How did we get here?
Hippocrates It was Hippocrates, nearly 2400 years ago, who put forth the most influential ideas about human health and the creating and preserving of it. His observations and reasoning have formed the basic underpinnings of modern medicine, yet his approaches to actual medical conditions would be defined today as “alternative.” Hippocrates espoused such “alternative” ideas as:
· The natural healing power of the human body.· The importance of eating wholesome unadulterated foods.· The effect of thoughts and feelings on the health of the body.
Yet, as time wore on, the teachings of Hippocrates were forgotten, with men of medicine reverting to dogmatic and fatalistic approaches to disease, using astrology, numerology and religious superstitions. Disease prevention and even daily hygiene were dismissed.
Enter Paracelsus, in the first half of the 16th Century, who attacked the dogmatic belief of his modern doctors that the human body is controlled exclusively by the stars and the planets. He insisted upon the right to discover latent powers of nature by daring to use his faculties of observation and imagination. He stressed the healing power of nature, and raged against modern methods, such as wound treatment that prevented natural drainage of bodily fluids.
Paracelsus was particularly interested in the role earth elements–metals and minerals–played in the human body. He was the first to connect goiter with lead in drinking water. He correctly maintained that miner’s disease (silicosis) resulted from inhaling metal vapors. Doctors and clerics at the time maintained that miner’s disease was a punishment for sins.
As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, and industrialization became the new cornucopia, technology leapt forward in the areas of mass production and building conveniences, exporting its promise of riches and luxury to America. As big factories were built, and cities arose, people worked and lived in close proximity. Efficiency for profit had become the battle cry of the new corporation, yet the medical establishment responsible for the health of the workers were still stuck in the Middle Ages. The concept of hygiene was considered heretical as late as the 1850′s, until such humanitarians as Florence Nightingale put forth such bold yet sensible statements as: “The specific disease doctrine is the grand refuge of weak, uncultured, unstable minds, such as now rule in the medical profession. There are no specific diseases; there are specific disease conditions,” referring to overcrowding, filth, and lack of sunshine and fresh air in hospitals.
Soon the commercialization of chemical treatments for “specific disease conditions” ran full-steam ahead into the present day. The seemingly idealistic propositions of Hippocrates just aren’t profitable to industrialized medicine, and the power of profit is a heady temptation to young graduating medical students.
With the advent of fast and convenient global communications and transportation–not to mention the Internet–the Real Medicine of Hippocrates, Paracelsus and Florence Nightingale is making more and more common sense to the general public, despite apparently endless deep pockets of the drug corporation’s media blitzes. There is hope for Human Health on Planet Earth, and in honor of this Hope, we salute those who created it.
Pioneers of the North American Natural Health Movement
Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)
Sylvester Graham shocked the Victorian society of his day by preaching a vegetarian lifestyle. In lectures and in his Treatise on Bread and Breadmaking (1837), Graham extolled the virtues of bulk matter in food, over a hundred years before the importance of dietary fiber became widely recognized. His original “Graham Bread” was the centerpiece of a vegetarian diet created with the intent of suppressing carnal urges, which he believed were the source of many maladies.
John H. Tilden (1851-1940)
With his theory of toxemia, or infectious bacteria, John Tilden recognized the role of stress in causing disease long before this became an accepted idea. Tilden practiced medicine for years before losing faith in drugs and searching for a new understanding of disease. He observed that health is impaired when a person’s nervous energy becomes dissipated and the body is no longer able to properly eliminate the toxic by-products of metabolism. The resulting state of self-intoxication, or toxemia, was regarded by Tilden as the single underlying cause of impaired health.
John Harvey Kellogg (1855-1946)John Harvey Kellogg was an important promoter of vegetarianism and founder of the Battle Creek health center. He is the author of the most comprehensive American textbook on hydrotherapy, Rational Hydrotherapy. Kellogg was a leading member of the American Medical Association, but he cured tuberculosis patients with a natural foods vegetarian diet, water, fresh air and sunshine, enraging the Association. Kellogg’s brother, Will, developed shredded wheat, cornflakes, granola biscuits and other health foods.
Henry Lindlahr (1862-1924)
Henry Lindlahr, one of the most successful early American nature doctors, was a rich, corpulent Montana business tycoon in his mid-thirties when he was diagnosed with incurable diabetes and advised by physicians to prepare for his death. Instead, inspired by The New Science of Healing by Louis Kuhne and a visit to a Kneipp clinic in his native Germany, Lindlahr began to apply natural healing methods to himself. Lindlahr believed that chronic disease was caused by the accumulation of waste matter and poisons in the body, and that acute disease was nature’s way of cleansing the body.
Arnold Ehret (1866-1922)As a young man, he suffered from Bright’s disease, the principal symptoms being mucus and albumin in the urine. In his search for a cure, Ehret traveled through Europe and Africa studying vegetarianism, naturopathy, medicine, and physiology. While in North Africa, eating primarily fruits, and fasting, he regained his vitality. Ehret wrote The Mucusless Diet Health System and The Story of My Life. Ehret believed that the goal of his therapy is to get rid of wastes by eating foods that do not cause obstruction and by fasting occasionally.
William Howard Hay (1866-1940)
The American medical doctor Howard Hay turned to natural medicine when he became very ill with Bright’s disease and cured himself by changing his diet. He ate food only in its natural form and only as much as necessary. He also found it important to respect what he called the immutable laws of chemistry, combining foods that had compatible digestive chemistry. The Hay Diet became the basis of Hay’s therapy. He wrote A New Health Era, and How To Always Be Well. He taught that an organ needs healthy cells to function, and that healthy cells can only be built up through proper nutrition.
Benedict Lust (1872-1945)
In his twenties, Lust went to New York City to seek his fortune and contracted serious tuberculosis. Lust returned to his native Germany to die. There, he managed to visit Father Sebastian Kneipp, and after submitting to Kneipp’s hydrotherapy, Lust was cured in eight months. Although Lust sought to diffuse some of the hostility of mainstream doctors by studying medicine, he was brought to court countless times. It was in this context of persecution that the term “naturopathy” was adopted to designate the science of natural healing in the United States.
Dr. Norman Walker (1867-1985)
Norman Walker popularized fresh vegetable and fruit juices in the US and Canada. The English-born businessman discovered the value of vegetable juices while recovering from a breakdown in a peasant house in the French countryside. Watching the woman in the kitchen peel carrots, he noticed their moistness under the peel. He decided to try grinding them, and had his first cup of carrot juice. When he recovered, Walker moved to Long Beach, California. With a medical doctor, he opened a juice bar and offered home delivery service. From 1910 to 1930, they devised dozens of fresh juice formulas for specific conditions. Walker believed colon cleansing with fresh juices was the key to good health. Walker designed his own juicer, the Norwalk, in two parts–a grinder to grind the vegetables and a press to extract the juice. He lived to be 119 years old, and gave his fresh juices credit for his long, healthy life.
Linus Pauling (1902-1994)
Linus Pauling was one of this century’s great scientists, the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel prizes. In the late 1960s, Pauling became interested in nutrition and the role of vitamins. He began using Vitamin C in 1966, and in 1970, he published his findings on the healing powers of Vitamin C, in Vitamin C and the Common Cold. It was immediately accepted by lay readers, but scorned or ignored by the medical community. In 1986, he published How to Live Longer and Feel Better, a scathing indictment of the health care establishment which he dubbed “the sickness industry.” Pauling was the honorary president of the American Orthomolecular Medical Association, whose members promote the use of conventional medical therapies in conjunction with vitamin supplements and nutritional therapy. He also founded the Linus Pauling Institute in Corvallis, Oregon.
Paul C. Bragg (1881-1976)
Paul Bragg was an energetic promoter of natural health and nutrition through health crusades, books, tapes, radio, TV and personal appearances. He was perhaps best known for his popularization of the beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar. Crippled by tuberculosis as a teenager, Bragg developed an eating, breathing, and exercise program of running, swimming, biking and weight training to rebuild his body. Bragg opened the first health food store in the US, and inspired followers to do the same. He pioneered the nationwide availability of herb teas, health beverages, seven-grain cereals and crackers, health cosmetics, health candies, vitamins and minerals. He broadcast radio health programs from Hollywood and a TV show called “Health and Happiness.” With his daughter Patricia Bragg, he ran the Longer Life, Health and Happiness Club in Hawaii. He died before his time at the age of 95 in a body-surfing accident.
Adelle Davis (1904-1974)
During her more than forty years as a consulting nutritionist and author of the best selling “Let’s…” series of books on diet and health, Adelle Davis was a vociferous and relentless critic of North American eating habits. She also alleged a conspiracy among food processors, chemical and drug companies, and the government which promoted nutritional impoverishment. Ahead of her time again, she advised against giving antibiotics to children (or anyone) for routine, non-life-threatening illnesses. Davis also chided professional dieticians for asserting that white flour is just as nutritious as whole grain.
Dr. John R. Christopher (1909-1983)
During World War II, Christopher became the US Army’s only practicing herbalist. As a conscientious objector, he was placed in charge of a medical dispensary at Fort Lewis. After he cured a case of “incurable” impetigo with a black-walnut tincture, he was allowed access to the medical laboratory. He developed his first herbal formulas in this laboratory. After the war, Christopher studied herbology at the Dominion Herbal College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and began a herbal practice in Olympia, Washington, before moving back to Salt Lake City. His herbal formulas are now marketed under the widely recognized labels Nature’s Way and Nature’s Herbs.
Ann Wigmore (1909-1994)
Ann Wigmore is best known for her promotion of the health value of wheatgrass. Born in Lithuania in 1909, she was raised by her grandmother, who introduced her to herbal cures. After she joined her parents in the U.S., Wigmore surmounted two personal crises which showed her that natural healing was to be her mission. First, she managed to cure a patient’s crushed leg which was to be amputated by applying her knowledge of the healing power of grasses, chlorophyll-rich weeds and flowers. Then, at age fifty, she cured herself of colon cancer using the same methods. Wigmore studied homeopathy and naturopathy at the Anglo-American Institute of Drugless Therapy in London, England. In 1963, she opened America’s first holistic health center, the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, later renamed the Ann Wigmore Foundation. Wigmore was especially aware of the health-building importance of enzymes available in raw foods, and that is why cooked foods are absent from her program.
The Natural healing explosion…As the basic concepts of “natural healing” are disseminated and accepted by consumers, the drug treatment approaches to specific diseases begins to make less and less sense to all but the least interested. The tenets of self-treatment through health responsibility, positive attitudes about the healing power of the body, as well as hope, confidence, and the striving for a vibrant life, are all part of the Natural Healing modality.
Taking responsibility for one’s own health is so much more rewarding than handing it over to medical drug therapists, and millions of success cases attest to the effectiveness of doing so. Now, more than ever, we all have access to healing and health naturally!