‘The doctors are out to get Mrs Snook!’

  • Patricia Blundell of East Fremantle, ‘The West Australian’, May 26, 1990.


In late 1983, aged seventy, Dorothy Snook moved with her daughter Barbara to Peppertree House on a 24-acre property in an area known as Doctor’s Hill in Northam, the town where she had been born, and close by to where she spent her childhood on her family’s farm in Koorda.


Alice Caporn’s Hollywood Juice Cocktails c.1930s

  • Carrot juice – Magnetises the blood stream, good for hair and skin. Best method for extracting carrot juice: use a fine grater and then squeeze the pulp through cheese cloth.
  • Beetroot and lemon juice – Rich in sodium food for dissolving stones in the kidneys and gall bladder.
  • Celery – Rich in calcium for strong bones and teeth.
  • Parsley and cabbage juice – Rich in manganese for memory cells and iodine for thyroid gland (youth and beauty governor)
  • Watercress and mint juice – Rich in vitamin E, the fertility vitamin. Rich in iron for red blood.
  • Lettuce or silver beet, lemon juice – Rich in sodium, the dissolver, calcium for strength and endurance.
  • Rhubarb juice – Excellent cleanser and purifier of the blood stream.
  • Grape fruit juice – Rich in iron and quinine – feeds brain and nerves, induces sleep.


Mary Morse Baker was a difficult child.

Born in 1821 to a strict religious rural New Hampshire household, she was the youngest of six children.

At the age of eight she claimed to hear a religious voice calling her name and she would fall into a faint, lying comatose for hours.

Her father kept her out of school as he feared her brain was too big for her body.
Her mother indulged young Mary and her tutor described her as a “genius” remarking on her independence of thought.

At various times in her life, Mary was afflicted by colds, fevers, chronic dyspepsia, lung and liver ailments, backache, nervousness, gastric attacks and depression – which propelled her on a lifelong search for a remedy for disease.

The Baker family doctor dismissed Mary as suffering with nothing but a case of bad temper and hysteria.

From a difficult childhood, Mary Baker Eddy (she married her student Gilbert Eddy in 1877, her third marriage) popularised a theory of mind healing that remains persuasive today and founded the ‘Mother Church’, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1894.

During the first three years of her church’s existence, membership remained at fifty but by the turn of the century, membership had surpassed forty-thousand. Members came predominantly from the middle classes and nearly two-thirds were women.

The church practised spiritual healing and several thousand Christian Science healers, of whom more than eighty percent were women, set up throughout the United States in the early 1900s.

As a young woman Mary wanted to be a writer and she did end up writing a best-seller which is still in circulation today.  Her ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ was published in 1875, articulating the new Christian Science mind cure doctrine she developed and made famous.

She trained in homeopathy and experimented with diet but her most significant healing influence came from the famous mental healer, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-66) of Portland, Maine, who was famous as a magnetic healer. Quimby hypnotised patients and healed them by impelling his own mind into their brains. “Electricity had more or less to do with it,” he stated.

Quimby had studied and experimented with magnetic healing since 1838, before developing his own mind techniques, which were similar to hypnosis or the power of suggestion. His technique was to establish a rapport with his patients by experiencing their symptoms, massaging their head or limbs and speaking encouraging words.

After Mary Baker underwent such treatment with Quimby, she experienced an immediate, however, only temporary cure.

But in 1866 following a ‘miraculous’ recovery from severe injuries she received after a fall on an icy street which came about by focusing her mind on the divine, Mary became convinced that the mind in tune with the divine power of the universe could cure all disease, and the body was merely an appendage of the mortal mind.

Mary Baker’s mind cure theory involved a magnetic mental divine energy and willing a person to wellness. She also developed a theory about the flip-side of this energy, a ‘malicious animal magnetism’ which could be directed against a person by their enemies. She once chastised a student: “You are so full of malicious magnetism; your eyes stick out like a boiled codfish’s.”

While Mary’s theories were decried as a farrago of nonsense by physicians and cultural commentators including Mark Twain, there was some support for the cures claimed by Christian Science healing being genuine, based on the power of suggestion and placebo.

Mary Baker Eddy was charismatic and pragmatic enough to hold onto power in her Church. She did not believe in communicable disease but recommended Christian Science nurses decline to treat infectious or contagious patients. She was an anti-vaxxer but promoted her grandchildren being vaccinated.


In 1919, 44-year-old bush nurse Alice Caporn left her husband in Perth, Australia, to travel to Boston and save Mary Eddy’s church.

Alice stayed 20 years and became active in the mind cure faith and reform of the Christian Science church following the death of Mary Eddy in 1910. As well as working as a Christian Science nurse in Boston, she studied for four degrees in health including osteopathy, a Doctor of Naturopathy and Doctor of Philosophy, and two of her books are held at Harvard.

In an era before the word ‘vegan’ was coined to describe a diet free from meat, dairy, eggs and meat products Alice Caporn was proclaiming the benefits of a vegan diet. She was a nature cure activist who became known as ‘America’s famous nutritionist’ in the 1930s and developed a special set of exercises called the Dr Caporn Exercises. She was a prominent advocate for nudism tried to establish a nature cure colony for Modern Health Scientists in British Honduras.

Before taking up her meat-free diet and naturopathy in 1925, Alice Caporn wrote that she felt called to Boston, to serve Mary Baker Eddy’s Church in a passionate debate on church by-laws. She wrote of her great love for the church’s leader, Mary Baker Eddy:

When quite an infant in Science, I remember the most influential newspaper on the Western Australian goldfields giving an account of how one of the members of our Leader’s household “who resembles Mrs Eddy in appearance is receiving Mrs Eddy’s callers, impersonating her, dressed in Mrs Eddy’s ermine cloak,”: because – the paper affirmed – Mrs Eddy was either dead or too ill to receive visitors! This malignant attack had the effect of arousing (in the writer) a great abiding sense of love for our Leader, whom she never saw nor ever had any great desire to see in the flesh, and whom she knew was persecuted for righteousness sake.

In Boston Alice Caporn soon made her presence felt. She never shied of expressing her opinion. “I was born with reformer’s blood in me,” she wrote.

Later her reformist zeal would be transferred to Benedict Lust’s new naturopathy movement but when she first arrived in Boston, her energies were centred around a group agitating for change within the Christian Science church.

In a chapter titled ‘Man-archy’ in her 1921 book ‘Awake Christian Scientists’, Alice Caporn asks: “Does it not appear inconsistent that our church founded by Mrs Eddy, a woman, and governed by laws which she established, should have practically no representation by women…”

During her first two years in Boston, Alice Caporn was dismissed from her Christian Science nursing position with a Boston family following an incident where she castigated a charity collector from the Red Cross for the organisation’s support for vivisection (the use of animals in research).

Alice later defended her actions, writing: “I could do no other than become converted to Anti-Vivisection, the instant I heard about it. I am a vigorous opponent of this awful iniquity. I posted literature on the subject to all those whom I knew to be fond of animals. This, together with my interview with the Secretary of the New England Red Cross, and writing a letter to the Secretary of the Anti-Vivisection Society in New York was the extent of my activities in this worthy movement…”

Prior to her arrival in America, when living in Western Australia, Alice Caporn was an active follower of Henry George and the Single Tax League. She wrote several articles for the League’s monthly journal titled ‘Taxation’ in 1906 and later pursued her advocacy in Boston, where she chaired a single tax league society. “The Single Taxer,” she declared in an address in 1907 is “led by the burning desire to straighten out the crooked places in our social system”.

While Alice Caporn’s writings were very much influenced by Mary Eddy’s mind cure which she had seen work wonders, Alice now became focused on the spiritual and mental health benefits to be gained from a modern plant-based diet and nature-cure life.

She wrote she had seen cases where medical and Christian Science-style spiritual healing interventions had failed but the nature cure proved effective.

The nature cure, Alice Caporn wrote has a “decidedly beneficial effect upon the psychology of its student”.

Over the past twenty years research has revealed that our gut microbiome, in addition to regulating our physical health, plays a major role on our moods and behaviour.

The brain and gut are intricately connected, chemically as well as physically. Historically, the gut has often been referred to as our ‘second brain’ and the gut possesses the greatest source of neurons in the body outside of the brain.

Chemicals and vitamins of critical importance to our brains are produced in the gut. Bacterial metabolites, which are by-products from plant-based fibre digestion, are found to increase the levels of the gut hormone and neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with our moods and often referred to as ‘the happy chemical’

Around sixty percent of our faeces are made up of bacteria and human studies have indicated that the gut bacteria secreted in the faeces of people suffering from major depression differs from the faecal bacterial profile of healthy volunteers.

While a link between mental illness and gut bacteria has been established, much remains unknown.

Alice Caporn was a great believer in the benefits of the sun, diet and exercise to improve a person’s health and spiritual wellbeing. For her the body was a tuning fork, a conduit that enabled the brain to reach into a higher realm of consciousness.

For Alice Caporn’s famous student, Dorothy Snook, the nervous system was the most highly developed and important of all the body’s systems: “In the brain is situated the site of consciousness, thought, memory, speech and the will to carry out purposeful actions,” she wrote.

Mrs Snook recommended avoiding the extremes of emotion, and warned against neglecting spirituality, as the spiritual side of a person’s nature was “the real you” while the body was “the house where you live”.

Healing required a healthy mind as well as body, for healing began in the mind and the belief in success was paramount.

The Far-Reaching Influence of our Food

By Alice Caporn

“There is a great truth in the German proverb which says that “As man eateth so is he”. Devitalised, demineralised and adulterated food, and the right kinds of food badly cooked and poorly prepared, causes slow starvation of the tissues and higher nerve centres and in this way leads to physical and mental deterioration. What we eat and how we eat it, not only affects our efficiency but our disposition, our temperament and even our character: but it does it so insidiously that we little realise to what extent our successes and failures, as well as our popularity and lack of it, depend upon our diet.

Published in Alice Caporn’s monthly journal ‘Modern Living’ in Perth, 193939

Read more in GUT INSTINCT: MRS SNOOK’S DIET. Available in Kindle (ebook) and paperback.



Food portion size tips

From Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat. Look for less. Your eyes are the perfect instrument for sizing up portion sizes. Use your estimating techniques to size up the food on your plate.

  • 1 thumb tip = 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, butter, or sugar
  • 1 finger = 1 oz. of cheese
  • 1 fist = 1 cup cereal, pasta, or vegetables
  • 1 handful = 1 oz. of nuts or pretzels
  • 1 palm = 3 oz. of meat, fish, or poultry

‘Gut Instinct: Mrs Snook’s Diet’

I am delighted to announce the launch of my new book, ‘Gut Instinct: Mrs Snook’s Diet‘ on April 12, 2017. Follow me on Facebook for updates and links to the published book.

From bustling Boston and New York of the early 1900s to a lonely Coroner’s court in rural Western Australia, ‘Gut Instinct’ tells the story of Dorothea Snook and her raw food diets for babies, children, and those suffering from various ailments, including cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Read the fascinating history of the nature cure and the remarkable people who were leading figures in the movement – advocating raw food, and alkaline diet, no dairy or meat over a century ago. Learn about the mind cure and the very modern dietary philosophies that gut microbiome science is now proving correct.

Includes interviews, case studies – plus Mrs Snook’s famous gut cleanse diet and the original vintage nature cure diet charts for a range of ailments.

Ms Snook cover small



Dr Alice Caporn. Alkaline diet raw food naturopath who tried to introduce wholemeal bread into Perth


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)