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Before 1870, medicine in the United States was completely unregulated. The lack of regulation and the limited effectiveness of 19th century regular medicine encouraged the development of multiple competing medical sects during the century. The three largest medical sects were regulars(traditional physicians), homeopaths, and eclectics. Even though these three sects were the most prominent, numerous other medical systems were created and survived on the margins. Eclecticism, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, and hydrotherapy are just a few of the medical sects born during this era of United States history. At the very end of the 19th Century, a new system called naturopathy was created by Benedict and Louisa Stroebel Lust. Unlike many of the 19th Century medical
systems created, naturopathy has persevered to this day. Naturopathic healing was founded and based on number of influences including botanics, hydrotherapy, eclecticism, temperance and vegetarianism.
John Hopkins University
press has published a new book by Susan E. Cayleff about the history of naturopathic healing entitled <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1421419033/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1421419033&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=cca3095a2c9ae902342f3af1f4cf34c9 Nature's Path: A History of Naturopathic Healing in America]</i>. Her book is a comprehensive account of both the origins of the naturopathy and examination of the controversial views by held naturopathic practitioners such as anti-vivisection, anti-vaccination, and the dangers of processed foods, pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins. Interestingly, women played a role not just in the creation of naturopathy, but were critical to its development and survival into 21st century. Cayleff's book is an intriguing addition to the medical and social history of the United States.
Susan E. Cayleff is a professor in the Department of Women's Studies at San Diego State University. She has written <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0877228590/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0877228590&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=3cbee3aa8f8c42723903f48763ee72ee Wash and Be Healed: the Water Cure Movement and Women's Health]</i>, <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0814323022/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0814323022&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=28b9ca1a27db42504c59af37e0777f32 Wings of Gauze: Women of Color and he Experience of Health and Illness]</i>, <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/025206593X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=025206593X&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=7c6b8831c9c85e86f266dbaced94ac43 Babe: The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharis]</i>, and co-authored with Susan Stamberg - <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/061327718X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=061327718X&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=d15d74cc7ccb1aae639a6f411bfb7fe8 Babe Didrikson: The Greatest All-Sport Athlete of All Time]</i>.
'''Why were you attracted to the topic of naturopathic healing? What spurred your interest?'''
I’ve researched and published on the intersections of women’s lives and the history of alternative healing and medicine for decades. I’ve focused on the 19th century cold water cure movement, patent medicines, self-help regimes, ethnic and racial folk healing ways and the stinging critiques levied against organized medicine by alternative healing sects: homeopathy, botanics, hydropathy, and women’s groups in the modern era. Around 1990, I was contacted by Cathy Rogers, N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor) then President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians who had read my book Wash and Be Healed: The Water Cure Movement and Women’s Health (1987, 1992). Since water cure was a foundational component of naturopathic healing she asked if I’d be interested in researching their movement. This triggered my interest and all these
years later has resulted in Nature’s Path. This text looks at the Naturopathic movement within a social context of culture wars between organized medicine and the naturopaths, the notion of relying on an M.D. as “expert” vs. health choices and self-determination, women’s empowerment and much larger critiques of power and authority that permeate American society, 1890s-present.
'''What is naturopathy and what was its philosophy?'''
'''How does it differ from Eclecticism, Hydrotherapy or Botanics?'''
Naturopathy differed from the 19th medical sects of eclecticism, hydropathy, botanics (
herbal medicinals) and chiropractic in many ways. It is not a single cause/cure premise. Bodily wellbeing cannot be attained through any one healing system like these, most especially not through regular medicine. The best methods must be combined from many practices to create a healthy world and body. Naturopathy does have in common with these named sects an insistence that the individual cannot be a passive recipient of expert-driven health care. Rather, health is predicated on personal responsibility. Naturopathy also relied and still relies heavily on women’s knowledge and expertise as both professional practitioners and domestic healers.
'''Who were the leading figures in naturopathy?'''
The Lusts were the premiere popularizers of the movement. Before and after their marriage in the late 19th century and first decade of the 20th century, they founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York City, a health food bakery, numerous periodical publications, countless therapeutic texts, a hospital and clinic (of sorts) and three away-from-home agrarian health retreats all known as Yungborn (New Jersey, Florida and Cuba).
Advocates and practitioners of naturopathy came from a wide swath of alternative natural healers--this was at once a strength and a weakness for the movement. Benedict Lust welcomed all to claim the title of naturopath at first, but this diluted a stable definition and set of practices from emerging. Regular MDs, whose personal or professional “conversion experiences” inspired them, also joined the movement. Leaders in the anti-vivisection and anti-vaccination movements also embraced naturopathic philosophy and therapeutics.
'''Did women play a large role in both practicing and advocating for naturopathic healing?'''
Women co-created, co-led and benefitted immensely from the Naturopathic Movement. This has been true since its inception through the present day. Louisa Stroebele Lust embodied this most fully: she owned the Bellevue Sanatorium health retreat in New Jersey (1892) that offered natural healing methods; she authored the pivotal cook book The Practical Naturopathic Vegetarian Cook Book (1907), that charted nutritional advice so central to naturopathic living; she taught at the College, and wrote regular columns for the Naturopath and Herald of Health and other publications detailing women’s rights, responsibilities and unique powers to lead the movement—and their families.
Louisa Stroebele, prior to her marriage to Benedict, had served as the personal assistant to Tennessee Claflin on three world tours. Claflin, along with her sister Victoria Woodhull were advocates of Free Love ideology and radical positions on women’s rights that they addressed regularly in their Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly (published intermittently, 1870-1876).
Tennessee’s views on women’s rights, women’s sexual self-determination, ambivalence towards monogamous marriage, and the male sexual double standard that weakened and demoralized women all tremendously impacted her young protégée who had been raised in a conservative Catholic environment. The notorious sister’s financial tutelage at the hands of Cornelius Vanderbilt (who set the sisters up in the first female-owned stockbrokerage company on Wall Street) gave Louisa significant monies and savvy that she then invested in Bellevue, various movement endeavors, and ultimately used to spring from prison the dozens of naturopaths who had been arrested for “practicing medicine without a license.”
Publicly, naturopaths’ writing condemned the sexual double standard of sexual morality, advocated for women’s suffrage, asserted women’s health should be the family’s first priority and counseled men to give women the power to control reproduction.
In addition to Louisa, dozens of women, some trained and licensed naturopaths, others complementary sectarian healers, authored texts, wrote advice columns for female readers, served as faculty, and led the movement as officers in state, national and international organizations. In the present day (since the 1990s) female students constitute more than half of all medical school students; women are also ever-present in strong numbers as faculty, administrators and national, state and local leaders of the profession.
'''By 1905, medical licensing (at least some of form it) had basically been implemented in almost every state. Did this force naturopathic healers to describe themselves as something besides doctors to avoid regulation?'''
[[File:BenedictLust.jpg|thumbnail|250px|Benedict Lust and Louisa Stroebele Lust founded naturopathy]]
One of the central themes of Nature’s Path was the “culture wars” that raged between regular physicians (who became the American Medical Association in 1847) and the numerous alternative healing sects who opposed their methods and political heavy handedness. The centralized power of the AMA meant that they controlled medical licensing, pharmaceuticals, public health authorities, police enforcement and military medicine. The government and major philanthropic foundations, through the AMA’s powerful lobby, deemed only the allopathic (regular/AMA) physicians as credible and skilled. All others, regardless of their credentials and acquired knowledge could be, and were frequently, arrested for “practicing medicine without a license” under the plethora of medical license acts.
This involved constant entrapments authorized by AMA leaders with paid spies who visited practitioners with fake ailments and were “prescribed” salves, teas, massage or hygienic regimens. If this sounds like cloak-and- dagger high drama, it was. One such informant, Frances Benzacry, worked for the New York County Medical Society. She was so infamous that she sold her story to the Ladies Home Journal in 1915. In it she chronicled the various “cases” against naturopaths and other sectarians she brought to court and admitted, with surprising candor, that none of the therapies she witnessed had brought harm to patients. Benedict Lust himself was arrested sixteen times on state and federal charges, despite his M.D., D.O. and, N.D. degrees, and degrees in homeopathy and eclecticism. Always at the ready was Louisa’s commitment to bailing out the accused. Some refused bail as a publicity ploy to rally attention to the unfair persecutions.
So yes, naturopaths, to avoid accusations of using the label doctor, physician, etc., first chose the word “naturopath” to distinguish themselves. But this was insufficient to stop the hounding by the politico-medical establishment.
Many current licensed naturopaths are far more willing to embrace some of the benefits of biomedical medicine. This statement is complicated, perhaps overstated, but signifies an important shift nonetheless. Diminished are the carte blanche rejections of all pharmaceuticals (synthetic versus plant-based treatments) and vaccinations, replaced with a more tempered “weigh the evidence and outcomes” advice. Antibiotics are seen by some as having value, although a single-minded “fighting germs” approach still echoes as an inadequate theory of disease causality.
And professionalization itself can shift the focus from the political to the personal--again, antithetical to early philosophical leanings. Making a profitable living can be in conflict with an ethos of community betterment, which was so much the core of the original creators.
'''What surprised you the most when you were researching this topic?'''
'''How would you recommend using your book in a history class? What type of classes would it be best suited for?'''
Nature’s Path can enhance curriculum in American history, Women’s Studies classes, health and healing and social change classes. The chapters and their detailed subheadings lend themselves to topical and chronological insertion into course syllabi. This is a terrific text for faculty wanting to introduce not only new content knowledge, but for those who want to generate analytic discussion about power relations, gender equity, institutional monopolies, the courage to defy the norm and radical thinkers and practitioners who dare chart their own vision.:
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