Clayton College of Natural Health

Clayton College of Natural Health
Clayton College of Natural Health
Active 1980–2010
Type Private, distance education
President Jeff Goin
Location Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The Clayton College of Natural Health was a non-accredited American distance-learning natural health college based in Birmingham, Alabama, offering classes in various forms of alternative medicine. The school was founded in 1980 by Lloyd Clayton Jr. as the American College of Holistic Nutrition.[1] According to its website, the school at one point had more than 25,000 students and graduates.[2] The school and some of its more notable graduates have been the subject of controversy.


History and accreditation

The American College of Holistic Nutrition was founded in 1980 by Lloyd Clayton Jr. In 1997, its name was changed to Clayton College of Natural Health.[1]

Clayton College of Natural Health never held educational accreditation from any agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.[3] Several state education agencies specifically list Clayton as unaccredited, among them Oregon, Texas, Michigan, and Maine.[4] Degrees issued by Clayton may not be acceptable to some employers or institutions, and use of degree titles granted by Clayton may be restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions.[4][5]

Closure and lawsuit

In July 2010, the college announced on its website that it was ceasing operations, blaming a number of factors but primarily the effects of the recent economic recession.[6] In November 2010, a class action lawsuit was filed seeking recoveries on behalf of thousands of students who were enrolled in prepaid distance education programs at Clayton College.[7] The lawsuit claims Clayton breached its fiduciary duty, was negligent, among other claims, and seeks compensation for the tuition amounts paid for programs that are no longer available. They are also seeking compensation for Plaintiffs’ "loss of time and opportunity", among other damages.[8]


Clayton offered five degree programs and seven certificate programs.[9] The degree programs included Bachelors and Masters of Science in Natural Health, Bachelor and Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition, Doctor of Education in Holistic Health and Wellness, and Doctor of Naturopathy (not to be confused with Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine). Certificates were offered in iridology, Herbalism, Companion Animal Studies, Practitioner Education Studies, and Natural Wellness Studies. No clinical training was provided.

Notable alumni

Well-known graduates include television nutrition personality Gillian McKeith,[10] controversial naturopath Hulda Regehr Clark, author Robert Young, and author Kim Barnouin, co-author of the diet book, Skinny Bitch.[11] McKeith's credentials from Clayton have been the focus of comment in The Guardian's "Bad Science" column, specifically the institution's unaccredited status and the institution's refusal to make McKeith's doctoral dissertation available for outside review.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b Shabi, Rachel (January 8, 2005). "Food fighters". The Guardian.,,1379280,00.html. 
  2. ^ Clayton College of Natural Health website top page, as archived on 26 July 2008.
  3. ^ U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs and Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations, searched November 25, 2007.
  4. ^ a b State accreditation database results include the following, verified 16 January 2009:
  5. ^ Jones, Adam (2007-02-11). "State’s diploma mills draw academic ire". Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  6. ^ Lange, Andrew. "The biggest quack school in natural medicine closes". Huffington Post. 
  7. ^ CCNH Lawsuit
  8. ^ Class Action Complaint - US District Court - Filed 11/05/10
  9. ^ "Clayton College of Natural Health Educational Programs". Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  10. ^ Goldacre, Ben (February 3, 2007). "The Internal Examiner". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Rogers, John (August 22, 2007). "'Skinny Bitch' Diet Book Gains Fans". FoxNews.,4675,BooksSkinnyBitchDiet,00.html. 
  12. ^ Gibson, Owen (February 12, 2007). "TV dietician to stop using title Dr in adverts". The Guardian.,,2011151,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  13. ^ Goldacre, Ben (February 12, 2007). "Ms Gillian McKeith – Banned From Calling Herself A Doctor!". The Guardian. 

External links

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