Naturopathy has its roots in the European health movement called Nature Cure that began in the late 1700's. Utilizing simple treatments from nature, sunlight, water, food, and simple living, Nature Cure was brought to the United States at the end of the 1800's by a German practitioner named Benedict Lust. Once in this country, Lust trained as a osteopath, herbalist and homeopath before opening his own school of medicine. Formalized into a full training program of eclectic studies, nature cure became naturopathy.
The profession evolved through the 1900's incorporating modern medical theory and diagnostic techniques and practices if they fit into naturopathy's original philosophical tenets. This blend of traditional nature cure and modern science is what we now call naturopathic medicine.
Water flowing, Herman Gulch, July 2012
Denver has its own history of nature cure, homeopathy and naturopathic medicine.
Dr. Charles Enos and Dr Samuel Shannon opened the Denver Homeopathic Hospital in 1890.
Dr. John H. Tilden, the author of Toxemia Explained, opened his first sanitarium in the Highlands area of Denver. He closed and then reopened a second school. [this section obviously isn't complete and one of these days I'll find the dates and addresses, please be patient or if you aren't, email me a reminder]
Another school, the University of Natural Healing Arts trained Chiropractors and Naturopathic Doctors at 1075 Logan Street from 1923 until it closed in the 1960's. The program was on parr with the other schools training naturopaths across the country at that time. As a result, many of Colorado's early naturopathic doctors practiced under chiropractic licenses.
Even at that point, the practice of naturopathy required a rigorous course of study. From the 1956 catalog: "The Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) course requires four school years (36 months) and 4,680 sixty -minute hours of instruction of which not over 1,080 hours shall be in Public Clinic and Intern work.... No correspondence courses are offered by the University, and no short courses in Chiropractic or Naturopathy. The nature of the schooling, the responsibility of the practitioner, and the conscientious high standards of the University do not permit haphazard or inferior training."
I put this historic aside in because in recent years a number of people who have taken short correspondence courses in natural health have begun practicing in Colorado as "naturopathic doctors" yet do not meet any of the traditional standards of education for the profession that have been accepted for almost 80 years.
Licensing in Colorado:
Colorado does not license the practice of naturopathic medicine. This results in two problems:
First, anyone can call himself a naturopathic doctor regardless of education, qualifications and past history. As a result the public must be exceptionally cautious when selecting a naturopathic doctor. The term "buyer beware" was invented for situations like this. There are practitioners in Colorado who do not meet the standards for licensing required by other states, yet who call themselves naturopathic doctors (or naturopathic medical doctors). It is left to the consumer to figure out who is qualified and who isn't.
Second, practicing as a naturopathic doctor is a violation of the Colorado Medical Practice Acts. Naturopathic doctors are unable to write prescriptions to pharmacies in Colorado. Most have narrowed the scope of their practices to one degree or another and do not practice as they were trained. Both Drs. Bloom and Schor maintain licenses in Oregon as 'Naturopathic Physicians' but these grant no privileges in Colorado.
We have worked since 1991 to change this situation without success. Four different bills have been introduced into the Colorado Legislature during this period, but none have passed.
Modern Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine has come a long way in the last hundred years. Modern naturopathic doctors complete undergraduate pre-med educations before attending four year naturopathic medical schools. These schools are accredited by both regional and programmatic accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. Upon completing their training, graduates must pass national board examinations before states will grant them licenses to practice.
Drs. Bloom and Schor have been licensed as 'Naturopathic Physicians' in Oregon since 1991. Colorado law does not regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine and it still remains illegal for them to call themselves naturopathic physicians.
Further information on naturopathic medical education and a list of accredited training programs can be found at the website of the American Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges: http://www.aanmc.org/.
Albino Columbine, June 2012