Youngest daughter of a farming family of 13, Dorothy Snook (nee Greenham) grew up eating red meat and dairy but gave up these foods when, facing a liver cancer diagnosis in 1944. Dorothy swore her life had been saved by Alice Caporn’s raw food diet, and studied with Doctor Caporn to become a Doctor of Naturopathy. Her reputation grew but in 1990, the outspoken naturopath faced criminal charges over the death of her elderly brother, Stanley Greenham.
The accomplished grand dame of Australian naturopathy, Alice Caporn was born in South Australia and worked as a medical nurse in Western Australia’s Goldfields before boarding a boat at the age of 44 and sailing for America, leaving her husband and family behind. Alice stayed in America for two decades, working as a ‘mind cure’ nurse and studying for degrees in naturopathy, osteopathy and a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University. She outraged Perth authorities in 1938 for criticising the health benefits of milk and applying to sell her own wholemeal bread.
Stan Greenham, Dorothy Snook’s older brother, was a stalwart of the Koorda community, managing the Greenham family farm on his father’s retirement prior to purchasing his own property. On the occasion of Koorda’s 50th anniversary in 1957, Stan’s popularity and charitable nature was evident in his winning the title of the town’s ‘ugliest man’ title by 5,300 votes and raising 1,000 pounds. In his elderly years, Stan was a regular visitor to his sister Dorothy’s farm near Koorda, where he died in November 1989. His death was to become the subject of a controversial coronial inquiry in 1990.
Born in 1938, six years before her mother, Dorothy Snook, was carried into Alice Caporn’s naturopathic clinic crippled by arthritis, Barbara became national news following her miraculous recovery from a three-year coma, after falling from her Sydney apartment and suffering massive head wounds. Doctors, who threatened to make her a ward of the state rather than allow her mother to treat her with naturopathy, said she would be a ‘vegetable’ – if she survived. It was a grim and damning prognosis – but they reckoned without the power of Mrs Snook’s faith.
Born in Germany just a couple of years before Alice Caporn, Benedict Lust was cured from tuberculosis by Father Kneipp’s therapies. Lust became Kneipp’s protégé and took Kneipp’s nature cure to the ‘new world’ in America. Here he expanded on Kneipp’s water therapies to also embrace nutrition (Lust once claimed to have eaten raw food for six years straight), massage, exercise, fresh air and other holistic natural therapies under the umbrella of a new discipline, ‘Naturopathy’ - which Lust founded in New York in 1901. Benedict Lust’s close friend, colleague and former student, Dr Frederick W Collins, was one of Alice Caporn’s naturopathy teachers.
Professor Stephen Myers
Stephen Myers is a Professor of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Southern Cross University. He obtained a Naturopathic Diploma in 1982 from the Southern School of Natural Therapies and a medical degree from the University of Newcastle in 1991. His PhD was completed in 1999 which explored the effects of lyophilised garlic in pharmacologically modifiable cardiovascular risk factors. Professor Myers is a member of the Complementary Medicine Evaluation Committee of the Commonwealth Government, a statutory expert advisory committee to the Office of Complementary Medicines of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of the Australian Federal Department of Health. He has acted as consultant to industry, government and educational institutions on a broad range of issues involving natural medicine.