Benedict Lust was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty. Here he contracted severe tuberculosis. Neither homeopathy nor allopathy could help him and he wasted away to 104 pounds. The medical establishment gave up on him. He decided to go back to Germany to die. Once back, he traveled to see Father Sebastian Kneipp and got treatment from him. Father Sebastian Kneipp cured him in just eight months. Benedict Lust returned to the United States to spread the message about nature cure and dedicated the rest of his life for this cause. Benedict Lust can be rightfully considered “the father of natural health” for the following reasons:
- Introduced naturopathy in America – He founded the Water Cure Institute in New York City and established Kneipp Societies throughout the United States. He was the only authorized provider of Kniepp nature cure in USA. He modified Kneipp’s cure to suit American sensibilities and used it in combination with other nature cure methodologies.
- Popularized the term naturopathy – Lust purchased all rights to the term naturopathy, which had been coined in 1902 by John Scheel, MD. He combined the natural cures from various naturopaths and healers, and presented them in US under the name of naturopathy.
- Established schools for the study of naturopathy – Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York in 1901. The school taught every brach of nature cure. The school offered a two-year general course, advanced courses, and post-graduate curriculum. Lust also established The New York School of Massage and Training School for Physiotherapy. He also offered home-study courses in naturopathy through his journal.
- Founded American Naturopathic Association – Lust founded the first professional organization of naturopathic physicians, American Naturopathic Association. This gave practicing naturopaths an avenue to meet other naturopaths and learn from each other. This organization played a vital role in unifying the profession in face of many difficult circumstances.
- Started various publications – Lust started monthly publications like Kneipp Water Cure Monthly and The Naturopath and Herald of Health. The Naturopath and Herald of Health became an official publication of the American Naturopathic Association. These journals articulated Lust’s philosophy, educated readers about naturopathy, gave instructions about treatment methods, and gave state-by-state news on legal developments concerning naturopathy. He also published, Nature’s path, a magazine for lay people that took nature cure into people’s homes. In 1918, Lust published Universal Naturopathic Encyclopedia, Directory and Buyer’s Guides: Yearbook of drugless Therapy for 1918-1919.
- Obtained legal status for naturopathy – Benedict Lust’s most important accomplishment was that naturopathy received legal status in many states of the USA because of his efforts. Current naturopathic statutes in states like Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut can be attributed to dogged perseverance of Lust.