Portrait of Benedict Lust

In Their Own Words:
Articles from Classic Journals

What is the goal of naturopathy as a system of medicine?
Read some of the musings of its founder, Benedict Lust, in articles published in The Naturopath and Herald of Health in the early 1900s.

Editorial Drift
by Benedict Lust, ND

Naturopathy is a hybrid word. It is purposely so. No single tongue could distinguish a system whose origin, scope and purpose is universal—broad as the world, deep as love, high as heaven. Naturopathy was not born of a sudden or a happen-so. Its progenitors have for eons been projecting thoughts and ideas and ideals whose culminations are crystallized in the new Therapy. Connaro, doling out his few fixed ounces of food and drink each day in his determined exemplification of Dietotherapy; Priessnitz, agonizing despised and dejected through the long years of Hydropathy’s travail; the Woerishofen priest, laboring lovingly in his little parish home for the thousands who journeyed Germany over for the Kneipp cure; Kuhne, living vicariously and dying a martyr for the sake of Serotherapy; A. T. Still, studying and struggling and enduring for his faith in Osteopathy; Bernarr Macfadden, fired by the will to make Physical culture popular; Helen Willmans, threading the mazes of Mental Science, and finally emerging triumphant; Orrison Sweet Marden, throbbing in sympathy with human faults and failures, and longing to realize Success to all mankind—these and hosts of others have brought into being single systems whose focal features are perpetuated in Naturopathy.

Jesus Christ—I say it reverently—knew the possibility of physical immortality. He believed in bodily beauty; He founded Mental Healing; He perfected Spirit-power. And Naturopathy will include ultimately the supreme forces that made the Man of Galilee omnipotent.

The scope of Naturopathy is from the first kiss of the new-found lovers to the burying of the centenarian whose birth was the symbol of their perfected oneness. It includes ideally every life-phase of the id, the embryo, the feotus, the birth, the babe, the child, the youth, the man, the lover, the husband, the father, the patriarch, the soul.

We believe in strong, pure, beautiful bodies thrilling perpetually with the glorious power of radiating health. We want every man, woman and child in this great land to know and embody and feel the truths of right living that mean conscious mastery. We plead for the renouncing of poisons from the coffee, white flour, glucose, lard, and like venom of the American table to patent medicines, tobacco, liquor and the other inevitable recourse of perverted appetite. We long for the time when an eight-hour day may enable every worker to stop existing long enough to live; when the spirit of universal brotherhood shall animate business and society and the church; when every American may have a little cottage of his own, and a bit of ground where he may combine Aerotherapy, Heliotherapy, Geotherapy, Aristophagy and nature’s other forces with home and peace and happiness and the things forbidden to flat-dwellers; when people may stop doing and thinking and being for others and be for themselves; when true love and divine marriage and pre-natal culture and controlled parenthood may fill this world with germ-gods instead of humanized animals.

In a word, Naturopathy stands for the reconciling, harmonizing and unifying of nature, humanity and God. Fundamentally therapeutic because men need healing; elementally educational because men need teaching; ultimately inspirational because men need empowering, it encompasses the realm of human progress and destiny.

Perhaps a word of appreciation is due Mr. John H. Scheel, who first used the term “Naturopathic” in connection with his Sanitarium “Badekur”, and who has courteously allowed us to share the name. It was chosen out of some 150 submitted, as most comprehensive and enduring. All our present plans are looking forward some five or ten or fifty years when Naturopathy shall be the greatest system in the world.

Actually the present development of Naturopathy is pitifully inadequate, and we shall from time to time present plans and ask suggestions for the surpassing achievement of our world-wide purpose. Dietetics, Physical Culture and Hydropathy are the measures upon which Naturopathy is to build; mental culture is the means, and soul-selfhood is the motive.

If the infinite immensity of plan, plea and purpose of this particular magazine and movement were told you, you would simply smile in your condescendingly superior way and straightway forget. Not having learned as yet what a brain and imagination and a will can do, you consider Naturopathy an ordinarily innocuous affair, with a lukewarm purpose back of it, and an ebbing future ahead of it. Such is the character of the average wishy-washy health movement and tumultuous wave of reform.

Your incredulous smile would not discomfit us—we do not importune your belief, or your help, or your money. Wherein we differ from the orthodox self-labeled reformer, who cries for sympathy and cringes for shekels.

We need money most persistently—a million dollars could be used to advantage in a single branch of the work already definitely planned and awaiting materialization; and we need co-operation in a hundred different ways. But these are not the things we expect or deem best.

Criticism, fair, full and unsparing is the one thing of value you can give this paper. Let me explain. Change is the keynote of this January issue—in form, title, and make-up. If it please you, your subscription and a word to your still-benighted friends is ample appreciation. But if you don’t like it, say so. Tell us wherein the paper is inefficient or redundant or ill-advised, how it will more nearly fit into your personal needs, what we can do to make it the broadest, deepest, truest, most inspiring of the mighty host of printed powers. The most salient letter of less than 300 words will be printed in full, and we shall ask to present the writer with a subscription-receipt for life.

By to-morrow you will probably have forgotten this request; by the day after you will have dropped back into your old ways of criminal eating and foolish drinking and sagged standing and congested sitting and narrow thinking and deadly fearing—until the next progress paper of New Thought or Mental Science or Dietetics or Physical Culture prods you into momentary activity.

Between now and December we shall tell you just how to preserve the right attitude, physical and mental, without a single external aid; and how, every moment of every day, to tingle and pulsate and leap with the boundless ecstasy of manhood consciously nearing perfection.

Lust, B. (1902). Editorial Drift. The Naturopath and the Herald of Health, III(1), 32-33.