; Priessnitz, agonizing, despised and dejected through the long years of Hydropathy’s travail; the Woerishofen priest, laboring lovingly in his little parish home for the thousands who journeyed Germany over for the Kneipp cure; Kuhne, living vicariously and dying a martyr for the sake of Serotherapy; A.T. Still, studying and struggling and enduring for his faith in Osteopathy; Bernarr Macfadden, fired by the will to make Physical Culture popular; Helen Willmans, threading the mazes of Mental Science, and finally emerging triumphant; Orrison Sweet Maraden, throbbing in sympathy with human faults and failures, and longing to realize Success to all mankind—these and hosts of others have brought into being single systems whose focal features are perpetuated in Naturopathy.

Jesus Christ—I say it reverently—knew the possibility of physical immortality. He believed in bodily beauty; He founded Mental Healing; He perfected Spirit-power. And Naturopathy will include ultimately the supreme forces that made the Man of Galilee omnipotent.

The scope of Naturopathy is from the first kiss of the new-found lovers to the burying of the centenarian whose birth was the symbol of their perfected one-ness. It includes ideally every life-phase of the id, the embryo, the foetus, the birth, the babe, the child, the youth, the man, the lover, the husband, the father, the patriarch, the soul.

We believe in strong, pure, beautiful bodies thrilling perpetually with the glorious power of radiating health. We want every man, woman and child in this great land to know and embody and feel the truths of right living that mean conscious mastery. We plead for the renouncing of poisons from the coffee, white flour, glucose, lard, and like venom of the American table to patent medicines, tobacco, liquor and the other inevitable recourse of perverted appetite. We long for the time when an eight-hour day may enable every worker to stop existing long enough to live; when the spirit of universal brotherhood shall animate business and society and the church; when every American may have a little cottage of his own, and a bit of ground where he may combine Aerotherapy, Heliotherapy, Geotherapy, Aristophagy and nature’s other forces with home and peace and happiness and things forbidden to flat-dwellers; when people may stop doing and thinking and being for others and be for themselves; when true love and divine marriage and pre-natal culture and controlled parenthood may fill this world with germ-gods instead of humanized animals.

In a word, Naturopathy stands for the reconciling, harmonizing and unifying of nature, humanity and God.

Fundamentally therapeutic because men need healing; elementally educational because men need teaching; ultimately inspirational because men need empowering, it encompasses the realm of human progress and destiny.

Perhaps a word of appreciation is due Mr. John H. Scheel, who first used the term “Naturopathic” in connection with his Sanitarium “Badekur,” and who has courteously allowed us to share the name. It was chosen out of some 150 submitted, as most comprehensive and enduring. All our present plans are looking forward some five or ten or fifty years when Naturopathy shall be the greatest system in the world.

Actually the present development of Naturopathy is pitifully inadequate, and we shall from time to time present plans and ask suggestions for the surpassing achievement of our world-wide purpose. Dietetics, Physical Culture and Hydropathy are the measures upon which Naturopathy is to build; mental culture is the means, and soul-selfhood is the motive.

If the infinite immensity of plan, plea and purpose of this particular magazine and movement were told you, you would simply smile in your condescendingly superior way and straightway forget. Not having learned as yet what a brain and imagination and a will can do, you consider Naturopathy an ordinarily innocuous affair, with a lukewarm purpose back of it, and an ebbing future ahead of it. Such is the character of the average wishy-washy health movement and tumultuous wave of reform.

Your incredulous smile would not discomfit us—we do not importune your belief, or your help, or your money. Wherein we differ from the orthodox self-labeled reformer, who cries for sympathy and cringes for shekels.

We need money most persistently—a million dollars could be used to advantage in a single branch of the work already definitely planned and awaiting materialization; and we need co-operation in a hundred different ways. But these are not the things we expect or deem best.

Criticism, fair, full and unsparing is the one thing of value you can give this paper. Let me explain. Change is the keynote of this January issue—in form, title, make-up. If it please you, your subscription and a word to your still-benighted friends is ample appreciation. But if you don’t like it, say so. Tell us wherein the paper is inefficient or redundant or ill-advised, how it will more nearly fit into your personal needs, what we can do to make it the broadest, deepest, truest, most inspiring of the mighty host of printed powers. The most salient letter of less than 300 words will be printed in full, and we shall ask to present the writer with a subscription-receipt for life.

By to-morrow you will probably have forgotten this request; by the day after you will have dropped back into your old ways of criminal eating and foolish drinking and sagged standing and congested sitting and narrow thinking and deadly fearing—until the next progress paper of New Thought or Mental Science or Dietetics or Physical Culture prods you into momentary activity.

Between now and December we shall tell you just how to preserve the right attitude, physical and mental, without a single external aid; and how, every moment of every day, to tingle and pulsate and leap with the boundless ecstasy of manhood consciously nearing perfection.

image A Brief History of Early American Medicine with an Emphasis on Natural Healing

To understand the evolutionary history of naturopathic medicine in this country, it is necessary to view the internal development of the profession against the historical, social, and cultural backdrop of American social history.

Medicine in America: 1800–1875

In the America of 1800, although a professional medical class existed, medicine was primarily domestically oriented. An individual who fell ill was commonly nursed by a friend or family member who relied upon William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine (1769), John Wesley’s Primitive Physic (1747), or John Gunn’s Domestic Medicine (1830).1

Professional Medicine

Professional medicine transferred from England and Scotland to America in pre-revolutionary days. However, eighteenth and early nineteenth century America considered the concept of creating a small, elite, learned profession to run counter to the political and institutional concepts of early American democracy.1

The first medical school in the American colonies opened in 1765 at what was then the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania), and the school was dominated by revolutionary leader and physician Benjamin Rush, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence. The proliferation of medical schools to train the new professional medical class began seriously after the war of 1812. Between 1810 and 1820, new schools were established in Baltimore, Lexington, Cincinnati, and even in rural communities in Vermont and Western New York. Between 1820 and 1850 a substantial number of schools were established in the western rural states. By 1850, there were 42 medical schools recognized in the United States, although there were only three in all of France.

Generally, these schools were started by a group of five to seven local physicians approaching a local college with the idea of establishing a medical school in conjunction with the college’s educational facilities. The schools were largely apprenticeship based, and the professors received their remuneration directly from fees paid by the students.

The requirements for a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century America were roughly as follows:

Graduating students had to be at least 21 years of age.1

The rise of any professional class is gradual and marked by difficulties, and varying concepts existed as to the demarcation of a “professional” physician. Contrasts included graduates of medical school versus nongraduates, medical society members versus nonmembers, and licensed physicians versus unlicensed “doctors.” Licensing statutes came into existence between 1830 and 1850, but were soon repealed, as they were considered “undemocratic” during the apex of Jacksonian democracy.1


In 1822 the rise in popularity of Samuel Thomson and his publication of New Guide to Health helped to frustrate the creation of a professional medical class. Thomson’s work was a compilation of his personal view of medical theory and American Indian herbal and medical botanical lore. Thomson espoused the belief that disease had one general cause—“cold” influences on the human body—and that disease had therefore one general remedy—“heat.” Unlike the followers of Benjamin Rush and the American “heroic” medical tradition who advocated blood-letting, leeching, and the substantial use of mineral-based purgatives such as antimony and mercury, Thomson believed that minerals were sources of “cold” because they came from the ground and that vegetation, which grew toward the sun, represented “heat.”1

As noted in Griggs’ Green Pharmacy (the best history of herbal medicine to date), Thomson’s theory developed as follows2:

Thomson’s view was that individuals could be self-treating if they had a sincere “guide to health” philosophy and a copy of his book, New Guide to Health. The right to sell “family franchises” for use of the Thomsonian method of healing was the basis of a profound lay movement between 1822 and Thomson’s death in 1843. Thomson adamantly believed that no professional medical class should exist and that democratic medicine was best practiced by laypersons within a Thomsonian “family” unit.

By 1839, Thomson claimed to have sold some 100,000 of these family franchises called “friendly botanic societies.” Although he professed to have solely the interests of the individual at heart, his system was sold at a profit under the protection of a patent he obtained in 1813.

The Eclectic School of Medicine

Some of the “botanics” (professional Thomsonian doctors) wanted to separate themselves from the lay movement by creating requirements and standards for the practice of Thomsonian medicine. Thomson, however, was adamantly against a medical school founded on his views. Thus, it was not until the decade after Thomson’s death that independent Thomsonians founded a medical college (in Cincinnati) and began to dominate the Thomsonian movement. These Thomsonian botanics were later absorbed into the medical sectarian movement known as the “eclectic school,” which originated with the New Yorker Wooster Beach.

Beach was another of medical history’s fascinating characters. From a well-established New England family, he started his medical studies at an early age, apprenticing under an old German herbal doctor, Jacob Tidd. After Tidd died, Beach enrolled in the Barclay Street Medical University in New York. Griggs2 described the following:

After opening his own practice in New York, Beach set out to win over fellow members of the New York Medical Society (into which he had been warmly introduced by the screening committee) to his point of view that heroic medicine was inherently dangerous to mankind and should be reduced to the gentler theories of herbal medicine. He was summarily ostracized from the medical society.

To Beach this was a bitter blow, but he soon founded his own school in New York, calling the clinic and educational facility “The United States Infirmary.” However, due to continued pressure from the medical society, he was unable to obtain charter authority to issue legitimate diplomas. He then located a financially ailing but legally chartered school, Worthington College, in Ohio. He opened a full-scale medical college; out of its classrooms he launched what became known as the Eclectic School of Medical Theory. Griggs related the following2:

Cincinnati subsequently became the focal point of the eclectic movement, and the E. M. Institute medical school remained until 1938 (the last eclectic school to exist in America).3 The concepts of this sect helped to form some of the theoretical underpinnings of Lust’s naturopathy. Lust himself graduated from the Eclectic Medical College of the City of New York in the first decade of the 1900s.

Despite his criticism of the early allopathic movement (although the followers of Rush were not as yet known by the term “allopath,” reputed to have been coined by Samuel Hahnemann) for their “heroic” tendencies, Thomson’s medical theories were “heroic” in their own fashion. Although he did not advocate blood-letting, heavy metal poisoning, and leeching, botanic purgatives—particularly Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco)—were a substantial part of the therapy.

The Rise and Fall of the Sects

Although these two nonallopathic sects were popular, they never comprised more than one fifth of the professional medical class in America. Homeopathy at its highest point reached roughly 15%, and the eclectic school roughly 5%. However, their very existence for many years kept the exclusive recognition desired by the orthodox profession from coming within its grasp. Homeopathy was distasteful to the more conventional medical men not only because it resulted in the conversion of a substantial number of their peers, but also because homeopaths generally also made a better income. The rejection of the eclectic school was more fundamental: it had its roots in a lay movement that challenged the validity of a privileged professional medical class.

The existence of three professional medical groups—the orthodox school, the homeopaths, and the eclectics—combined with the Jacksonian view of democracy that prevailed in mid-nineteenth century America, resulted in the repeal of virtually all medical licensing statutes existing before 1850. However, by the 1870s and 1880s, all three medical groups began to voice support for the restoration of medical licensing.

Views differ as to what caused the homeopathic and eclectic schools to disappear from the medical scene in the 50 years after 1875. One view defined a sect as follows5:

By this definition, the orthodox or allopathic school was just as sectarian as the homeopathic and eclectic schools. Rothstein’s view was that these two nineteenth century sects disappeared because, beginning in the 1870s, the orthodox school grasped the European idea of “scientific medicine.” Based on the research of such men as Pasteur and Koch and the “germ theory,” this approach supposedly proved to be the medically proper view of valid therapy and gained public recognition because of its truth.

Another view was that the convergence of the needs of the three sects for professional medical recognition (which began in the 1870s and continued into the early 1900s) and the “progressive era” led to a political alliance in which the majority orthodox school was ultimately dominant by sheer weight of numbers and internal political authority. Starr1 noted the following:

In any event, this development was an integral part of the drive toward professional authority and autonomy established during the progressive era (1900–1917). It was acceptable to the homeopaths and the eclectics because they controlled medical schools that continued to teach and maintain their own professional authority and autonomy. However, it was after these professional goals were attained that the lesser schools of medical thought went into rapid decline.1

The American Influence

From 1850 to 1900, the medical counterculture continued to establish itself in America. From its lay roots in the teachings of the hygienic movement grew professional medical recognition, albeit a small minority and “irregular” view, that hygiene and hydropathy were the basis of sound medical thought (much like the Thomsonian transition to botanic and eclectic medicine).


The earliest physician who had a significant impact on the later growth of naturopathy as a philosophical movement was Russell Trall, MD. As noted in James Whorton’s Crusaders for Fitness,4 he “passed like a meteor through the American hydropathic and hygienic movement”:

The exemplar of the physical educator-hydropath was Russell Thatcher Trall. Still another physician who had lost his faith in regular therapy, Trall opened the second water cure establishment in America, in New York City in 1844. Immediately he combined the full Preissnitzian armamentarium of baths with regulation of diet, air, exercise and sleep. He would eventually open and or direct any number of other hydropathic institutions around the country, as well as edit the Water-Cure Journal, the Hydropathic Review, and a temperance journal. He authored several books, including popular sex manuals which perpetuated Graham-like concepts into the 1890’s, sold Graham crackers and physiology texts at his New York office, was a charter member (and officer) of the American Vegetarian Society, presided over a short-lived World Health Association, and so on. His crowning accomplishment was the Hygeian Home, a “model Health Institution [which] is beautifully situated on the Delaware River between Trenton and Philadelphia.” A drawing presents it as a palatial establishment with expansive grounds for walking and riding, facilities for rowing, sailing, and swimming, and even a grove for open-air “dancing gymnastics.” It was the grandest of water cures, and lived beyond the Civil War period, which saw the demise of most hydropathic hospitals. True, Trall had to struggle to keep his head above water during the 1860’s, but by the 1870’s he had a firm financial footing (being stabilized by tuition fees from the attached Hygeio-therapeutic College). With Trall’s death in 1877, however, the hydropathic phase of health reform passed.

As evident later in this chapter, this plethora of activity was similar to that engaged in by Benedict Lust between 1896 and his death in 1945, when he worked to establish naturopathy. The Hygeian Home and later “Yungborn” establishments at Butler, New Jersey, and Tangerine, Florida, were similar to European nature cure sanitariums, such as the original Yungborn founded by Adolph Just and the spa/sanitarium facilities of Preissnitz, Kneipp, and Just.

Trall gave a famous address to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, in 1862, under the sponsorship of the Washington Lecture Association. “The true healing art: or hygienic vs drug medication,” a 2.5-hour lecture purported to have received rapt attention, was devoted to Trall’s belief in the hygienic system and in hydropathy as the true healing art. The address was reprinted by Fowler and Wells (New York, 1880) with an introduction written by Trall, before his death in 1877.

Trall also founded the first school of natural healing arts in this country to have a 4-year curriculum and the authorization to confer the degree of MD. It was founded in 1852 as a “hydropathic and physiological school” and was chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1857 under the name “New York Hygio-Therapeutic College,” with the legislature’s authorization to confer the MD degree.

In 1862, Trall went to Europe to attend the International Temperance Convention. He took a prominent part at this meeting of reformers, specifically related to the use of alcohol as a beverage and as a medicine. He eventually published more than 25 books on the subjects of physiology, hydropathy, hygiene, vegetarianism, and temperance, among many others.

The most valuable and enduring of these was his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, a volume of nearly 1000 pages that covered the theory and practice of hydropathy and the philosophy and treatment of diseases advanced by older schools of medicine. At the time of his death, according to the December 1877 Phrenological Journal cover article featuring a lengthy obituary of Trall, this encyclopedia had sold more than 40,000 copies since its original publication in 1851.

For more than 15 years, Trall was editor of the Water-Cure Journal (also published by Fowler and Wells). During this period, the journal went through several name changes, including the Hygienic Teacher and The Herald of Health. When Lust originally opened the American School of Naturopathy, an English-language version of Kneipp’s Water-cure (or in German Meine Wasser-kurr) being unavailable, he used only the works and writings of Trall as his texts.

By 1871, Trall moved from New York to the Hygeian Home on the Delaware River. His water-cure establishment in New York became The New Hygienic Institute. One of its co-proprietors was Martin Luther Holbrook, who later replaced Trall as the editor of The Herald of Health. Professor Whorton noted the following4:

Trall and Holbrook both advanced the idea that physicians should teach the maintenance of health rather than simply provide a last resort in times of health crisis. Besides providing a strong editorial voice espousing vegetarianism, the evils of tobacco and drugs, and the value of bathing and exercise, dietetics and nutrition, along with personal hygiene, were strongly advanced by Holbrook and others of the hygienic movement during this era. Whorton described the idea as follows4:

Holbrook expanded on the work of Graham, Alcott, and Trall and, working with an awareness of the European concepts developed by Preissnitz and Kneipp, laid further groundwork for the concepts later advanced by Lust, Lindlahr, and others4:

In addition to introducing the works of Kneipp and his teachings to the American hygienic health care movement, Holbrook was a leader of the fight against vivisection and vaccination4:

The Beginnings of “Scientific Medicine”

While the hygienic movement was making its impact, the orthodox medical profession, in alliance with the homeopaths and eclectics, was making significant advances. The orthodox profession, through the political efforts of the American Medical Association (AMA), first tried to remove sectarian and irregular practitioners by segregating them from the medical profession altogether. It did so by formulating and publishing its first national medical code of ethics in 1847. (In 1846 the orthodox profession formed the AMA to represent their professional views.) The code condemned proprietary patents (even carrying over into a physician’s development of surgical or other medical implements, which led to its greatest criticism); encouraged the adoption of uniform rules for payment in geographic areas; condemned the practice of contract work; prohibited advertising and fee-sharing even among specialists and general practitioners; eliminated blacks and women; and, most significantly, prohibited any consultation or contact with irregulars or sectarian practitioners. The code stated the following6:

In the late 1870s and into the 1880s, the major sects—the orthodox or allopathic school, the homeopaths, and the eclectics—began to find more reason to cooperate to obtain common professional goals. These included the enactment of new licensing laws and the creation of a “respectable” medical educational system. Also at this time, the concept of “scientific medicine” was brought to America. (Although Starr differed from Rothstein regarding the causes of the decline of the homeopathic and eclectic sectarian schools, he noted that Rothstein clearly documented the nineteenth century transition of medicine into a recognized professional class composed of both the minority sects and the orthodox school.)

This transition from conflict between the major sects resulted in the erosion of the implementation of the code of ethics, the cooperation among the sects to revive medical licensing standards, the admission of sectarian physicians to regular medical societies, and, ultimately, a structural reorganization of the AMA, which occurred between 1875 and 1903.1,5

Once the cooperation among the three medical views began, the medical class dominated by the regular school came fully into power. The homeopathic and eclectic schools of thought met their demise finally due to two significant events: (1) the rapid creation of new medical educational standards between 1900 and 1910, culminating in the publication of the famous “Flexner Report” (1910), and (2) the effective infusion of millions of dollars into selected allopathic medical schools by the newly created capitalistic philanthropic foundations, principally the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations.

The Foundations

The impact of the monies from the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations was clearly documented7 and described in detail in Brown’s Rockefeller Medicine Men.8 The impact of the monies from these foundations, contributed to medical schools that met the AMA’s views on medical education and philosophy, cannot be underestimated.

This process has been well documented.1,7,9,10 As discussed by Burrows,10 these educational reforms allowed the AMA to forge a new alliance with state legislators and push quickly for medical licensing designed to reward the educational and medical expertise of the newly orthodox “scientific medicine” and to the exclusion of all others.

Flexner Report

Subsequent to the AMA ratings, the Council on Medical Education applied to the Carnegie Foundation to commission an independent report to verify its work. Abraham Flexner, a young, energetic, and noted educator, was chosen for this task by the Carnegie Foundation and accompanied by the secretary (Nathan Colwell, MD) of the Council on Medical Education, who participated in all of the committee site visits.

Flexner visited each of the 162 operating U.S. medical schools. The widely publicized Flexner Report put the nails in the coffins of all schools with class “C” ratings and many with class “B” ratings. Significantly, the educational programs of all but one eclectic school (in Cincinnati) and one homeopathic school (in Philadelphia) were eliminated by 1918.

The eclectic medical schools, in particular, were severely affected by the report. Griggs explained this effect as follows2:

The other regular schools that conducted homeopathic or eclectic programs had by that time phased them out in the name of “scientific medicine” (see also Haller3).

The New “Sects”

The period from 1890 to 1905 saw the rise of three new medical sects and several other smaller “irregular” schools that replaced those soon to pass from the scene. In Missouri, Andrew Taylor Still, originally trained as an orthodox practitioner, founded the school of medical thought known as “osteopathy” and in 1892 opened the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri. In 1895, Daniel David Palmer, originally a magnetic healer from Davenport, Iowa, performed the first spinal manipulation, which gave rise to the school he termed “chiropractic.” He formally published his findings in 1910, after having founded a chiropractic school in Davenport, Iowa. In 1902, Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York.

Although some of the following discussions are devoted to the schools of healing called osteopathy and chiropractic, only that portion of their histories related to the history of naturopathy is mentioned.12 (A full study of osteopathic medicine in America may be found in The D.O.’s by Gevitz,13 and a reasonable sketch of chiropractic medicine may be found in Kapling’s chapter in Alternative Medicine.12)

As noted by Starr,1 these new sects, including Christian Science, formulated by Mary Baker Eddy,14 either rose or fell on their own without ever completely allying with orthodox medicine. Starr theorized that these sects arose late enough that the orthodox profession and its political action arm, the AMA, had no need to ally with them and would rather battle with them publicly. This made these sectarian views separate and distinct from the homeopathic and eclectic schools.

image The Founding of Naturopathic Medicine

Benedict Lust

Lust came to the United States in 1892 at the age of 23. He suffered from a debilitating condition in his late teens while growing up in Michelbach, Baden, Germany, and was sent by his father to undergo the Kneipp cure at Woerishofen. He stayed there from mid-1890 to early 1892; not only was he “cured” of his condition, but he also became a protégé of Kneipp. Dispatched by Kneipp to bring the principles of the Kneipp water cure to America, he emigrated to New York City.

By making contact in New York with other German Americans who were also becoming aware of the Kneipp principles, Lust participated in the founding of the first “Kneipp Society,” which was organized in Jersey City, New Jersey, in October 1896.

Lust also attended the first organizational meeting (in mid-October 1896) of the Kneipp Society of Brooklyn. Subsequently, through Lust’s organization and contacts, Kneipp Societies were founded in Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Denver; Cincinnati; Philadelphia; Columbus; Buffalo and Rochester, New York; New Haven, Connecticut; San Francisco; New Mexico; and Mineola on Long Island, New York.

The members of these organizations were provided with copies of the Kneipp Blatter and a companion English publication Lust began to put out called The Kneipp Water Cure Monthly.

The first “sanatorium” using Kneipp’s principles was organized in this country shortly before Lust’s arrival. Charles Lauterwasser, an earlier student of Kneipp’s who called himself a hydrothic physician and natural scientist, opened the Kneipp and Nature Cure Sanatorium in Newark, New Jersey, in 1891.

In 1895, the Brooklyn Light and Water-Cure Institute was established in Brooklyn, New York, by L. Staden and his wife Carola, both graduates of Lindlahr’s Hygienic College in Dresden, Germany. According to their advertising, they specialized in natural healing, Kneipp water treatment, and Kuhne’s and Preissnitz’s principles (including diet cure, electric light baths [both white and blue], electric vibration massage, Swedish massage and movements, and Thure-brandt massage).

In 1895, Lust opened the Kneipp Water-Cure Institute in New York City, listing himself as the owner and Dr. William Steffens as the residing physician. At the same address (on 59th Street) in October of that year, Lust opened the first “Kneipp store.” In the originating November 1896 edition of The Kneipp Water Cure Monthly and Kneipp Blatter, he advertised his store and sanitarium as personally authorized by Kneipp. In the first part of 1896, just before his organizing of various Kneipp Societies around the New York area, Lust returned to Woerishofen to study further with Kneipp.

Kneipp died in Germany, at Woerishofen, in June 1897. With his passing, Lust was no longer bound strictly to the principles of the Kneipp water cure. He had begun to associate earlier with other German-American physicians, principally Dr. Hugo R. Wendel (a German-trained Naturarzt), who began, in 1897, to practice in New York and New Jersey as a licensed osteopathic physician. In 1896, Lust entered the Universal Osteopathic College of New York, graduated in 1898, and became licensed as an osteopathic physician. In 1897, Lust became an American citizen.

Once he was licensed to practice as a health care physician in his own right, Lust began the transition toward the concept of “naturopathy.” Between 1898 and 1902, when he adopted the term “naturopath,” Lust acquired a chiropractic education and changed the name of his Kneipp store to Health Food Store (the original facility to use that name and concept in this country), specializing in providing organic foods and the materials necessary for drugless cures. He also began the New York School of Massage (listed as established in 1896) and the American School of Chiropractic, all within the same facility—Lust’s Kneipp Institute.

Photographs of this facility taken between 1902 and 1907, when the facility moved to another location, show a five-story building listing “Benedict Lust—Naturopath, Publisher, Importer.”

He returned to Germany in 1907 to visit with Dr. Baumgarten, Kneipp’s medical successor at the Woerishofen facility, which was then run, in cooperation with Baumgarten, by the Reverend Prior Reily, the former secretary to Kneipp and his lay successor at Woerishofen. As directed by Kneipp, Reily had completed, after Kneipp’s death, Kneipp’s master work Das grosse Kneipp—Buch. Lust maintained contact with the partnership of Reily and Baumgarten throughout the early part of the twentieth century.

In 1902, when he purchased and began using the term naturopathy and calling himself a “naturopath,” Lust, in addition to his New York School of Massage and American School of Chiropractic, his various publications, and his operation of the Health Food Store, began to operate the American School of Naturopathy, all at the same 59th Street New York address.

By 1907, Lust’s enterprises had grown sufficiently large that he moved them to a 55-room building. It housed the Naturopathic Institute, Clinic and Hospital; the American Schools of Naturopathy and Chiropractic; the now entitled Original Health Food Store; Lust’s publishing enterprises; and New York School of Massage. The operation remained in this four-story building, roughly twice the size of the original facility, from 1907 to 1915.

From 1912 to 1914, Lust took a “sabbatical” from his operations to further his medical education. By this time he had founded his large estate-like sanitarium in Butler, New Jersey, known as “Yungborn” after the German sanitarium operation of Adolph Just.

In 1912 he attended the Homeopathic Medical College in New York, which, in 1913, granted him a degree in homeopathic medicine and, in 1914, he received his degree in eclectic medicine. In early 1914, Lust traveled to Florida and obtained an MD’s license on the basis of his graduation from the Homeopathic Medical College and the Eclectic Medical College of New York City.

He founded another “Yungborn” sanitarium facility in Tangerine, Florida, and for the rest of his life, while continuing his publications, he engaged in active public lecturing. He also continued to maintain a practice in New York City and operated the sanitariums in Florida and New Jersey. His schools were operated primarily by Hugo R. Wendel.

From 1902, when he began to use the term naturopathy, until 1918, Lust replaced the Kneipp Societies with the Naturopathic Society of America. Then, in December 1919, the Naturopathic Society of America was formally dissolved due to its insolvency and Lust founded the American Naturopathic Association (ANA). Thereafter, 18 states incorporated the association.

In 1918, as part of his effort to replace the Naturopathic Society of America (an operation into which he invested a great deal of his funds and resources in an attempt to organize a naturopathic profession) and replace it with the ANA, Lust published the first Universal Naturopathic Directory and Buyer’s Guide (a “yearbook of drugless therapy”).

Although a completely new version was never actually published, despite Lust’s announced intention to make this volume an annual publication, annual supplements were published in either The Naturopath and Herald of Health or its companion publication Nature’s Path (which commenced publication in 1925). The Naturopath and Herald of Health, sometimes printed with the two phrases reversed, was published from 1902 to 1927, and from 1934 until after Lust’s death in 1945.

This volume documented the merging of the German and American influences that influenced Lust in his development of the practice of naturopathy. The voluminous tome, which ran to 1416 pages, was dedicated to:

Lust’s introduction is reprinted here in its entirety to show the purpose of the directory and the status of the profession in the early 1900s:


To the Naturopathic Profession, the Professors of Natural Healing in all its branches, the Professors of Scientific Diet, Hydrotherapy, Heliotherapy, Electrotherapy, Neuropathy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Naprapathy, Magnetopathy, Phytotherapy, Exercise, Swedish Movements, Curative Gymnastics, Physical and Mental Culture, Balneopathy, and all forms of Drugless Healing, the Faculties of all Drugless Colleges, Institutions, Schools, and all Professors of Hygiene and Sanitation; Manufacturers of Naturopathic Supplies; Publishers of Health Literature, and Natural Healing Societies, GREETINGS:

I have the honor to present to your consideration and goodwill, this Volume, No. 1, Year 1918-1919, of the Universal Naturopathic Directory, Year Book of Drugless Healing, and Buyers’ Guide.

For twenty-two years past, the need of a directory for Drugless Therapy has been felt. The medical world is in a condition of intense evolution at the present time. It is evolving from the Drugging School of Therapy to the Drugless School. People by the million have lost confidence in the virtues of Allopathy and are turning with joyful confidence to the Professions of Natural Healing until it has been estimated that there are at least forty thousand practitioners of Naturopathic healing in the United States.

The motto that IN UNITY THERE IS STRENGTH is the foundation of the present enterprise.

Hitherto, the drugless profession has lacked that prestige in the eyes of the public, which comes from the continuous existence of a big institution, duly organized and wielding the immense authority which is derived no less from organization and history than from the virtues of the principles that are held and practiced by such institutions. The public at large instantaneously respects an institution that is thoroughly organized and has its root earthed in history.

The time has fully arrived when the drugless profession should no longer exist in the form of isolated units, not knowing one another and caring but little for such knowledge. Our profession has been, as it were, as sheep without a shepherd, but the various individuals that constitute this movement so pregnant with benefits to humanity, are now collected for the first time into a Directory and Year-Book of Drugless Healing, which alone will give immense weight and dignity to the standing of the individuals mentioned therein.

Not only will the book add to the prestige of the practitioner in the eyes of his patients, but when the scattered members of our profession in every State desire to obtain legislative action on behalf of their profession and themselves, the appeal of such a work as our directory will, in the eyes of legislators, gain for them a much more respectful hearing than could otherwise be obtained.

Now, for the first time, the drugless practitioner finds himself one of a vast army of professional men and women who are employing the most healthful forces of nature to rejuvenate and regenerate the world. But the book itself throws a powerful light upon every phase of drugless healing and annihilates time and distance in investigating WHO IS WHO in the realm of Drugless Therapy.

A most sincere effort has been made to obtain the name and address of every adherent of the Rational School of Medicine who practices his profession within the United States, Canada and the British Isles. It is impossible at this stage of Naturopathic history, which is still largely in the making, to obtain the name and address of every such practitioner. There were some who, even when appealed to, refused to respond to our invitation, not understanding the object of our work. Many of even the most intelligent members have refused to advertise their professional cards in our pages. But we can only attribute these drawbacks to the fact that every new institution that has suddenly dawned upon human intelligence will find that a certain proportion of people who do not understand the nature of the enterprise because the brain cells that would appreciate the benefits that are sought to be conferred upon them, are undeveloped, but a goodly proportion of our Naturopaths have gladly responded to the invitation to advertise their specialty in our columns. These, of course, constitute the brightest and most successful of our practitioners and their examples in this respect should be followed by every practitioner whose card does not appear in this book.

We take it for granted that every one of the forty thousand practitioners of Naturopathy is in favor of the enterprise represented by this Directory. This work is a tool of his trade and not to possess this book is a serious handicap in the race for success.

Here will be found an Index of by far the larger number of Naturopaths in the country arranged in Alphabetic, Geographic and Naturopathic sections. Besides this, there is a classified Buyers’ Guide that gives immediate information regarding where you can find special supplies, or a certain apparatus, or a certain book or magazine, its name, and where it is published. The list of Institutions with the curriculum of each will be found exceedingly useful.

Natural healing, that has drifted so long, and, by reason of a lack of organization, has been made for so many years the football of official medicine, to be kicked by any one who thought fit to do so, has now arrived at such a pitch of power that it has shaken the old system of bureaucratic medicine to its foundations. The professors of the irrational theories of life, health and disease, that are looking for victims to be inoculated with dangerous drugs and animalized vaccines and serums, have begun to fear the growth of this young giant of medical healing that demands medical freedom, social justice and equal rights for the new healing system that exists alone for the betterment and uplifting of humanity.

I want every Professor of Drugless Therapy to become my friend and co-worker in the great cause to which we are committed, and those whose names are not recorded in this book should send them to me without delay. It will be of far greater interest and value to themselves to have their professional card included amongst those who advertise with us than the few dollars that such advertisement costs.

It will be noted that there are quite a number of Drugless Healers belonging to foreign countries (particularly those of the Western Hemisphere) represented in this Directory. The profession of medicine is not confined to any race, country, clime or religion. It is a universal profession and demands universal recognition. It will be a great honor to the Directory, as well as to the Naturopathic profession at large to have every Naturopathic practitioner, from the Arctic Circle to the furthest limits of Patagonia, represented in the pages of this immense and most helpful work.

I expect that the Directory for the year 1920 will be larger and even more important than the present Directory and that it will contain the names of thousands of practitioners that are not included in the present work.

The publication of this Directory will aid in abolishing whatever evils of sectarianism, narrow-mindedness and lack of loyalty to the cause to which we are devoted, that may exist. That it will promote a fraternal spirit among all exponents of natural healing, and create an increase of their prestige and power to resist the encroachments of official medicine on their constitutional rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, by favorably influencing Legislators, Law courts, City Councils and Boards of Health everywhere, is the sincere belief of the editor and publisher.

Having introduced the volume, Lust leads off with his article entitled “The principles, aim and program of the nature cure system.”

Again, this relatively brief article is reproduced here in its entirety, so that one can see the merging of influences:

The principles, aim and program of the nature cure system

Since the earliest ages, Medical Science has been of all sciences the most unscientific. Its professors, with few exceptions, have sought to cure disease by the magic of pills and potions and poisons that attacked the ailment with the idea of suppressing the symptoms instead of attacking the real cause of the ailment.

Medical science has always believed in the superstition that the use of chemical substances which are harmful and destructive to human life will prove an efficient substitute for the violation of laws, and in this way encourages the belief that a man may go the limit in self indulgences that weaken and destroy his physical system, and then hope to be absolved from his physical ailments by swallowing a few pills, or submitting to an injection of a serum or vaccine, that are supposed to act as vicarious redeemers of the physical organism and counteract life-long practices that are poisonous and wholly destructive to the patient’s well-being.

From the earliest ages to the present time, the priests of medicine have discovered that it is ten times easier to obtain ten dollars from a man by acting upon his superstition, than it is to extract one dollar from him, by appealing to reason and common sense. Having this key to a gold mine within their grasp, we find official medicine indulging at all times in the most blatant, outrageous, freakish and unscientific methods of curing disease, because the methods were in harmony with the medical prestige of the physician.

Away back in pre-historic times, disease was regarded as a demon to be exorcized from its victim, and the medicine man of his tribe belabored the body of his patient with a bag in which rattled bones and feathers, and no doubt in extreme cases the tremendous faith in this process of cure that was engendered in the mind of the patient really cured some ailments for which mental science and not the bag of bones and feathers should be given credit.

Coming down to the middle ages, the Witches’ Broth—one ingredient of which was the blood of a child murderer drawn in the dark of the moon—was sworn to, by official medicine, as a remedy for every disease.

In a later period, the “docteur a la mode,” between his taking pinches of snuff from a gold snuff box, would order the patient bled as a remedy for what he denominated spirits, vapors, megrims, or miasms.

Following this pseudo-scientific diagnosis and method of cure, came the drugging phase in which symptoms of disease were unmercifully attacked by all kinds of drugs, alkalis, acids and poisons which were supposed, that by suffocating the symptoms of disease, by smothering their destructive energy, to thus enhance the vitality of the individual. All these cures have had their inception, their period of extensive application, and their certain desuetude. The contemporary fashion of healing disease is that of serums, inoculations and vaccines, which, instead of being an improvement on the fake medicines of former ages are of no value in the cure of disease, but on the contrary introduce lesions into the human body of the most distressing and deadly import.

The policy of expediency is at the basis of medical drug healing. It is along the lines of self-indulgence, indifference, ignorance and lack of self-control that drug medicine lives, moves and has its being. The sleeping swineries of mankind are wholly exploited by a system of medical treatment, founded on poisonous and revolting products, whose chemical composition and whose mode of attacking disease, are equally unknown to their originators, and this is called “Scientific medicine.”

Like the alchemist of old who circulated the false belief that he could transmute the baser metals into gold, in like manner the vivisector claims that he can coin the agony of animals into cures for human disease. He insists on cursing animals that he may bless mankind with such curses.

To understand how revolting these products are, let us just refer to the vaccine matter which is supposed to be an efficient preventive of smallpox. Who would be fool enough to swallow the putrid pus and corruption scraped from the foulest sores of smallpox that has been implanted in the body of a calf? Even if any one would be fool enough to drink so atrocious a substance, its danger might be neutralized by the digestive juices of the intestinal tract. But it is a far greater danger to the organism when inoculated into the blood and tissues direct, where no digestive substances can possibly neutralize its poison.

The natural system for curing disease is based on a return to nature in regulating the diet, breathing, exercising, bathing and the employment of various forces to eliminate the poisonous products in the system, and so raise the vitality of the patient to a proper standard of health.

Official medicine has in all ages simply attacked the symptoms of disease without paying any attention to the causes thereof, but natural healing is concerned far more with removing the causes of disease, than merely curing its symptoms. This is the glory of this new school of medicine that it cures by removing the causes of the ailment, and is the only rational method of practicing medicine. It begins its cures by avoiding the uses of drugs and hence is styled the system of drugless healing. It came first into vogue in Germany and its most famous exponents in that country were Priessnitz, Schroth, Kuhne, Kneipp, Rickli, Lahmann, Just, Ehret, Engelhardt, and others.

In Sweden, Ling and others developed various systems of mechano-therapy and curative gymnastics.

In America, Palmer invented Chiropractic; McCormick, Ophthalmology. Still originated Osteopathy; Weltmer, suggestive Therapeutics. Lindlahr combined the essentials of various natural methods, while Kellogg, Tilden, Schultz, Trall, Lust, Lahn, Arnold, Struch, Havard, Davis, Jackson, Walters, Deininger, Tyrell, Collins and others, have each of them spent a lifetime in studying and putting into practice the best ideas of drugless healing and have greatly enlarged and enriched the new school of medicine.

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Sep 12, 2016 | Posted by in MANUAL THERAPIST | Comments Off on The History of Naturopathic Medicine: The Emergence and Evolution of an American School of Healing

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