Washington Law Review


John F. Hansler


The practitioner of the healing arts who ministers to the sick and afflicted without the use of drugs and surgery has long posed a difficult regulatory problem to legislatures and to the courts. Though battered by the invective of regular medica practitioners, drugless healers continue to thrive in one form or another in most of the United States. The most common classes of these healers are the osteopaths, the chiropractors, the naturopaths, and the Christian Science practitioners. Osteopathy is licensed by statute in all of the states; it is the branch of drugless healing most like general medicine and surgery in principles and techniques and is becoming in many respects a specialized branch of that practice. Chiropractic, licensed in nearly all of the states, has as its method the palpation and adjustment of the spine as a cure of bodily ailments. The general term "naturopathy" embraces over sixty varieties of healing methods and traces its lineage to German healers of the last century who believed that nature and natural agents—sunlight, water, air, etc.—were the greatest healing agents. This branch is recognized by statute in only a few states, one of which is Washington. Christian Science practitioners follow the doctrine that the sick and afflicted may be returned to health by study, faith, and prayer. Since this branch of drugless healing has in certain respects received legal treatment very different from that of the other branches, Christian Science should not, except where the text indicates otherwise, be considered as embraced in the general term "drugless healing" in the discussion that follows.

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