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Natural hygiene or orthopathy is an alternative to medicine that claims that the human body can and will heal itself if the causes of disease are removed. However, it does acknowledge that this concept is not helpful for some conditions, such as diabetes and others. For chronic conditions and serious diseases, it recommends being under the supervision of a professional practitioner.
Theories of natural hygiene
It is characterized by several theories:
- The human body contains the power to heal itself (without medicine).
- Disease exists when the body is prevented from healing itself.
- The primary causes of disease are stress, toxemia, over working, over eating, taking unhealthy substances, etc.
- Germs, bacteria, and viruses are not the primary cause of disease.
- Medicines are poisons to the human body and are harmful.
- Vaccinations are not effective, not safe and damage the immune system.
Natural hygiene claims to enable people to get well by removing the causes of disease, rather than by treatment with medicines and other foreign substances. As in all therapeutic systems, determining the true cause of a disease is a vital part of Natural Hygiene. Proponents claim that other health systems begin treatment without knowing the cause, or falsely stating that the cause is unknown, or describing as the cause what is merely a description of the disease, e.g. the cause of arthritis is claimed to be a stiffening of the joints.
History of natural hygiene
While natural hygiene is promoted as a new discovery, it in fact has roots in a number of alternative therapies that go back to the early nineteenth century. Dr. John H. Scheel, a German-born homeopath, coined the word naturopathy in 1895 for a system of dietary restrictions and herbal nostrums that conspicuously included fasting as a treatment, all founded on a sort of vitalism that was in vogue at the time, and was promoted as a philosophy by Henri Bergson, among others. Scheel's "naturopathy" itself stemmed back to the thought of the Rev. Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian clergyman and inventor of the Graham cracker, who believed that diet and morality were related and who taught that vegetarianism helped keep the libido in check. Some such as James Redfield even claimed a pure diet is a key step on the path to spiritual awareness and enlightenment.
The role of fasting
Natural hygiene holds that the true cause of disease is toxemia, or poisoning, in the blood. Natural Hygiene claims that these toxins are a normal product of metabolism or living. Advocates claim that enervating habits, or nerve energy destroying personal habits, such as worry, stimulants, or vaccinations; builds up toxins in your blood. Enervation (i.e., wasted nerve-energy ) is claimed to stop toxins from being eliminated from your blood. Natural hygiene theories rely on fasting as treatment for toxemia.
Natural hygiene practitioners often operate fasting clinics and fasting retreat centers patients undergo fasts and then they may be placed on a raw food diet for a length of time equal to the number of days of their fast. They claim that, as a result of fasting, people often recover from cancer, arthritis, asthma, digestive problems, high blood pressure, heart problems, and many other diseases.
For the purposes of natural hygiene, fasting means eating nothing, drinking only distilled water and getting lots of rest.
According to natural hygiene advocate Dr. Herbert Shelton the body enters a state of Autolysis or self-digestion in about the fourth day of a fast in which the body can break down even cancerous tissues and eliminate them.
Advocates say that attempting to do a long fast (more than 14 days) without the supervision of a natural hygiene practitioner is not recommended. Furthermore, they do not recommend fasting for the treatment of diabetes, cancer of the kidneys, cancer of the liver and severe anemia.
Cancer and Biopsy in Nature Cure
According to some practitioners of Nature Cure, biopsy is not a desirable one even as a test to find out whether a tumour is a benign or malignant one. According to them, a tumour is nothing but poisons which are securely locked up by the defence mechanism of the living body inside a thick membrane in order to protect the body from further deterioration. During biopsy the thick membrane is cut open, thus releasing the poisonous cancer cells through the rest of the body. But in the earlier condition prior to the biopsy, encased as the tumour was inside a thick membrane, such outflow of poison would not have been possible.1
K. Lakshmana Sarma and S. Swaminathan, two of the foremost Nature Cure practitioners in India, quote approvingly in their well known work an extract from the book How to Prevent and Gain Remission from Cancer authored by John H Tobe: "The only conclusive way to establish whether or not malignant tissue is present is by biopsy. However, biopsy requires cutting into the tumour which may result in releasing cancer cells throughout the body. For that reason we do not take a biopsy or conduct any surgical procedure.." .2
Natural hygiene vs medical science
Natural hygiene claims to be contrary to medical science and that the two systems are directly opposed to each other in philosophy and practice.
In "Natural Hygiene, Man's Pristine Way of Life", Dr. Herbert Shelton, the founder of the American Natural Hygiene Society (now known as the International Natural Hygiene Society  wrote about the conflicting ideas between Natural Hygiene and Medical Science. Others have also shared these views including Harvey Diamond who co-wrote the Fit for Life book series in the 1980's.
Natural hygiene claims that drugs and medicines are poisons to the human body and have no healing properties. Natural Hygiene maintains that drugs have the effect of masking symptoms or changing symptoms, but not for the better.
Natural hygiene practitioners acknowledge that in cases of emergency, such as stroke, heart attack or automobile accident, emergency medical science plays an important role.
Natural Hygiene vs naturopathy
The beliefs of natural hygiene and naturopathy are quite similar. Naturopathy developed from the water and nature cure in Europe during the 19th century. Natural hygiene developed from the water cure in America during the 19th century. Natural hygiene talks about blood toxemia while naturopathy talks about the accumulation of morbid matter.
However, Natural hygiene prohibits all use of drugs including herbal and homeopathic medicines. Natural hygiene's primary treatment method is fasting, and does not use any manipulative therapy, while Naturopathy uses both herbal and homeopathic medicines as well as the manipulative therapies of body work or massage therapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic.
- Christian vegetarianism
- Raw veganism
- Natural Hygiene, Man's Pristine Way of Life - by Herbert Shelton, Dr. Shelton's Health School, San Antonio, Texas, 1968.
- A collection of Hygienic Review articles - by Dr. Herbert Shelton.
- Toxemia Explained: The True Interpretation of the Cause of Disease - John Tilden, MD. Denver, Colorado, revised 1935.
- Fasting Can Save Your Life - by Herbert Shelton.
- Health For The Millions - by Herbert Shelton.
- The Hygienic Care Of Children - by Herbert Shelton.
- Orthotrophy Volume II - The Hygienic System - by Herbert Shelton.
- Orthotrophy Volume III - Fasting and Feeding - by Herbert Shelton.
- Fasting for Renewal of Life - by Herbert Shelton.
- Fit for Life - by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond ISBN 0-446-30015-2
- Fit for Life II - by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond ISBN 0-446-35875-4
- Fit for Life: A New Beginning - by Harvey Diamond ISBN 1-57566-718-5
- K. Lakshmana Sarma & S. Swaminathan : Speaking of Nature Cure - Regain, Retain and Improve Health the Drugless Way: Page 200-203 : First edition: 1993, Third reprint: 1998 (Sterling Paperbacks, New Delhi) ISBN 81-207-0632-3
- Ibid. Page 201
- International Natural Hygiene Society - Founded in 2003. The American Natural Hygiene Society was founded by Dr. Herbert Shelton, and existed 1948 - 2000.
- Soil and Health - Online books about Natural Hygiene.
- Super Nutrition & Superior Health - Online Natural Hygiene articles by Dr. Bass.
- The Quintessence of Natural Living - Online Natural Hygiene articles by Dr. Sidhwa.
- True North Health Articles - Online Natural Hygiene articles.
- Patient Letters to Dr. Goldberg - Online Natural Hygiene case stories & testimonials.
- Rawfoodhealth.co.uk A raw vegan website.
- Living Nutrition - A Natural Hygiene magazine.
- Transformation Institute - A Natural Hygiene Home Study Course.
- Rethinking Natural Hygiene by Ward Nicholson
- Raw Food Explained Course on Philosophy, Principles, and Practices of Natural Hygiene