“Naturopathy is the mother, all-inclusive, of natural therapy. It is the basic platform for all methods of healing; without it any healing art will be a failure.”
– Dr. Benedict Lust, Founder of Naturopathic Medicine.
In 1896, Dr. Benedict Lust returned from Germany with hydrotherapy training from Dr. Sebastian Kneipp and other prominent European nature doctors of the era to recreate the practice of nature cure in the United States. Beginning with the foundation of hydrotherapy, air and light baths, herbal remedies, and a vegetarian diet, Lust incorporated specific diet and lifestyle instruction, physical medicine, and homeopathy.
He saw that each type of medicine had its strengths and weaknesses and sought to create a comprehensive healthcare system with the ability to successfully treat a variety of illnesses and tailor treatments to an individual’s specific needs. Through Lust’s design, naturopathy was created as “the mother, all-inclusive, of natural therapy,” with a broad spectrum of clinical tools and healing strengths.
As a result, today’s Naturopathic Doctors are trained in a large scope of medicine including lifestyle medicine, nutrition, botanical medicine, physical medicine (similar to chiropractic adjustments), homeopathy, IV nutrient therapy, pharmacology, and minor surgery. Using this eclectic toolbox of therapeutic techniques enables Naturopathic Doctors to offer various levels of therapeutic intervention on a case-by-case basis. Adhering to “the therapeutic order,” Naturopathic Physicians use the least invasive treatment necessary to rebalance the body’s functions.
This means using natural therapies when pharmaceuticals and surgeries can be avoided. Using food as medicine to re-establish a foundation for health. Using gentler natural medicines when stronger natural medicines can be avoided. And building a partnership with patients that empowers through education and honors the important connection between our health, stress, and relationships and our spiritual and emotional worlds.
Naturopathic Doctors are the world’s leading experts in integrative, natural, and functional medicine. We are excellent diagnosticians with specialized skills to prevent disease, reverse illness through root cause resolution, and advance peak performance - giving us a unique skill set to solve our nation’s healthcare crisis and drive medical innovation.
One hundred years ago Benedict Lust saw hydrotherapy as powerful, but incomplete. So he created Naturopathic Medicine as a diverse collection of medical modalities with the ability to treat a variety of illnesses with proper method and force (a skill lacking in today's conventional medicine).
To innovate the future we have to recreate history. We have to do for our nation’s medical system what Benedict Lust did for Naturopathic Medicine. But we have to create a medical model with an even larger scope of practice - from meditation and food as medicine to pharmaceuticals and surgery - that is primarily focused on identifying and resolving the root cause of illness and reserves the use of suppressive therapies and excessive force for emergencies.
Without this basic platform and hierarchy of method and force we have failed and suffered. However, with the emerging voices of Naturopathic Doctors, Functional Medicine Practitioners, and Integrative Medical Doctors redefining the leading edge of medicine, the holistic model of the past is experiencing a renaissance poised to carry us into a healthy future.
For more information on the history of Naturopathic Medicine read Nature Doctors: Pioneers in Naturopathic Medicine. To find a Naturopathic Doctor near you visit your state's Naturopathic Association. To access the conversations today's leading experts in holistic medicine are having visit the Functional Forum and listen to the Evolution of Medicine Podcast.