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History of Naturopathy


Naturopathy is a whole medical system that has its roots in Germany. It was developed further in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, where today it is part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. The word naturopathy comes from Greek and Latin and literally translates as "nature disease."




A central belief in naturopathy is that nature has a healing power (a principal called vis medicatrix naturae). Another belief is that living organisms (including the human body) have the power to maintain (or return to) a state of balance and health, and to heal themselves. Practitioners of naturopathy prefer to use treatment approaches that they consider being the most natural and least invasive, instead of using drugs and more invasive procedures.

Naturopathy was named and popularized in the United States by Benedict Lust, who was born in Germany in the late 1800s. When Lust became seriously ill with what he believed was tuberculosis, a priest and healer in Germany named Sebastian Kneipp treated him. Kneipp's treatment was based on various healing approaches and philosophies that were popular in Europe, including: Hydrotherapy (water treatments) and the "nature cure" movement, which focused on restoring health through a return to nature. This movement advocated therapies such as gentle exercise, herbal medications, wholesome dietary approaches, and exposure to sun and air.



Lust found his health much improved from Kneipp's treatment, and when he immigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, he was dedicated to popularizing it. He gave it the name naturopathy, led the way in developing it as a medical system in the United States, and founded the first naturopathic college and professional association. In naturopathy's early years, other therapies were added to its practice-for example, homeopathy and manipulation (a hands-on therapy).


Naturopathy's popularity reached its peak in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. However, its use began to decline when drugs (such as antibiotics) and other developments in conventional medicine. Medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses moved to the forefront of health care. Naturopathy began to re-emerge in the 1970s, with increased consumer interest in "holistic" health approaches. Today, naturopathy is practiced in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.