The Mainstreaming of Natural Therapies

One medicine for all is historically a very recent development of the 20th Century. In the United States in the 1800’s, there were many different types or “schools” of medicine, including homeopaths, herbalists and many others, all of whom incorporated local folk remedies in their repertoire. Homeopathy became very popular during the 19th century, and claimed many adherents. In those days, medicine was practiced by all types of people, including many women, black, working class, and poorer people, so that all communities were served. There were sixteen women’s medical schools by and ten black medical colleges by 1900. The family doctor also knew folk remedies and herbal medicines, and had learned much from personal experience.

In 1917, Abraham Flexner came out with the “Flexner Report” which called for the standardization of medical education and practice, proposing that it should be built around laboratory science and clinical experience. In addition, it proposed standards of professional behavior, and the exclusion of women, black, and the poor from practice. Homeopathic doctors and herbalists were frozen out of the mainstream.

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