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Modern naturopathy history a chiropractic legacy

Dr. Benedict Lust (M.D., D.C., N.D.) a German doctor and chiropractor who emigrated to the U.S. in 1892, was America’s first naturopathic physician. Although ridiculed by the establishment for his ‘revolutionary’ ideas of exercise, vegetarianism and healthy living, Benedict Lust, founded the first health food store as we know it, and crystallized the focus of naturopathy on diet and nutrition as the chief route to health. He also started the country’s health spa, in Butler NJ, and founded the first naturopathic college, the American School of Naturopathy and chiropractic in 1902, in New York.

“Where there is no official recognition and regulation, you will find plotters, the thieves, the charlatans operating on the same basis as the conscientious practitioners… Frankly such conditions cannot be remedied until suitable safeguards are erected by law, or by the profession itself, around the practice of Naturopathy.”

- Benedict Lust, circa 1902, the founding father of naturopathy.

Naturopathic medicine grew through the 1910s and 1920s, but by the 1930s and 1940s, pressure from the pharmaceutical companies, political leaders, the rise of antibiotics, and numerous other factors caused a severe decline: In 1910, when the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published the Flexner Report which criticized many aspects of medical education in various institutions (natural and conventional), it was mostly seen as an attack on low-quality natural medicine education. It caused many such programs to shut down and contributed to the popularity of conventional medicine. Schools were closed, sanatoriums shut down, and doctors had their privileges revoked. However, because chiropractic colleges excided the standards of education forced upon the medical institution by the "Flexner" reform, most of them stayed open and flourished. But Naturopathic medicine, with its herbs, Nature Cure, and holistic view of the body was considered unscientific and based on unproven folk tradition. It therefore was almost lost.

However naturopathic medicine did not go away. It was kept alive by chiropractors in Portland, Oregon where graduates of the Western States Chiropractic College could enrol in a 2-year postgraduate course of study and receive a degree in naturopathy. This lasted until 1956 when the program was dropped. To keep the practice of naturopathy going, several naturopaths and chiropractors founded the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1956 in Portland, Oregon. It moved briefly to Seattle and then returned to Portland where it is today. Very slowly Naturopathic medicine began to rise.


Chiropractic education was introduced in Portland as early as 1904 when Drs. John and Eva Marsh opened Marshes' School and Cure. In 1909, the college changed its name to Pacific College of Chiropractic.
The institution absorbed the Lindlahr College of Naturopathy in 1926 and introduced one of the first four-year courses in the profession in 1928.

Pacific College of Chiropractic entered a new phase in January 1929, when the college was purchased for $20,000 by the former dean of the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, William Alfred Budden, DC, ND (a chiropractor and naturopath). The timing was terrible, for the U.S. stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression were only nine months away. Dr. Budden would struggle for years to keep the school afloat, eventually re-chartering the institution as the non-profit Western States College, including instruction leading to degrees in chiropractic and naturopathy. During his tenure at the reins of the institution (he died "in the saddle" in 1954), the Western States College, School of Chiropractic and School of Naturopathy, would exert a profound influence on the course of the profession, both through Budden's activities within the National Chiropractic Association's Council on Education (today's CCE), and by way of the several exceptional doctors he trained.

In 1932 the Pacific Chiropractic College was reorganized and became Western States College and Drugless Physicians (1932 – 1956). The College also offered a degree in naturopathy from the mid-thirties through the mid-fifties. Now called the Western States Chiropractic College (1956 – present).

Western States College has struggled on through the decades since Budden’s demise. The school eventually divorced itself from naturopathic education, as the NCA had been urging since 1939, but maintained a very broad instructional program. Chiropractic and naturopathy were taught together until about 1955 when the National Chiropractic Association stopped granting accreditation to schools that also taught naturopathy.

In the mid-1950's, when Western States Chiropractic College in Portland decided to discontinue naturopathic training, Dr. Bastyr knew it was time to take action, so he and few colleagues decided to open a school in Seattle. In 1956 National College of Naturopathic Medicine was born and Dr. Bastyr and other practitioners became teachers. Dr. John Bastyr, the naturopathic physician for whom Bastyr University in Seattle is named.

A chiropractor, Dr. John Bartholomew Bastyr, N.D., D.C (1912-1995), is credited with being the Father of Modern Naturopathic Medicine. Because of Bastyr’s influence naturopaths have been at the forefront of the rebirth of homeopathy in this country. He made sure that homeopathy shared equal emphasis with nutrition, hydrotherapy and botanical medicine in naturopathic education. Dr. Bastyr considered manipulation the most important therapy in his practice.

He immediately went on in his studies of choice and received doctorate degrees in naturopathy and chiropractic from Northwest Drugless Institute and Seattle Chiropractic College, respectively. He became licensed to practice naturopathic medicine in 1936.

National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) is the oldest programmatically accredited naturopathic medical school in North America. NCNM had its beginnings in the early 1950's, in response to the termination of the naturopathic program at Western States Chiropractic College. Members of the profession from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia planned the founding of the College and in May 1956, in Portland, Oregon.

Dr Sylvain Desforges, B.Sc., D.C., D.O., N.D. : <a href="https://" target="_blank"></a>
About Author Dr. Sylvain Desforges :

Dr. Sylvain Desforges is the director of Research and development for Momentus Technologies.##lt

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