Naturopathy in the United States was founded over 100 years ago. It was first developed by Benedict Lust, M.D., D.C., N.D. of New York State. While the profession of Naturopathy is only approximately a century old, the principles and philosophy on which it is founded have been employed to treat mankind since ancient times by all cultures of the world. Modalities like diet therapy, hydrotherapy, herbal therapies and lifestyle modifications have been used throughout mankind’s history. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, who lived 2400 years ago, was credited with the concept of Vis Medicatrix Naturae (The Power of Natural Medicine). This concept has long been a cornerstone of medicine in cultures throughout the world. Today, it still remains an essential component of naturopathic philosophy and application.
In the early 1900's, practitioners formed the first naturopathic professional
medical societies, leading to the establishment of the American Naturopathic
Association. By the 1920's, naturopathic medical conventions attracted more than
10,000 practitioners, and colleges of naturopathy abounded. There were more than
twenty naturopathic medical schools formed, many of which were associated with
chiropractic colleges. Naturopathic hospitals and sanitariums were erected
throughout the nation, and NDs were licensed in approximately twenty-eight
states. Most of these states had official Boards of Examiners for the
licensing of Naturopathic Physicians.
Naturopathic Medicine was widely accepted and extremely popular throughout the United States in the first part of the 20th century. From 1900 to 1950, there were many naturopathic medical colleges, thousands of naturopathic physicians, and hundreds of thousands of patients resorting to Naturopathic Medicine as their primary form of healthcare. But by the second half of the 1900s, because of the great popularity and acceptance of Naturopathy, Allopathic Medicine viewed it as a threat. That combined with the advent of “Scientific Medicine,” also known as "Pharmaceutical Medicine," lead to a conspiracy waged by the American Medical Association to demean Naturopathy and eliminate it as a competitor in the healthcare marketplace. This brought about a decline in Naturopathic Medicine, manifested by the elimination of state boards, schools of naturopathy, naturopathic medical students, naturopathic physicians, and ultimately naturopathic medical practice. In many of the jurisdictions where Naturopathy was once legal, legislation was passed outlawing the licensing and/or practice of Naturopathy.
By the 1970's, the American public had begun to embrace the concept of “Prevention” as a viable alternative to "Allopathic Medicine." Because of the inability of conventional medicine to address chronic illnesses and other medical problems, and the sky rocketing costs of healthcare, millions of Americans were ultimately compelled to seek alternative forms of healthcare. As a result, Naturopathy, once again, became a viable alternative to Allopathic Medicine and entered into an era of wider acceptance.