Natural Hygiene Definition and Practice
In its widest definition, Natural Hygiene is the application of the principles of nature to the preservation and restoration of health. Applied to the sick, Natural Hygiene is the diagnosis and treatment of patients' suffering and restoring healthy life.
Patients are taught that health is a result of a simple fresh produce diet, securing an abundance of fresh air, plenty of sunshine, vigorous physical exercise, rest, and sleep. Natural Hygiene includes social aspects of health, and encourages the development of self-esteem and social skills, meaningful relationships, stress management techniques, and living a productive life. A program of fasting, restrictive diet and regimented lifestyle, the body is cleansed, invigorated, and restored to healthy action. Health relies upon one's total mode of living.
The History of Natural Hygiene
Sylvester Graham, Dr. Isaac Jennings, and Dr. R.T. Trall are noted for the birth of Natural Hygiene, spurred by the disillusionment of medical practices. The birth and perpetuation of the Natural Hygiene movement is about control over health choices and alternative methods to achieve health. This is their story.
Issac Jennings, M.D.
In the early 1800s Isaac Jennings, M.D. quietly started a revolution in health care when he noticed that basic lifestyle changes produced results. Simple measures of eating a healthy vegetarian diet, breathing plenty of fresh air, and drinking pure water in combination of sunshine, exercise, and plenty of sleep produced better results for his patients than the modern medical cures. He achieved great success substituting pills with placebos. Yale University conferred an honorary degree upon him in recognition of his unheard of success. When Jennings publicly announced years later in 1822 his approach, his medical brethren criticized him and dismissed his methods of health care.
Sylvester Graham, a preacher, recognized the wisdom of Dr. Jennings and brought the information across America through his lectures and writings. The Hygienic movement pushed forward with enthusiasm, because Graham lectured and produced Graham Journal of Health and Longevity. The Journal influenced the hygienic habits of the people. Everywhere the publication was distributed, decrease in disease was noticed.
R.T. Trall revolutionized modern medicine and formulated the basic principles of Natural Hygiene. Trall unified Natural Hygiene and water therapy into a philosophical whole of "hydropathy" and "hygeiotherapy." He advocated exercise, hygienic cooking with a proper diet, and the natural treatment of alleged disease. He defended the scientific basis of vegetarianism. He pointed out the true action of drugs and stimulants, revealed the true nature of disease, and argued that there was no such thing as a "cure," but rather a proper way of living.
Enthusiasm in the movement grew. In 1852 it is estimated that the two schools that taught hydropathy and hygeiotherapy outnumbered the practitioners of any of the medical schools -- allopathic, homeopathic, etc. -- in this country. Vigorous drives against the medical system lead to states repealing a number of laws. In reaction, judgment medical societies were formed. In 1909 the Flexnor Report closed down many of the institutes that taught Hygienic practices. Medical schools conferred the title Doctor of Medicine as a part of the move to create a monopoly over health care.
Dr. Herbert Shelton
In the early 1900s, Dr. Herbert Shelton rediscovered Hygiene. He worked tirelessly to distinguish "Natural Hygiene" accurately. Dr. Shelton brought Natural Hygiene to its peak. He wrote over 50 books on Natural Hygiene. He helped thousands of people recover their health. Because of his efforts, Natural Hygiene continues today.
In 1911 Herbert Shelton read Sylvester Graham and began his health career. He read Bernarr McFadden's Physical Culture magazine's many articles on fasting, weight training, and raw food. Herbert sought Trall's work in which he clearly outlines the stance of the 19th century hygienists. In 1919 Herbert attended McFadden's College of Physcultopathy and interned at a sanitarium where he received clinical experience in fasting. Dr. Shelton believed the simple truths taught by Natural Hygienists. He desired to inform the world of the simplicity of health through Natural Hygiene. He wanted people to be free of the inflictions of the medical industry and their drugs. Eventually, Dr. Shelton went to the American College of Chiropractic and Naturopathy. After his education he took on various doctoring positions. In 1927 Dr. Shelton opened his own hygienic practice. He was harassed by the Medical Men. He was the first to be jailed for practicing medicine without a license. Dr. Shelton opened seven health schools and each was shut down by the American Medical Association.
Throughout his career, Dr. Shelton supervised over 40,000 fasts that his patients undertook while under his care. Fasting was advocated by the Natural Hygienists in cases of acute and chronic illnesses as the quickest means of restoring one to a state of health by removing the toxic accumulations within the body. Despite his repeated jailings his hygienic practice continued to grow and he was respected and admired for his efforts. By 1932, Dr. Shelton lectured internationally with hundreds of people attending his events. Over the course of the next 40 years, Dr. Shelton continued to publish many books and run his health schools. He united the hygienists of the day by organizing the American Natural Hygiene Society.
The year of 1978 marks the beginning of the rise and fall of Natural Hygiene. Shelton takes in 49 year old Hal Conrad who is suffering from ulcerative colitis. The medical doctor he had seen ordered a colostomy and iliostomy, the cutting of the large intestine and stomach area, and wearing a sack to collect fecal matter for the remainder of his life. He died of a heart attack in the health school.
His wife sued for $890,000 on a charge of negligence. While in litigation over the next 2 years, business at the health school was at its peak. The School overflowed. Trailers were brought in to accommodate the many patients seeking care under Dr. Shelton. In 1980, Dr. Shelton's long-time assistant Dr. Vetrano left to open her own health facility.
The courts ruled against both Dr. Shelton and Dr. Vetrano in 1983. Required to pay the $890,000 to Hal Conrad's wife, both Dr. Shelton and Dr. Vetrano were bankrupted. Dr. Shelton continued to write publications and work on his projects until his death in 1985. The American Natural Hygiene Society still exists and publishes a select few of Dr. Shelton's books. It consists of 25 primary care physicians which practice Natural Hygiene across the world. I am proud to say I am one of them.
Dr. Douglas Graham and Dr. Vetrano founded the Healthful Living International Society in 1999. The Healthful Living International Society is dedicated to the teachings of Dr. Shelton and the principles set forth in Natural Hygiene. Dr. Shelton believed that one day the public would recognize the inability of the medical profession to "cure" people with "miracle drugs" and would awaken to find truths that have long been denied them.