The History of Naturopathic Medicine

vancouver naturopathic medicine aumakua integrated wellness clinic phone numberFormulated by Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, “The healing power of nature” is the central principle of naturopathic medicine.

In North America, naturopathic medicine owes its origins to Dr. Benedict Lust. He founded the American School of Naturopathy whose first class graduated in 1902.

Dr. Lust used the term “naturopathy” to describe a clinical practice, which integrated natural healing methods such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutritional therapy, manipulative therapy, acupuncture and lifestyle counseling.

From there, future Naturopathic practitioners formed the Naturopathic Society of America and established naturopathic colleges and large health centers throughout North America.

By 1920, naturopathic practice was well established in Canada. By 1925 Laws which regulated naturopathic practice were enacted in Ontario. British Columbia followed suit in 1936, Manitoba in 1943 and Saskatchewan in 1952.

In 1955 the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) was established to represent the profession’s interests in Canada.

However, after the Second World War health care became preoccupied with scientific advances and began to disregard traditional medicine. Practitioners and citizens put their trust into advances in surgical techniques, the introduction of antibiotics and growth of the pharmaceutical industries.

This was an era of scientific reductionism and an almost blind faith in the medical “miracle”. The approach continued throughout the 1950’s.

As a result of a growing dissatisfaction with high tech solutions to health problems, in the last twenty years there has been a resurgence in the public’s desire for greater control over their health care process. This trend has increased demand for naturopathic services as people seek ways to improve their health, cope with day-to-day stresses and avoid illness.

In Canada, naturopathic medical education began in 1978 with the founding of the Ontario College of Naturopathic medicine (OCNM) in Toronto. OCNM offered post-graduate courses in naturopathic medicine to chiropractors, dentists and medical doctors.

By 1983, the first four-year, full-time program was offered at OCNM and enrolment was expanded to include students with a University degree who had completed the appropriate prerequisites.

In 1992, the College became the Canadian College of Naturopathic medicine (CCNM) to better reflect its mandate to educate students from across Canada. Application rates for the CCNM program have grown over 10 times since 1991. In 2000 the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic medicine opened in British Columbia to further support the growing demand for naturopathic doctors in Canada.

We thank the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors for this article.

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