EARLY 20th-CENTURY MEDICINE
The metamorphosis of orthodox medicine
In many ways, the progressive health era of 1900–1917 not only marked the formative years of naturopathy, but were also its halcyon days. In many jurisdictions, modern licensing laws, crafted during this time, were not yet in effect, so varied views of health care could be openly practiced. By 1920, however, the American world of medicine had undergone a sharp transition, culminating four decades of change.
A look at the structure of early medical care in the United States, even as practiced and dominated by the orthodox school, is instructive, when one notes the changes occurring between 1875 and 1920.
In 1875 the following was generally true of American medical practice:
• The practice, even in urban areas, sent the doctorto the patient; the “house call” was the norm.
• There was little modern licensing regulation.
• Hospitals were charitable institutions where persons too poor to otherwise receive health care were usually sent when ill.
• The AMA, although formed in 1846, and generally representative of the professional goals of the regularor orthodox school of medicine, had scarcely begun to make any political inroads at all.
• Medical schools required little or no college education for entrance, and were largely apprenticeship-based and proprietary in nature, having changed little throughout the century.
• Although some doctors had begun to specialize, to do so was far from the norm. The major recognized specialties were surgery, obstetrics and gynecology.
• There were many different types of doctors and society’s recognition of the profession neither recognized specific expertise nor necessarily rewarded professionals in medical practice well.
• Although the orthodox school made up roughly 80% of the professional medical practitioners, the homeopaths and the eclectics were visible and respected intheir own communities for their abilities and expertise, and much of the public relied on other “irregular” practitioners.
By comparison, in 1920, total metamorphosis of medicine as a profession had occurred:
• By 1920, practices had become office- and clinic-oriented.
• Modern licensing principles had become fully developed, and physicians and surgeons were licensedin all jurisdictions. Most other health care providershad some licensing restrictions placed upon them if they were recognized at all.
• Due largely to the introduction into surgery of the practice of antiseptic techniques and aseptic procedures, and a correspondent decline in operative mortality, institutional care in the hospital became increasingly accepted. Also, clinical pathology and diagnostic laboratory procedures had become well developed, the hospital had become a major training and clinical research facility, and generally more acceptable to the patient.
• The AMA was approaching the peak of its political power, having exercised, through its Council on Medical Education and its Council of Pharmacy and Chemistry, major effects on medical schools and the pharmaceutical industry.
• The transition to research and education-based medical schools, instead of practitioner apprenticeships and proprietary education, had become complete. All recognized medical schools had a 4-year curriculum,with an undergraduate degree or substantial undergraduate study required as a prerequisite. In addition, most schools, in conjunction with most licensing statutes, required a year’s internship.
• Specialization was becoming well developed, and the number of specialty groups had increased considerably. This would continue through the 1930s andinto the early 1940s.
• Professional authority and autonomy had undergone a substantial transition; and the allopathic physician was now recognized as the medical expert.
• By 1922, the last eclectic school was on the vergeof closure, and in the early 1930s the last of the homeopathic schools in the United States was also on the verge of closure. The influence of these sects on orthodox medicine had dwindled to almost nothing. Naturopaths and other alternative health care practitioners had adopted the areas of expertise previously considered the territory of homeopaths and eclectics.
The halcyon years of naturopathy
In 1924, Morris Fishbein succeeded George Simmons as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Fishbein had joined the editorial staff of JAMA under Simmons immediately following his graduation from Chicago’s Rush Medical School in 1913. As Campion points out:
Over the years Fishbein not only established himself as the gifted editor of the most widely read medical journal in the United States; he also learned how to extend his editorial position, how to project his opinions nationwide. He became, as the saying went in those years, a “personality.” TIME referred to him as “the nation’s most ubiquitous, the most widely maligned, and perhaps most influential medico.”
In addition to his development of JAMA as an editorial and personal voice, Fishbein also continually railed against “quackery”. Lust, among others, including MacFadden, became Fishbein’s epitome of quackery. When MacFadden became a wealthy man, after his publishing company included popular magazines like True Confessions and True Detective, he began campaigning for the 1936 Republican presidential nomination. In response, a physician submitted, under the initials “K.G.”, a tongue-in-cheek listing of the cabinet that would exist under MacFadden, including the newly created “Secretary of Aviation” for Benedict Lust. Lust was a popular figure by this time who conducted such a busy lecture schedule and practice, alternating between the “Yungborns” in Butler, New Jersey, and Tangerine, Florida, that he had become almost as well known as an airline traveler. Lust devoted a complete editorial in Nature’s Path to a response.
If Fishbein had JAMA as a personal editorial outlet, Lust had his own publications. Commencing with the Naturopath and Herald of Health in 1902 (which changed its name to Herald of Health and Naturopath in 1918), Lust continually published this and other monthly journals. In 1919, it became the official journal of the American Naturopathic Association, mailed to all members. Each edition contained the editorial column “Dr Lust speaking”.
In the early 1920s, the “health fad” movement was reaching its peak in terms of public awareness and interest. As described, somewhat wistfully, in his June 1937 column, Lust announced the approach of the 41st Congress of Natural Healing under his guidance:
The progress of our movement could be observed in our wonderful congresses, in 1914 Butler, N.J., 1915 Atlantic City, 1916 in Chicago, 1917 Cleveland, 1918 New York, 1919 Philadelphia, 1920 and 1921 again New York, and 1922 in Washington, D.C., where we had the full support and backing of the Congress of the United States. President Harding received the president and the delegates of our convention and we were the guests of the City of Washington. Through the strenuous efforts of Dr. T.M. Schippel, Hon. Congresswoman Catherine Langley of Kentucky, and eight years of hard work financed and sustained by Dr. Schippel and her powerful friends in Congress, Naturopathy was fully legalized as a healing art in the District of Columbia and the definition was placed on record and the law affirmed and amended by another act which has been fully published over and over again in the official journal of the A.N.A., Naturopath.
In 1923 in Chicago, with the help and financing of the great and never-to-be forgotten Dr. Henry Lindlahr, we had a great convention. Not only were all the Naturopaths there but even to an extent our congress was recognized and acknowledged as official and of great importance by the medical people, particularly by the Health Commissioner of Chicago. We held a banquet, and there were discussions covering all platforms of the healing art. It was the first congress in the United States where medicine and Naturopathy in all its branches such as the general old-time Nature Cure, Hydrotherapy and Diet, Osteopathy, Naprapathy, Chiropractic, Neuropathy and Physiotherapy were represented on the same platform. The speakers represented every modern school of healing and the movement at that time was in the direction of an entirely recognized and independent school of healing. There were two camps, official medicine and official Naturopathy, the medical camp having all that is good and bad in medicine and surgery and all the other schools of healing that had sold their birthright and trusted to the allurement of organized medicine, such as Homeopaths, Eclectics, Physio-medics, and the Osteopaths to a large extent. The Osteopaths were always in the wrong camp when they went on mixed boards and Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, the father of Osteopathy, told me in 1915 that by compromising with medicine Osteopathy is doomed as the school that could have incorporated all of the natural and biological healing arts.
The year following we had the great congress in Los Angeles which has never been duplicated. We had to meet in two hotels because the crowds ran over 10,000. The glorious banquet will never be forgotten and the congress celebrated and demonstrated that the initial and first intent of the A.N.A. to teach the public Natural Living and Nature Cure was realized. We will never forget the glorious week in Los Angeles where the authorities and the whole city joined us. The success of that congress was largely due to the talent of Dr. Fred Hirsch, the successor to Prof. Arnold Ehret and the noble and generous Naturopaths of the A.N.A. of Cal. There was never a second congress like that.
Then we had the great congresses of New York in 1925, Indianapolis 1926, Philadelphia 1927, Minneapolis 1928, Portland, Oregon 1929, New York 1930, Milwaukee 1931, Washington, D.C., 1932, Chicago 1933, Denver 1934, San Diego 1935, and Omaha 1936.
In 1925, Lust began to try to reach more of the general populace through the lay publication Nature’s Path. The Naturopath and Nature’s Path were later merged because the self-supporting advertising and subscription monies were more available by publication to the general populace than to the members of the association (The Naturopath, 1902–1927; Nature’s Path, 1925–1927; merged 1927–1933; separated 1934–1938; Nature’s Path, 1939–?).
In January of 1934, Lust commenced republication under the title Naturopath and Herald of Health in addition to Nature’s Path. Each of the volumes opened with his column, which was different for each publication. Both publications were issued continuing through 1938, when the Nature’s Path again became the sole publication until Lust’s death in 1945.
Although, after the Universal Directory, Lust continued to write volumes on naturopathic principles, he was more of a synthesizer, organizer, lecturer, and essayist than a lasting scientific author of naturopathic articles.
His most enduring contributions remain his early translations of Kuhne’s and Just’s works.
During the 1920s and up until 1937, Lust’s brand of “quackery”, as labeled by Fishbein, was in its most popular phase. Although the institutional markings of the orthodox school had gained ascendancy, prior to 1937 it had no real solutions to the problems of human disease.
Instructive in this regard is Louis Thomas’ interesting work The Youngest Science. Thomas compares his education and internship as a physician to his father’s life as a physician. His father believed that bedside manner was more important than any actual medication offered by the physician. Indeed, his father went into general surgery so that he could offer some service to his patients that actually made some change in their condition. Thomas points out that the major growth of “scientific medicine” up until 1937 advanced diagnosis rather than offering any hope of cure.
During this period of time, Lust’s naturopathic medicine, and both chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, continued to be on the outside looking in. Practitioners of all three groups were continually prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license, although they often won their cases by establishing before juries that their practices were, even according to the testimony of medical men, not the same at all. Additionally, because the orthodox practitioners could offer little or no actual hope of cure for many diseases, the “health food and natural health” movement was generally popular.
During the 1920s, Gaylord Hauser, later to become the health food guru of the Hollywood set, came to Lust as a seriously ill young man. Lust, through application of the nature cure, removed Hauser’s afflictions and was rewarded by Hauser’s lifelong devotion. His regular columns in Nature’s Path became widely read among the Hollywood set.
As noted in Other Healers, Other Cures
The last big name in Naturopathy was Gaylord Hauser, a Viennese-Born food scientist (as one of his early books identified him) turned to Naturopathy in his later years. He is best remembered for advising the eating of living foods, not dead foods, and for escorting Greta Garbo around. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Hauser’s “Wonder Foods” were skinned milk, brewers yeast, wheat germ, yogurt, and black strap molasses.
In 1937, however, all this began to change. The change came, as both Thomas and Campion note in their works, with the era of “miracle medicine”. Lust recognized this and his editorializing became, if anything, even more strident. From the introduction of sulfa drugs in 1937 to the Salk vaccine’s release in 1955, the American public became used to annual developments of miracle vaccines and antibiotics.
Benedict Lust died in September of 1945 in residence at the Yungborn facility in Butler, New Jersey, preparing to attend the 49th Annual Congress of his American Naturopathic Association. On 30 August 1945, for the official program of that congress which was held in October 1945 just after his death, he dictated the following remarks:
What is the present condition of Naturopathy? What is its future? I can give my opinion in a very few words. For fifty years I have been in the thick of the fight to bring to the American people the Nature Cure. During that period I have had an opportunity to judge what Naturopathy has done, and can accomplish and the type of men and women, past and present, who make up the Naturopathic ranks.
Let us take the present situation first. What is Naturopathy accomplishing? The answer to that is: “Everything.” Naturopathy holds the key for the prevention, alleviation and cure of every ailment, to man and beast alike. It has never failed in the hands of a competent Naturopath. Whatever the body can “catch” – that same body, with proper handling, can eliminate. And that takes in cancer, tumors, arthritis, cataract and the whole gamut of “incurable medical” disease and ailments. During my years of practice I, personally, have seen every type of human ailment and so-called serious “disease” give way to the simple, proven Naturopathic methods. I make no exception to that statement.
Now let us see the type of men and women who are the Naturopaths of today. Many of them are fine, upstanding individuals, believing fully in the effectiveness of their chosen profession – willing to give their all for the sake of alleviating human suffering and ready to fight for their rights to the last ditch. More power to them! But there are others who claim to be Naturopaths who are woeful misfits. Yes, and there are outright fakers and cheats masking as Naturopaths. That is the fate of any science – any profession – which the unjust laws have placed beyond the pale. Where there is no official recognition and regulation, you will find the plotters, the thieves, the charlatans operating on the same basis as the conscientious practitioners. And these riff-raff opportunists bring the whole art into disrepute. Frankly such conditions cannot be remedied until suitable safeguards are erected by law, or by the profession itself, around the practice of Naturopathy. That will come in time.
Now let us look at the future. What do we see? The gradual recognition of this true healing art – not only because of the efforts of the present conscientious practitioners but because of the bungling, asinine mistakes of orthodox medicine – Naturopathy’s greatest enemy. The fiasco of the sulpha drugs as emphasized disastrously in our armed forces is just one straw in the wind. The murderous Schick test – that deadly “prevention” of diphtheria – is another. All these medical crimes are steadily piling up. They are slowly, but inevitably, creating a public distrust in all things medical. This increasing lack of confidence in the infallibility of Modern Medicine will eventually make itself felt to such an extent that the man on the street will turn upon these self-constituted oppressors and not only demand but force a change. I may not be here to witness this revolution but I believe with all my soul that it is coming. Yes, the future of Naturopathy is indeed bright. It merely requires that each and every true Naturopath carry on – carry on – to the best of his and her abilities. May God bless you all.
The naturopathic journals of the 1920s and 1930s are instructive. Much of the dietary advice focused on poor eating habits, including the lack of fiber in the diet and an overreliance upon red meat as a protein source. Over half a century later in the 1980s, the pronouncements of the orthodox profession, the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute finally became aware of the validity of the early assertions of the naturopaths that such dietary habits would lead to degenerative diseases, including cancers associated with the digestive tract and the colon.
The December 1928 volume of Nature’s Path was the first American publication of the works of Herman J. DeWolff, a Dutch epidemiologist who was one of the first individuals to assert, based on studies of the incidence of cancer in the Netherlands, that there was a correlation between exposure to petrochemicals and various types of cancerous conditions. He saw a connection between chemical fertilizers and their usage in some soils (principally clay) that led to their remaining in vegetables after they had arrived at the market and were purchased for consumption. Again, it was 50 years later before orthodox medicine began to see the wisdom of such assertions.
The emerging dominance of AMA medicine
The introduction of “miracle medicine”, the impact of World War II on health care, and the death of Benedict Lust in 1945, all combined to cause the decline of naturopathic medicine and natural healing in the United States. (During the war, the necessity for crisis surgical intervention techniques for battlefront wounds encouraged use of morphine and sulfa drugs, and penicillin for diseases not previously encountered by American citizens. This resulted in rapid development of high-technology approaches to medicine and highly visible successes.)
The effects of these events on osteopathy and chiropractic, however, were completely different. In the early days of osteopathy, there was a significant split between the strict drugless systems advocated by A. T. Still, and the beliefs of many MDs who were converted to osteopathy because of its therapeutic value. The latter group did not want to abandon all of the techniques they had previously learned and all of the drugs they had previously used when those therapy techniques were sometimes effective. Ultimately, most schools of osteopathy, commencing with the school based in Los Angeles, California, converted to more of an imitation of modern orthodox medicine. These developments led to more of an accommodation between the California osteopaths and the members of the California Medical Association. (This developing cooperation between the California Osteopathic and Medical Association was one of the major issues leading to the downfall, in 1949, of Fishbein’s editorial voice in JAMA.) Thus, osteopathy found a place in professional medicine, at the cost of its drugless healing roots and therapies.
The effect on chiropractic of the post-war years was somewhat different. Because of educational recognition under the G.I. Bill, the number of chiropractors in the country grew substantially, and their impact on the populace grew accordingly. The sect eventually grew powerful enough in terms of numbers and economic clout that it could pose a legal challenge to the orthodox monopoly of the AMA. However, in the immediate post-war years, the American Medical Association gained tremendous political clout. Combined with the American Legion and the National Board of Realtors, these three groups posed a powerful political triumvirate before the United States Congress.
These years, called the years of the “great fear” in Caute’s book by that name, were the years during which to be unorthodox was to be “un-American”.
Across the country, courts began to take the view that naturopaths were not truly doctors, as they espoused doctrines from “the dark ages of medicine” (something American medicine had apparently come out of in 1937) and that drugless healers were intended by law to operate without “drugs” (which became defined as anything a person would ingest or apply externally for any remedial medical purpose). In this regard, the Washington State Supreme Court case of Kelly vs. Carroll (the defendant being Otis G. Carroll of Spokane, Washington, a long-time follower, with his brother Robert V. Carrol, Sr, of Lust), and the Arizona State Supreme Court case of Kuts-Cheraux vs. Wilson document how significant limitations were placed on naturopaths under the guise of calling them “drugless healers”.
In the state of Tennessee, as a reaction to the 1939 publication of the book Back to Eden by herbalist Jethro Kloss, court action initiated by the Tennessee State Medical Association led first to the publishers being forbidden to advertise the book for any therapeutic purpose. They were allowed only to acknowledge that it was in stock. The Tennessee State Legislature then declared that the practice of naturopathy in the state of Tennessee would be considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Although it was under considerable public pressure in those years, the American Naturopathic Association undertook some of its most scholarly work, coordinating all the systems of naturopathy under commission. This resulted in the publication of a basic textbook on naturopathy (Basic Naturopathy published in 1948 by the ANA ) and a significant work compiling all the known theories of botanical medicine (as commissioned by the ANA’s successor after its 1950 name change to the American Naturopathic Physicians and Surgeons Association), the Naturae Medicina published in 1953. Naturopathic medicine began splintering when Lust’s ANA was succeeded by six different organizations in the mid 1950s.
The primary organizations among these were the successor to the ANA, which underwent a name change in 1950 to the American Naturopathic Physician and Surgeon’s Association, and subsequently changed to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in 1956, and the International Society of Naturopathic Physicians formed under the leadership of M. T. Campenella of Florida shortly after Lust’s death, with its American offshoot, the National Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
By 1955, the AANP, as it ultimately became known, had recognized only two schools of naturopathic medicine, the Central States College of Physiatrics in Eaton, Ohio, under the leadership of H. Riley Spitler, and Western States College of Chiropractic and Naturopathy located outside Portland, Oregon, under the leadership of R. A. Budden. Budden was a Lindlahr graduate and among the group which took over control of the Lindlahr College after Lindlahr’s death in the 1920s. He moved west after World War II when the north-west States, including Oregon, became the last bastion of naturopathic medicine in this country.