Natural hygiene

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Natural hygiene (or orthopathy) is an alternative to medicine that states the human body can and will heal itself if the causes of disease are removed. 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 [1] [2]:

  • That the human body contains the power to heal itself (without medicine).
  • That disease exists when the body is prevented from healing itself.
  • That the primary causes of disease are toxemia, stress, over working, over eating, taking unhealthy substances, etc.
  • That germs, bacteria, and viruses are not the primary cause of disease.
  • That medicines are poisons to the human body and are harmful.
  • That vaccinations are not effective, not safe and damage the immune system.
  • That fasting causes the body's metabolism to favour autocannibalism, helping to eliminate faulty cells and toxins, and does not result in the same nutritional problems that an imbalanced diet results in. Because it also reduces toxin intake to zero, the nett effect is to speed recovery from a disease state.

Natural hygiene claims that people get well by removing the causes of disease, and allowing the body to eliminate toxins via various forms of catarrh. It is exactly these eliminative remedial actions taken automatically by the organism, which natural hygienists such as Herbert Shelton have claimed are mistaken by medical practitioners for the defining symptoms of disease.

Shelton claimed that prescription of symptom-suppressive medicines, or anti-biotics, further toxifies the organism, and only suppresses and delays the "symptoms", which natural hygiene claims are in fact the remedial efforts of the organism, while adding to the toxic load which needs eliminating, since the medicines themselves must additionally be eliminated by the already-toxically-loaded body.

As in all therapeutic systems, determining the true cause of a disease is a vital part of Natural Hygiene. Proponents (eg Shelton writing in the first half of the 20th century) have claimed that medical doctors frequently 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.

A principal factor in disease is "enervation", or stress, which creates the pre-conditions for disease, subsequently causing the organism to fall susceptible to toxins which have accumulated, and resulting perhaps in opportunistic infection by bacteria or virus which would normally be prevented from blooming, by the immune system.

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.

In History of Natural Hygiene and Principles of Natural Hygiene, Herbert M. Shelton claims that the founders of natural hygiene were Dr's Isaac Jennings (calling his own system of medication "Orthopathy") , Russell Trall, John Tilden, and Rev. Sylvester Graham.

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; build up toxins in the blood. Enervation (i.e., stress/tension; wasted nerve-energy ) is claimed to stop toxins from being eliminated from your blood.

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 begins to break down even cancerous tissues and eliminate them. Natural hygiene theories rely on fasting as treatment for toxemia, and fasts of over a month have been claimed to be beneficial, in cases of particular individuals.

Advocates say that attempting to do a long fast (5 days or more) without the supervision of a natural hygiene practitioner is not recommended. Certain individuals might be capable of more depending on age and health. Others may not be ready for even 1 day if there are complicating health issues. Furthermore, they do not recommend fasting for the treatment of diabetes, cancer of the kidneys, cancer of the liver and severe anemia.[citation needed]

For the purposes of natural hygiene, fasting means eating nothing, drinking only distilled water and getting lots of rest.

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.[citation needed]

Cancer and biopsy in nature cure

According to some practitioners of Nature Cure, biopsy is not desirable even as a test to find out whether a tumour is benign or malignant. 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 This view, however, has been disputed[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 versus medicine

Natural hygiene claims to be contrary to medicine 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, one of the founders of the American Natural Hygiene Society (now known as the International Natural Hygiene Society [3]) 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.[citation needed]

Natural hygiene practitioners acknowledge that in cases of emergency, such as stroke, heart attack or automobile accident, emergency medical science plays an important role.[citation needed]

Natural hygiene versus naturopathy

The core beliefs of natural hygiene and naturopathy are quite similar. Naturopathy developed from the water and nature cure in Europe and America during the 19th century, but quickly evolved to include botanical, homeopathic and physical modalities (ex: massage, chiropractic) as well as other systems (ex: traditional asian medicine and accupuncture). In contrast, Natural hygiene prohibits all use of physical manipulations or drugs, including herbal and homeopathic medicines.

See also


  • 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


  1. 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
  2. Ibid. Page 201
  1. Peter Moran, MB, BS, BSc(Med), FRACS, FRCS(Eng) (Revised April 16, 2007). "Do Biopsies or Surgical Treatment Spread Cancer?". Cancer Treatment Watch. Retrieved May 3, 2007. Check date values in: |date= (help)

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