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The History of Natural  Hygiene


Natural Hygiene is a movement dedicated to health by natural means. The word hygiene is misunderstood to mean mere cleanliness -but it is much more. The word hygiene comes from Hygiea, the greek goddess of health. According to Greek Mythology, Aesclepius fathered many children through his marriage with Epione ( which in Greek means 'soothing' and who was known as a healer). His daughters were Hygeia and Panacea. 


Hygiea was the goddess of health and welfare with whom the word 'hygiene' originates. Hygeia is usually depicted with a serpent drinking from a cup held in her hand. This has become the internationally recognized symbol of pharmacy, where the bowl represents medicine and the snake potency. Hygeia is associated with the maintenance of health, specializing in the prevention of disease. She takes care of healthy people and assists them in staying well. This approach to medicine can be traced back to the Yellow Emperor of China, who in the 4th century BC wrote the "Classic of Internal Medicine." The Emperor believed that common sense, preventative practices, and an outlook in harmony with nature would allow people to live to be 100 years old and remain active until the end of their lives.


Panacea specialized in the knowledge of medications extracted from plants and the earth and their effects on the body. Panacea was representative of the curative philosophy of medicine that is so widely accepted today. Thus, Panacea and Hygeia represented two radically different, yet complementary, approaches to medicine. These two medical attitudes have influenced many cultures and many Old Testament rules of behaviour, such as sanitation, diet, and the purity of mental and physical forms as practised by many all over the world. We prefer the preventative or Hygienic approach as the first option

Origins of Natural Hygiene


Dr Russell Trall, who lived in the 18th century in the USA, once had an interesting experience. He was called to attend a girl in a faraway location, who was suffering from high fever. Before he left for the girl’s house, his servant was supposed to load the saddlebags of his horse with the medicines, but somehow he forgot to do it. When Dr Trall reached the girl's house after a long ride - he found he had no medicine!  Rather than go back empty-handed, he decided to give the parents some psychological support. He went into the kitchen, made some pills of salt, sugar and flour with water and told the parents - "Let this girl rest in bed - eat nothing - and only take this pill every few hours". He then left, planning to return the next day with his medicines, to take care of the problem


When he came back the next day he found to his amazement that the girl was much better and on the way to recovery. When she recovered fully, Dr Trall started wondering how this happened. If the girl could recover without medicine, what was the point of the medicine at all? So he began experimenting with other patients, giving them sugar and salt pills and strict instructions to rest and fast (eat nothing). His patients invariably grew better while those of his colleagues, who were drugged, sometimes recovered and sometimes not. He became famous – as the doctor without the saddlebags. But ultimately he felt he should reveal the truth - that he was not drugging at all and people were getting cured by the body's self-healing capacity.


Unfortunately when he did that he was denounced as a quack. But he carried on his practice and was the originator of the Natural hygiene movement - where he laid down the factors of health, how to preserve it and how to recover it if you fall ill.


Many other doctors followed in his footsteps. Dr Tilden was one of them who wrote this classic


Dr Graham was another pioneer in this field


Herbert M. Shelton (1895–1985) was a prominent pacifist, Naturopathic Doctor, and champion of the original Natural Hygiene ideas from the 1830s to 1970s. Despite ongoing legal battles with the medical field throughout his career which led to lawsuits, financial ruin, fines, and imprisonment, he tirelessly devoted his entire life to the cause of Natural Hygiene.  He wrote many books and other teaching materials to bring Natural Hygiene to the public. He opened schools in Natural Hygiene and founded the American Society of Natural Hygienists. Shelton had many admirers, some saw him as a great inspirational leader and a natural healer. Mahatma Gandhi is said to have relied on Dr Shelton's writing on fasting, and before the outbreak of World War II had invited Dr Shelton to visit him in India. Gandhi had referred to Volume III of The Hygienic System throughout his fasting career.


You can read more about Natural Hygiene here

Basic Principles of Natural Hygiene


The human body has basic physical, physiological, emotional, spiritual needs - about19 have been identified - such as proper food, sunshine, rest, sleep, exercise, water, emotional poise, social gathering etc.  These needs have to be supplied at the appropriate time in the appropriate amounts. If this is done, the human body takes care of itself and maintains itself in excellent health. If these needs are not supplied or supplied in excess, or if other things that are not required are put into the body, sickness is the eventual result.


The human body is self-preserving, self-defensive and self-healing. In case of a problem, the body is largely capable of healing itself. All it needs from us is to stop the cause of the problem, rest (go to bed) and preferably stop eating (fast). The body will use the energy saved from not having to digest food, for the healing process.


The body processes are very complex. It is very difficult for us to intervene and be of help to the body. In most cases, our intervention only results in further problems. So the best thing is to leave the body "intelligently alone" to handle its problems.


Only in certain life-threatening cases, or in case of accident, trauma etc it is possible to do something (via emergency medication, surgery etc) to help the body. In acute and chronic sickness, the body is best left to deal with the problem


The body (or the consciousness within the body) is supremely intelligent and always makes the best choice and best decision under all circumstances. We are best served by trusting the body's wisdom and not interfering with it.


We should always listen to the body. It gives us clear signals of what it wants and what it does not want. For example, tiredness means it needs sleep, hunger - food, thirst - water. A coughing fit after your first smoke indicates it does not want tobacco. We have to heed the signals of the body at all times.


An unhealthy diet is the main reason for sickness. By eating a diet high in natural, whole, raw foods (at least 50%) we can avoid most illnesses. Cooked food should be minimised and processed food avoided altogether.


The other factors of health have to be provided in the right measures Poison habits (smoking, drinking, drugs) should be given up.

Difference between Natural Hygiene and Alternative Medicine


Natural Hygiene stands unique amongst all other therapies and healing sciences in that it alone insists that there is no such thing as a cure - only self-healing. All other therapies try to deal with the symptoms using this therapy or that. Herbs, Magnets, Needles, lotions, potions, light, heat, mud etc.  In Natural Hygiene there is no therapy, no treatment. Natural hygiene does not try to treat symptoms - it is the only system that insists on finding out the cause of the disease and addressing that.


Natural Hygiene and Naturopathy

Although these terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. "Pathy" means "disease"  Naturopathy means using natural ways to deal with the disease.  This includes a proper diet, massage and mud baths, water baths etc.   Pure Natural Hygiene does not recognise all these treatments - only adjusting the diet, sunbaths are recognized.

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