Naturopathy and Its Origins

Naturopathy is gaining momentum in the U.S. and other parts of North America due to its natural and drug-free approach. Naturopathy uses techniques like herbal supplements, detoxification methods, cleanses, and dietary recommendations to help get your body in a condition where it can heal and defend itself. Naturopathy’s increase in popularity comes from each individual being treated differently and given a treatment plan to fit their unique needs. With all the attention and interest around naturopathy, you might be wondering where it came and how it got to be the alternative treatment method it is today. Today, Petra’s Massage Therapy & Weightloss Clinic is going to dive into the rich and interesting history of naturopathy health, where it came from, and how it got to be what it is today.



Like almost all other medical fields, the foundations of Naturopathy can be traced back to the ancient Greek “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates. Hippocrates contributed an immense amount of knowledge to the field of medicine. He often employed tactics that are still used today in modern naturopathic treatments. Hippocrates believed that you can use lifestyle modifications, like changing diet and exercise behaviors, in order to help patients to allow their body to better take care of itself. This more natural approach to medicine is believed by many naturopathic practitioners to be the beginning of what later evolved into modern day naturopathy.


Dr. John Scheel, Father Kneipp, and Benedict Lust

Dr. John Scheel was a German doctor and the first person to start using the word naturopathy back in 1885. Dr. Scheel was an advocate for the natural techniques used by Father Kneipp in his health spa. Kneipp was using methods like the “water cure” and other natural forms of treatment instead of traditional medicine of the time.


Shortly after (1901) the naturopathy term was purchased by a man by the name of Benedict Lust. Benedict Lust was healed by Kneipp’s water cure as a child. He then grew up and became an advocate for the water cure and natural medicine in the U.S.


Lust used the term naturopathy to describe those who were healed through natural health practices. At the time, methods that fell under the naturopathy umbrella were:


  • Diet plan treatments
  • Herbal remedies
  • Hydrotherapy treatments (water cure)
  • Psychological counseling
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Exercise plan treatments


Also around the same time that Lust purchased naturopathy, he founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York. The American School of Naturopathy was not only the countries first naturopathic medical school, but the first naturopathic medical school in the world. Because of Lust’s American School of Naturopathy, naturopathy medical schools were being funded all over the country by 1920.


The Explosion of Naturopathy

In 1903 the Supreme Court of North Carolina legally deemed naturopathy a legitimate healing profession distinctly different from traditional medical practices. This was a huge win for naturopathic physicians everywhere who were now able to practice without being delegitimized. Over the next 30 years, more than 20 states would go on to license naturopathic practitioners.


During those 30 years, naturopathy started to become popular with and adopted by many chiropractors. Some institutions even offered both a Doctorate of Naturopathy (ND) and a Doctorate of Chiropractic (DC) degree.


Continuing off the practice of naturopathic chiropractors, Petra’s Massage Therapy & Weightloss Clinic in Oklahoma City, OK, is proud to offer an on-site ND doctor. Schedule a visit today to learn how the marriage of massage therapy and naturopathy can change your life.


Naturopathy Takes A Hit

In the mid-1900s, naturopathy and natural health, in general, experienced a sharp decline. This can be attributed to the rise of “miracle drugs”. Pharmaceuticals experienced a breakthrough with anti-bacterial medicines like penicillin. Suddenly, Americans felt like science progressed to a point where any illness or condition could be treated with drugs. People were much happier to pop a pill once a day and be cured rather than having to work on taking proper care of their body to help it heal itself. Drugs were the quick and easy fix to everyone’s problems — until they weren’t.


Don’t Call It A Comeback …

Within the last 20 years, naturopathy has been undergoing a resurgence. Americans started to distrust big pharmaceutical companies — and for good reason. Some pharmaceutical companies were and still are lucrative businesses that are focused purely on profits. This was evident in the harmful side effects, high costs, and ever-increasing overdose deaths.


As the trust of the American people was broken, they started to turn back to naturopathy and its natural health benefits. More naturopathic universities are opening and more ND degrees are coming into circulation. Naturopathy and other alternative health practices are respected because they are individualized, natural, and inexpensive.


Modern naturopathy and modern medicine need not be bitter enemies, though. In fact, there are institutions that are working to create harmony between traditional medicine and naturopathic practitioners. Both have valuable health services to offer to the public and are stronger together than separate. Insurance companies recognize this, and many are beginning to include alternative treatment like naturopathy in their coverage.


If you're in Oklahoma City, OK, give us a call or stop by to learn more about naturopathy and schedule a consultation!


Naturopathy has come a long way in recent years — and has a long way to go yet! We are proud of the past naturopath has had and are excited to be a part of its bright future.