Controversial naturopath’s story told in new podcast
7 May 2019
The extreme raw-food ‘cleansing’ diets of controversial Perth naturopath Dorothea Snook are back in demand, 30 years after a court case put her out of business.
Mrs Snook, who died in 2008 aged 93, is the subject of a new podcast that investigates key events in the mother-of-seven’s life, leading up to the 1990 coronial inquiry into her brother Stanley’s death.
“The podcast looks at things from the Snook family’s perspective, and I interviewed science and health experts on what we now know about diet and health,” Brisbane-based science writer Greta Puls said.
“I found it a fascinating insight into early 20th-century views on diet and health, and was surprised to discover things like celery juice, and the alkaline and keto diets, have been around for 100 years.
“In 1939 Mrs Snook’s mentor, Dr Alice Caporn, was branded a ‘nutcase’ for criticising the value of dairy foods and ridiculed for her ‘American hooey’ when she applied for a license to sell what she described as Perth’s ‘first real wholemeal bread’.”
Author of a 2017 biography on Mrs Snook, ‘Gut Instinct: Mrs Snook’s Diet’, Ms Puls is often contacted by people who were clients of Mrs Snook, or want to buy her books.
“She has a bit of a following in the United States and in Canada,” Ms Puls said.
In July 2019, the first Snook vintage raw-food gut-cleanse retreat will be run on Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef by a Brisbane-based yoga instructor who runs wellness retreats in Italy.
“The Magnetic Island retreat is already booked out and another one is planned,” Ms Puls said.
Mrs Snook was known for her alkaline raw fruit and vegetable gut-cleanse diet that she claimed was helpful against cancer and arthritis.
“For decades Mrs Snook had publicly stated her views that plant-based diets could help fight against cancer but in 1990 such public declarations were the key issue in her deregistration as a naturopath,” Ms Puls said.
A journalist by training, Ms Puls has worked in science communication for universities and CSIRO.
She tried Mrs Snook’s diet in 2013 when she wanted to lose a few kilos.
“I was amazed at how good I felt after a few days on her diet and, as I knew there had been some scandal about her diet, I decided to research Mrs Snook’s story,” she said.
Ms Puls spent three years writing Mrs Snook’s biography, which was launched at the Nedlands Public Library in April 2017.
She then began work on a podcast.
“I interviewed scientists, medical and naturopathic practitioners and spoke to Mrs Snook’s family and former clients for the podcast,” she said.
She would now like to make contact with anyone who remembers Mrs Snook or was one of her naturopathic clients, for an upcoming podcast episode.
“I am really interested to hear any stories or experiences people may have had with Mrs Snook, or anyone who has knowledge of her mentor Doctor Alice Caporn,” Ms Puls said.
Greta Puls can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile + 61 (0) 419 578 356