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In 1939, Dr Alice Caporn was aged 65 and living in Perth. She lived for some time in the United States where she trained and developed her dietary theory.

I came across Alice Caporn while writing “Mrs Snook’s Diet”, the biography Dorothea Snook, a well-known Perth naturopath. Alice Caporn was Mrs Snook’s mentor and Mrs Snook trained in her Caporn method of exercises and followed a vintage-style diet aligned with the alkaline dietary principles of achieving the correct acid and alkaline balance in the body for optimum health.

Dr Alice Caporn, a former Coolgardie nurse, found opportunity in the United States and lived there for a number of years, where she obtained four degrees, including a Doctor of Philosophy also degrees in biology, helio-therapy and physical culture. When she returned to Australia to settle in Perth in 1938, Dr Caporn applied for a license to sell the city’s first ever loaf of wholemeal bread Perth, her linseed loaf. She sent a freshly baked loaf to the Western Australian Commissioner of Public Health, Dr Atkinson, who pointedly ignored by it (as he did Dr Caporn’s earlier letter of introduction).

On October 1, 1939, Perth’s ‘The Sunday Times’ reported:
“The efforts of local food faddist “Dr.” Alice Caporn to place a new fancy bread upon the market in Perth have failed. Alice Caporn sought permission from the Health authorities to make a kind of linseed loaf. According to the formula submitted, the bread would comprise mainly crushed linseed and wholemeal.… But after the Government Analyst (Dr. Simpson) and other authorities had considered the matter, Alice Caporn’s application to make a linseed loaf was rejected.”

Alice Caporn was outspoken on whatever issue she felt strongly about, particularly diet. In an age before computers and television, she wrote many letters to the editor an a range of subjects, from Aboriginal rights, cruelty to animals, and offered her thoughts on how men should dress appropriately for the Australian climate. She was very pro-the United States in an era when the former Australian colony’s focus was the motherland, Great Britain.

Alice M Caporn was a registered nurse, who married and went to live in the United States for a number of years. She returned, aged in her sixties, to live in Perth with relatives and ran a naturopathy practice in Nedlands. She married again when aged in her seventies.

Dr Alice Caporn was trained as a Naturopath in the early 1900s when the naturopathy profession was founded by German doctor Benedict Lust. Dr Caporn (and Mrs Snook) advocated a vegetable and juice raw food diet – no meat, dairy, limited grains. If you know anything of Dr Caporn (or Mrs Snook). I would love to hear from you. My email is margaret@margaretpuls.com.au

(Pic of Alice Caporn: The Sunday Times, Perth)

16 comments

  1. Hi Stacey, Mrs Snook died in 2008 aged 93. I am working with her family to tell Mrs Snook’s incredible life story, as well as republish some recipes and diets. My biography also includes a chapter on Alice Caporn, who trained Mrs Snook.

    1. Hello i have been looking for Mrs Snook book she put out many year ago unfortunatly i had a copy of her little blue paper back i lent it to someone and didn’t get it back. i would love another copy as my husband has diabeties and this will help him

    1. Hi, I see that Mrs Snook’s publications come up now in Google books now but there is only a cover, no booklet. I was fortunate to buy a genuine copy of one of her self-published booklets, What a Way to Go! The library dates this publication to 1983. Her book on vegetarianism and diet’Was man intended by nature to be a herbivorous animal, or a carnivorous animal?’ sits alongside Peter Singer and JM Coetzee in Edgar Crook’s an annotated bibliography of vegetarianism and Veganism in Australia. I am including Mrs Snook’s diets and natural food remedies in the book.

  2. Margaret I would love one of those books if you can republish. My mum died of cancer so did her mum. I want to make sure I’m as healthy as I can be.

  3. Dear Margaret, I am interested in your chapter on Alice Caporn. I realise your primary interest will be in her medical/health background but did you know that she was also a Georgist, a follower of Henry George and a member of the Single Tax League in Western Australia. She wrote several articles for the League’s monthly journal titled TAXATION in 1906 – availible in hard copy -not digitised – at the J S Battye Library. i would be most hapy to purchase your book when it is published, even as an e book (I loathe the net). Andrew Gill

  4. Hi Andrew, thank you for that fabulous information on Alice Caporn! I was not aware of that. She was quite a woman. My favourite story about her was how in her late seventies, she headed north to Darwin with her new husband, towing a giant, unairconditioned caravan. The tropical weather got so hot up there that the elderly couple had to strip and wrap themselves in damp sheets! I expect you may have discovered Mrs Alice M Caporn was also an author, published by the famous Boston Four Seas Company in 1921. You can download her ‘Awake Christian Scientists!’ as a PDF from Google books. I’ve fallen asleep trying to read it a few times. While she reminds me of Mrs Snook in so many ways; Mrs Snook who was equally as opinionated, was a better writer, although I do enjoy Alice Caporn’s many letters to the editor. You can read them on Trove. Many thanks again.
    http://google.com.au/books?id=ycMPAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

  5. My friend and I met Mrs Snook in 1986 and we both did her diet. She was one scary lady we felt like school children when we would go for our visits. It took many weeks to do the diet and when we were allowed to eat a banana! That banana tasted so good! Mrs Snook always knew if you had cheated on the diet! We both felt so healthy doing her diet. We did have copies of the diet but over the years we have both misplaced copies. I would love to find out if her diet is still available. Mrs Snook was a woman before her time.

  6. Hi Jan! That sounds very much like Mrs Snook, from all the reading I have done about her and former clients I have talked to. Mrs Snook was a woman ahead of her time 🙂 I hope to have her book published soon – with the diets. I will let you know!

  7. Hi Margaret, My wife and I went to visit Mrs.Snook in September 1979. We had our eyes photographed and she gave a health report based on our eyes. She gave us a forceful outline of her diet and it’s importance to our general health.
    She gave us “Chart One” and told us to return in 2 weeks. She offered to sell us a juicer for $40, she did it as a convenience as they sold in the city for $39.95. I still have the 4 original charts with her notes. Very impressive lady, radiated good health. We sometimes went to see her for the her the next chart thinking we could not go any longer and she would inspire us to keep going.
    The greengrocer loved to see us walk into his store! We still miss the range of fresh fruit and veg available. WA

    1. Hello Larry, it is great to hear from you – and from anyone who met Mrs Snook, or is interested in the diet. My mother went to see Mrs Snook when she lived in Menora in 1980 and – like you – she still has the original diet charts from her consultation. She also has her original iridology charts. I tried Mrs Snook’s diet in 2013, and the results led me to write this book (which has taken so much longer than I anticipated but includes some very fascinating history of the European nature cure movement and early naturopathy movement, plus details of the mind cure, which Mrs Snook’s mentor Alice Caporn, was schooled in). I hate to give an estimation of when the book will be published, as I have been wrong so many times before! But I anticipate in the first quarter of 2017. Thank you so much for your message – and thanks to everyone, particularly anyone whose message I may have missed. I will publish a chapter of the book on line soon. Best wishes, Margaret

  8. Good morning Margaret,
    Some time ago (around 1987/88) our youngest daughter, 15years old, developed Crohns disease and we found out about Mrs Snook and visited her on several occasions, following the recommended diet. Whilst our daughter was not cured her level of pain was greatly reduced and she enjoyed much better health at the time. Although I don’t seem able to find the original diet sheets, I am confident that what I remembered is pretty accurate and have now put them of file in my computer. It sounds as if you have copies of her diets but if you want what I used I would be happy to forward them to you later on.

    I am not sure if you are aware that one of her daughters was involved in a very serious accident, some time before we met Mrs Snook, and I believe Mrs Snook went to the Eastern States to be with her. Mrs Snook explained to me that her daughter had been in a coma for some time and not expected to live, so she took things into her own hands, exercising her daughters limbs daily and I think, intravenously feeding her juices or something like that. One day her daughter woke up and got out of bed and was able to walk, due to the exercises stopping her muscles from atrophying. I did meet her daughter who was acting, in part, as Mrs Snooks receptionist. She did have some speech and physical impairment at the time but some months later we met them both at the Perth Royal show and her daughter appeared greatly improved. Unfortunately that was the last contact we had with them both and I have often wondered how they were going.
    We ended up taking our daughter a number of times to the American Biologics clinic in Tjuanna for alternative treatment and she has done amazingly well. Her crohnes is reduced to a very small area of her system, she is married and mum to two dear little boys, something she feared would never be a part of her life when she was so very ill. For a long time she wasn’t game to be less than ten metres from a toilet – not much fun for a teenager. She continues to improve even now and we look forward to her one day being completely well.

    Kind regards – Glennis Mills.

  9. Hi Glennis, how lovely to hear from you! Thank you so much for your message. I am always interested to hear from anyone who knew Mrs Snook, and particularly those who were her clients and can provide any feedback on her diets. I am very pleased to hear about your daughter’s success in managing Crohn’s disease – it is great to hear she led a full life while dealing with this disease. I will publish the diet Mrs Snook recommended for her clients in 1980. This diet was a three month diet consisting of a series of two-week diet charts over three months which aimed to cleanse the gut and she prescribed for most conditions – as she believed all disease begins in the gut and the first step was to cleanse the gut from undigested and putrid waste. This diet may have been similar to the charts you were given? Plus I will be reprinting a number of her other diets for arthritis and a range of conditions. I also profile in my book the story of Mrs Snook’s recovery of her eldest daughter’s life, following the accident you refer to. Her daughter spent years in a coma and her recovery was featured in ‘New Idea’. It is a fascinating story! Please do email me margaret@margaretpuls.com.au if you have any other information to share. Thankyou for taking the time to write to me!

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