The 1927 Oregon Legislature brought Naturopathy to this state with the launch of the Board of Naturopathic Examiners, granting it the power to license and regulate naturopathic doctors and setting a standard as the first state to do so. With Portland at the epicenter of the Oregon Naturopathic community with 57 percent of Oregon licensees residing there, Oregon leads the nation with 862 current licensees of whom 82 are inactive which ranks it first in the nation. Of the twelve other states that license naturopathic doctors, Oregon law has the most comprehensive Formulary from which N.D.’s may prescribe from. Furthermore, authority to perform minor surgery, practice natural childbirth, and administer injection therapies (with the latter two needing special certification) gives Oregon N.D.’s a scope of practice that is balanced and far more reaching than other states.
The principles and methodology of modern naturopathy can be traced back to northern Europe, primarily Germany. Known as Nature Cure practitioners, Father Sebastian Kneipp, Vincent Priessnitz, and a handful of other practitioners prescribed notions of dietary balance, sun baths, herbal concoctions, and a healthy exercise regiment. The landmark publication “My Water Cure” in 1882 by Kneipp pushed the ideology of nature cure into the forefront. Translated into 14 languages “My Water Cure ” focused on hydrotherapy, botanical medicine, exercise, nutrition, and spirituality.
Coined in the late 19th Century by John Scheel, the rights to use Naturopathy were purchased and later popularized by Benedict Lust. After becoming seriously ill, Lust traveled to Germany and studied under Father Kneipp. Lust studied many natural health practices in Germany including hydrotherapy and brought these practices to the United States. In 1905 America gave birth to its first naturopathic college in New York and was christened the American School of Naturopathy by its founder Benedict Lust. Driving the naturopathic community in New York, Lust began publishing “The Naturopathic Herald of Health” which gave the community a legitimacy that established a footing in the culture of his time. For the next thirty years Lust was a strong advocate and vigorous supporter of the profession and assisted in the enactment of licensing laws in a half dozen states including Oregon.
After the publication of the Flexner Report both allopathic (“regular”) and nonallopathic
(“irregular”) medical schools were brought under severe scrutiny and forced to adhere to the practice of conventional science and a curriculum based on Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. After the closure of more than half of the medical institutions in the United States between the years of 1910 and 1935, naturopathic medicine was brought to its knees and suffered a dramatic decline in the number of licensed professionals. By mid-century the term “miracle drug” was coined with the discovery of sulfa drugs and antibiotics. Together with the increased use of technology in medicine, allopathic methodology rose while natural healing declined and the last college offering a degree in naturopathic medicine, Western States Chiropractic College in Portland Oregon closed its doors. Still on the books in a few key states, licensing laws governing naturopathic doctors kept the door open for a renaissance in naturopathic medicine. In 1956 naturopathic doctors across the Northwest came together to found the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) in Seattle, Washington. This marked the first bursts of the Naturopathic profession. The next thirty years would bring unprecedented growth as the role of primary-care professionals in the diagnosis and natural treatment of patients expanded and became the mainstay for naturopathic doctors. Two decades later graduates of the NCNM formed what would become Bastyr University in Seattle Washington in 1978 based upon the principles and inspiring example of Dr. John Bastyr, one of NCNM’s founders. 1978 also brought NCNM to Portland Oregon where it has flourished for the past thirty years. Five medical schools currently hold accreditation by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The CNME is the accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education that grants
accreditation to four-year medical programs leading to a doctoral degree in Naturopathic
Medicine annotated as N.D. or N.M.D., which are considered synonymous.