Naturopathy–Home Study

Medical analyst Brian Altonen, MPH, MS posted this on his blog:

THE MODERN HOME STUDY COURSE IN NATUROPATHY. BENEDICT LUST, N.D., D.C., D.O., M.D., Butler and Mount Dora, NJ, and New York, NY. (Advertising Pamphlet)







Spinal Manipulation

Short Wave Radiation

Colonic Therapy

Scientific Fasting & Dietetics


Commentary by Laurence Layne: There are a few overlapping components in the Home Study training course. Does spinal manipulation mean Chiropractic? if referring to Chiropractic, then it would at a minimum have to be 1895 or later when Chiropractic was established. There were very few Chiropractors before 1900. Lust lists DC–doctor of Chiropractic–as one of his credentials. Also in theory, “Naturopathy” as a term was not used by Lust until 1902. The initials ND behind his name would indicate this course was created after 1902. Licensure as an MD–medical doctor–could have meant that he passed a state medical exam; a number of states required doctors of whatever school, including irregulars like Osteopaths or Eclectics to take the same state boards as MDs.

Home study courses were available for other forms of natural healing in that era. Both Chiropractic and Massage were offered as “home study” at different points. There were also “How-To” books on Osteopathy.

The range of therapies are consistent with what Dr. John Kellogg practiced in Battle Creek, Michigan and what many classic Naturopaths practiced in the United States and later in the United Kingdom.

Short Wave Radiation probably refers to diathermy. Electrotherapy could be a number of applications, but would include the Sine Wave (sinusoidal) Machine. Hydropathy is hot and cold water applications–hydrotherapy. Fasting and Dietetics can refer to simple diet regimens like fiber cereals, but also juicing. Massage at that time would have been Swedish Massage. Colonics, or colon water irrigation, included enemas. Osteopathic technique would have included many soft tissue techniques, not just a high velocity thrust like Chiropractic. Virtually all these modalities (with appropriate training) are within the scope of practice of many modern Massage Therapy licenses (especially Florida).

The fact that this course was “home study” indicates that many of the modalities could be studied through books and manuals. However, proper application would require mentoring and class room learning.



Naturopathy–A Tiered Profession

The world is divided into Naturopathic Physicians and Traditional Naturopaths. One is the good, Ahura Mazda, the god of creative order and the other is the evil Ahriman, who seeks to destroy order and goodness with his horde of demons. Where you stand on the issues and whose side you support then defines who is walking in the light and who is with the tide of darkness..

Naturopathy is a “tiered” profession, politically, legislativlly, and philosophically. There are Naturopathic Physicians and Traditional Naturopaths. The “Physicians,” while they receive a lot more medical training, don’t necessarily receive any better training in basic natural healing than the “Traditionals.” In fact, some would argue that Traditional Naturopaths tend to be more natural and vitalistic in their approach. Both schools have maintained that their natural practices are benign, non-invasive, and support the body’s innate forces for healing. It would be hard then, to make the case that such practices “endanger the public.” Yet Naturopathic Physicians have sought to restrict the practice of the Traditional Naturopaths in many states, claiming they are the only ones qualified to practice natural healing.

Fortunately, we are a in relatively sane period of health freedom. Many states have seen through the arguments of the Naturopathic Physicians. California, and Minnesota, for instance have laws in place that allow both classes of Naturopaths to practice. This trend of tiered professions is going to continue. It has already happened in Physical Therapy with the institution of a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Nutrition Dietetics is moving towards a clinical doctorate also and there are Doctor of Nutrition programs already in existence. Chiropractic has essentially the same divide. There is a significant group in that profession who would like to be Chiropractic Physicians (many already use that term). One the other hand, there are traditional Chiropractors who don’t want to mix medical practice with hands-on adjustments. Ironically, it was the Chiropractic schools who kept Naturopathy alive by offering ND degrees into the 1950s. It would probably be the best for their profession (and all of us) if Chiropractic develops formal tiering. What natural healing professionals and consumers need is open practice legislation that supports a variety of philosophical approaches and techniques–as long as the individual practitioner has training and met some kind of qualifying standards.


Naturopathy was a coined word created to describe simple healing practices that assisted the vital force in healing the body. This was around 1900, and generally accredited to Benedict Lust, the “Father of Naturopathy.” The natural healing practices he promoted originated in Europe with water cure in the 19th Century, going back as far as Father Kneipp and Victor Presnitz (1822).

At the turn of the century, the new profession needed to differentiate itself from other natural healing at the time–for example American water cure (hydropaths) and bone setters (osteopaths). Thus the word “naturopaths.” This era could be called the classical period of Naturopathy, and the practices attributed to the discipline back then could be called Classical Naturopathy or Traditional Naturopathy. The components of Classical Naturopathy included:

  • Fasting
  • Water Cure (Hydrotherapy)
  • Diet
  • Sunning (Heliotherapy)
  • Air Baths
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Breathing

(Have you ever heard of the old adage “Fresh Air and Exercise”)

Over time other therapies were added to this list:

  • Electrotherapy
  • Manipulation
  • Herbs
  • Homeopathy
  • Mental Therapeutics
  • Colonics

All kinds of natural healers could be classified as Naturopaths. Dr. John Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan fame, used a number of classic Naturopathic treatments. The name “Kellogg” is primarily associated with breakfast cereal, but these products were originally developed to supply natural fiber to the diet and cleanse the colon. Kellogg’s clinical approach consisted of of a number of natural therapies, but four primary modalities seem to be special interests in his books:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Electrotherapy
  • Diet
  • Massage

Other techniques such as colonics (enemas), remedial exercises, and breathing were used plus classical Naturopathy like heliotherapy.

The important thing to remember is that whatever technique was involved, it was intended to rally the vital forces of the patient’s body. To the degree that this was successful, then healing occurred, with a righting of the metabolism from the visceral to the cellular level. This is the definition of “healing” in the Naturopathic model. There’s a lot more to the practice of Naturopathy, but that is the core essential philosophy, that the life force be restored in its function of running the body in a balanced way–as Nature designed it.

That was the way things used to be. Like many professions these days, Naturopathy has changed. There are two groups of people claim the mantle of being the authentic ND or Naturopathic Doctor. One group is the Naturopathic Physicians. They have introduced medical education into their curriculum and believe that they are on a higher plane because they utilize the medical model and are like “real doctors.” The second group is called Traditional Naturopaths and are less educated in regular medicine, but more closely adheres to the old methods and philosophy. They believe they are more “pure” in their approach to Naturopathy.

After examining their claims and looking at the evidence, I think the Traditional Naturopaths are just as qualified to practice natural healing as their brethren, in fact more likely to use their therapies in the simple, vitalistic way that Naturopathy was originally practiced. No political or philosophical battle is black and white, but I believe that natural healing is essentially benign if used with common sense and most people will benefit. It adheres to the concept of Do No Harm.

Grumbles of the Magister Magici

Reading Poul Anderson’s entertaining fantasy Three Hearts and Three Lions, one is reminded of the similarities of doctors and herbalists with magicians and alchemists. He has his character the sorcerer Martinus Trismegistus grouse:

“And as for herbs, and mummy, and powdered toad, why, they just don’t put the sort of stuff into them they used to. And the prices!”

Regarding the competition, a witch named Mother Gerd:

“I know of her,” he said. “Not a good sort. Not surprising you got into trouble. She traffics with black magic. It’s these unlicensed practitioners who give the whole profession a bad name.”

Some things never change.

PS: It’s those darned unlicensed traditional Naturopaths who give the rest of us a bad name…a danger to the public!

The Evolution of Natural Healing

I was introduced to natural healing, the professional variety, through Chiropractors and a few Naturopaths. There was exposure to the milieu natural through the Post Counter-Cultural Explosion of the 1970s, but most information came through lay people like myself who just shared cool things with other like-minded souls. There were very few people making a living doing massage; there was no acupuncture, no herbalists (a few herbologists were around but none in my area), spiritualists, psychics, Cayce mongers, and natural hygienists–but one was never quite sure what that discipline entailed–nudism? colonic irrigation? people that smelled funny and drank carrot juice? The only professional healers that I knew about had the credentials DC or ND. Now, years later, I realize that I probably have more training than most of the NDs I met back then, and know more about natural healing than all the knowledgeable DCs who turned me on to so many mind-blowing ideas.

Things have changed for sure. There are so many excellent classes, schools, and teachers out there. A number of disciplines have masterful teachers, and accomplished practitioners. The range of practitioners, depending on the discipline, or the area one is in, run the gamut of great to excellent to good to merely competent.The below average or seriously bad weed themselves out. Unlike regular medicine, it's a cash business, and the public supports those who help them get well.

Our culture is changing and natural healing is becoming part of it. The rate of acceptance of wholistic and vitalist models of healing is accelerating. People don't understand it all and they aren't supposed to. They are drawn to what's natural. It is the practitioner's job to educate them in healthy practices. We are now living in a fitness and wellness culture, so much so that even the medical industrial complex is having to adopt some of our natural healing principles and philosophy. If they don't, they will not only lose market share, but the people's faith in their form of medicine altogether.

I have seen this shift happen since the late 1970s. So many people have worked so hard to make this happen. So many have given so much to create a better world of healing. It has been beyond the understanding of the intelligentsia, the big brains, the industrialists, the shapers of opinions, and the government. People are more empowered now. They are students of natural healing. The practitioners, especially the excellent ones, are the teachers of health, what some define as a “true physician,” an educator.

We all started out with a blank page. Isn't that what the educational process is? We were Know-Nothings. Now we are Know-Somethings. I fondly remember many of the things I was turned on to even if I can't remember all the people or names that were involved. I've in turn passed on those things to my patients and the people in my world. It's important to remember the humble beginnings of the Natural Healing Revolution so that we don't forget that a lot of it is the application of basic principles to living. No matter how many degrees or institutions are created to perpetuate professional natural medicine, it started out as a philosophical interpretation of Nature and how to live naturally.


The name “Works and Days”

The title of my general writings here is inspired by Works and Days, a poem/book by the ancient Greek author Hesiod. My activities and life experiences fit under those categories, I think. Hesiod and Homer are the foundation authors of the Greek tradition, which became Western culture, and affected us all whether we like it or not. Hesiod is known for his descriptions of the Greek gods and the creation story in Theogony, which is where we see the appearance of the familiar myths. Homer continued the tradition in the Iliad and Odyssey.

One of the parts of Hesiod’s  Works and Days that is both important to those of us who dabble in philosophy and healing, and is just very cool in general, is the description of the Metal Men.

In times of old…there was a golden age (according to Hesiod and other world traditions). This was the era of the men of gold.They had “happy hearts” and never knew sorrow, or death, and didn’t have to work for a living. They lived in the time of Kronos, who came before Zeus, and the Olympians.

This age gave way to the age of the silver men.This race was long-lived, but also foolish, and did not honor the gods. They couldn’t control themselves, so they too passed from the scene.

The third age was the time of the men of bronze. These men were “strange and full of power,” and loved war–but they destroyed themselves in spite of their invincibility.

Then came the fourth age and the race of heroes and god-like men. They are ones that knew the gods, fought the Trojan war, and did mighty deeds. Despite being up to their necks in death, they were transported to the Blessed Isles, where they lived in the heroes afterlife.

The fifth age is now upon us, and we are the men living in the age of iron. We know what it’s like on the planet earth, and Hesiod says this time of death, grieving, and working without purpose shall come to an end–destroyed by Zeus.

Plato takes up the theme of the Metal Men in his book The Republic 400 years after Hesiod. He too says that there are men of gold, silver, bronze, and other “metals.” He is, of course, talking about he make-up of the soul, or the individual’s character. He is speaking to what we do in this lifetime, not some distant past age.

The alchemists used this symbolism also. Turning lead into gold was not about physical chemistry (but that could be included); it was symbolic of allowing the substance of our inner nature to be transformed into a higher character and expression, that of “gold.”




Why I am writing a “blog”

I am not in the least bit interested in writing a blog. I have a blog on my clinic site because one is supposed to post regularly to promote business. This site is for thoughts that I have and research or writing that I am involved in that do not fit into what I post on my professional pages, educational or book sites. Kind of a Notes to Myself in public–ideas and “thots” that are creative, philosophical, and pertain to my interests in healing, research, the arts, and life in general. These are the things that I think about when driving the car that are insightful but don’t have a home.