... with you on your journey
True Health Freedom
A large and thorough document describing Natural Hygiene and other non-intrusive approaches to health.
Health care for everyone! Relief from disease and suffering!
This is the rallying cry of today, as it was yesterday and will be in the foreseeable future.
Man has experimented with countless techniques, therapies and remedies in order to alleviate his pains.....and we are still looking. Is the answer now in sight? Are we closing in on the panacea of health?
Let us probe deeply and discover marvelous treasures....
Shelton relentlessly taught and promoted a practical, sensible and extremely effective system of achieving overall human health and happiness - Natural Hygiene
Dr. Herbert Shelton (1895-1985) was an iconoclast and rebel health pioneer. Standing on the shoulders of prior progressive and independent thinkers, Shelton relentlessly taught and promoted a practical, sensible and extremely effective system of achieving overall human health and happiness - Natural Hygiene. The name comes from two words: Natural - in harmony with Nature, and Hygiene - the science of good health.
Many of the principles of this natural science of human health can be traced far back into history, but modern thinking, theorizing and codification into a wholistic, grand paradigm began in the United States of America in 1822 through the work of Dr. Isaac Jennings, M.D. The work was greatly expounded upon by Dr. R.T.Trall, M.D. around 1862, and still further by Dr. J.H.Tilden, M.D. at the turn of the century.
Shelton was by far the most prolific thinker and writer on the subject, and he was steadfast in promoting self-reliance. Examining a few philosophical tidbits from his article "Principles of Natural Hygiene"(1) allows us to cut right to the chase:
Natural Hygiene is that branch of biology which investigates and applies the conditions upon which life and health depend, and the means by which all health is sustained in all its virtue and purity, and restored when it has been lost......Natural Hygiene is not a system of therapeutics. It professes to build health in all forms of diseased states by the employment of hygienic agents alone and without the employment of poisons or resort to enervating palliatives or therapies of any nature. In the class of hygienic agencies can be included only the actual necessities of life - food, air, water, sunlight, rest, sleep, relaxation, exercise, play, warmth, cleanliness, hope, faith, courage - and the means of securing these. Constructive surgery forms the only non-hygienic measure endorsed by the Natural Hygienist.
The truth should be self-evident that any method or system that destroys the independence and autonomy of the individual and makes one forever dependent upon another person or class of people is not natural. Any system that of itself creates a privileged class who can, by law or otherwise, lord it over their fellow people destroys true freedom and personal autonomy. Any system that teaches the sick that they can get well only through the exercise of the skill of someone else, or through the operation of something else, and that they remain alive only through the tender mercies of the privileged class, has no place in Nature's scheme of things, and the sooner it is abolished, the better will humankind be. It was no more a part of the original scheme of things that people should be a supplicate at the feet of the healers than that lions or cod-fish should be. It matters not whether a person is dependent on the physician, the osteopath, the chiropractor or the psychoanalyst, that person is a slave to that class upon which one depends. Therapeutics makes slaves of men and women. This is an evil and cannot endure. Natural Hygiene uses no treatments.....none. A hygienist is a guide, a teacher. I'm not a treatment peddler. I do not treat symptoms. We always first look for the cause. The hygienist does not use the word cure.
The healing principle is always in the living system itself. All living organisms are self-constructing, self-defending and self-repairing. Teach men and women to prevent disease by avoiding its causes rather than attempt to cure it by administering the causes of other diseases [drugs] - then health and happiness will abound everywhere. We are convinced that mankind can be educated in correct principles and trained in right practices so that sickness will cease to trouble us. It is our business to teach people how to prevent disease and not merely how to take care of themselves when ill. I am well aware of the revolutionary character of the principles I have presented.....but I am convinced that the physical salvation of the human race depends upon their acceptance.
These statements by the late Dr. Shelton reflect his search for truth and his understanding that humanity is born to be free and autonomous; that the power and intelligence that created a fully mature human from a microscopic fertilized ovum is the same power that will maintain us in excellent health and well-being. All it takes is some basic education in the natural laws that govern us, the Earth, the Universe.
All it takes is some basic education in the natural laws that govern us, the Earth, the Universe.
More recently, Dr. Thomas Hanna (1928-1990), a philosopher, writer and researcher, spent much of his time studying and teaching in the area of somatic education. He, like Shelton, stood on the shoulders of great visionaries that came before him: F. Matthias Alexander (creator of the Alexander Method), Moshe Feldenkrais and others. Likewise, he synthesized and improved upon the works of these predecessors. Combining insights gathered from neurology, physiology and sensory education, Hanna created a body awareness and movement improvement technique he called "Somatics".
Hanna: "Underneath I have enormous anger because I see so many people abused."
In an interview entitled Mind Over Movement(2), Hanna put it like this:
My own interest, first of all, for myself, and second of all for any person I deal with, is to do anything I can to inculcate freedom. Freedom, independence and autonomy is what human life is all about. This is what we grow up to become - totally autonomous, self-determining, self-balancing, self-healing, self-regulating, self-correcting. We're magnificent creatures for becoming just that. Usually we don't come off being so. In various ways - emotionally, psychologically, physically - we get enslaved. And we don't have either the confidence or the ability to choose and truly conduct our own affairs and take care of ourselves. The truly burning and major issue of the 20th century - how can we become more autonomous human beings - rather than depending on authoritarian experts who give advice on everything.
The whole thing is to let people get a taste of freedom; for self-reliance. You've got to be competent and confident enough to be independent and autonomous because freedom means that you're capable of being self-responsible. The human life has no other aim, as far as I can see than for human beings to become self-regulating and self-directing. Human freedom is at the heart of all issues. It's the only issue there is of human and moral philosophy: how can you help people become more free?
What I do is education.....not therapy. My main concern is in knowledge that frees. We do things in one or two sessions and the problem is gone. And they (the clients) are utterly in command and aware of what went on. Thoughtful medical people know the limitations of medicine. Arrogant ones are dangerous.....the excruciating unhappiness is to know what I know and realize it's going to take years to get these ideas across to the establishment of traditional thinking that has a hard time absorbing them. The impatience that I feel is with physicians who damage and hurt people and are arrogant about it. Underneath I have enormous anger because I see so many people abused.....I've got certain talents, certain understandings; it's in some sense my personal obligation to myself and other human beings to help them in any way I can. It has nothing to do with power. It has to do with loving people; being concerned about the human condition.
Hanna's love of freedom permeated all his work; he understood that much of the misery of humanity stemmed from a lack of self-responsibility, which was mostly due to a lack of education. To chip away at this wall of ignorance was his primary mission.
[Author's note: The goal of this article is to reintroduce into the realm of true health care some age old wisdom, seen through contemporary eyes. That wisdom is simply this:
Daily practice of their precepts of Natural Hygiene, Somatics, and the Alexander Method will enable you to live a full, joyous and healthy life for all of your years. Embracing the philosophy and science will fortify your mind with the knowledge necessary to carry on through good times and bad.]
The science of Natural Hygiene is about enhancing physical, emotional and mental well-being through education. It provides us with a simple, straightforward system for regaining and maintaining superb human health and beauty. Hygiene is personally empowering and liberating. It teaches independence and rational action. It banishes fear and ignorance regarding human health and how to keep it. Ultimately it is about freedom.
Hygiene is personally empowering and liberating. .. It banishes fear and ignorance regarding human health and how to keep it.
The principles of Natural Hygiene, to be universally true, must reflect and harmonize with Natural Law. Just what is natural law? Natural law is
"Law which so necessarily agrees with the nature and state of man, that without observing its maxims, the peace and happiness of a society can never be created or preserved. Knowledge of natural law may be attained merely by the light of reason; from the facts, and of their essential agreeableness with the constitution of human nature."(3)
These are profound words. Everyone wants peace and happiness in our society. And we each want to experience it in our lifetime. To create this reality, as an individual and as a society, we need to learn about natural law and how to observe its maxims. We need to somatically experience how to realistically apply it to our lives.
..we need to learn about natural law and how to observe
In 1925, Shelton detailed what he considered basic physical laws that governed the orderly processes of life in his monumental work Human Life - Its Philosophy and Laws(4):
Life's Great Law: Every living cell of the organized body is endowed with an instinct of self-preservation, sustained by an inherent force in the organism called "vital force," "life force," or "nerve energy." The success of each living organism - whether it be simple or complex - is directly proportional to the amount of its life force and inversely proportional to the degree of its activity.
The Law Of Order: The living organism is self-constructing, self-maintaining, self-directing, self-repairing, self-defending and self-healing.
The Law Of Action: Whenever action occurs in the living organism, as the result of extraneous influences, the action must be ascribed to the living thing which has the power of action - not to the dead thing whose leading characteristic is inertia.
The Law Of Power: The power employed, and consequently expended, in any vital or medicinal action is vital power; that is, power from within - not from without.
The Law Of Distribution: The power of the body, whether that power is great or little, is distributed in a manner proportionate to the importance and needs of the various organs and tissues of the body.
The Law Of Autolysis or The Law Of Conservation: Whenever nutritive absence is affected, the living organism's reserves are conserved and economized: living structures are autolyzed (broken down) in the inverse order of their usefulness, while toxic substances are being eliminated. This Law refers to the state of fasting in humans.
The Law Of Limitation: Whenever and wherever the expenditure of vital power has advanced so far that a fatal exhaustion is imminent, a check is put upon the unnecessary expenditure of power; at that point the organism rebels against the further use of even an accustomed stimulant.
The Law Of Special Economy: The vital organism, under favorable conditions, stores up all excess of vital funds above the current expenditures as a "reserve fund" to be employed in time of special need.
The Law Of Vital Accommodation: The response of the organism to external stimuli is an instinctive one, based upon a self-preservative instinct which adapts or accommodates itself to whatever influence it cannot control or destroy.
The Law Of Stimulation or Dual Effect: Whenever a toxic or irritating agent is brought to bear upon the living organism, the body puts forth vital resistance - which manifests itself in an action at once accelerated, but also impaired. This resistance diminishes the bodily power precisely to the degree to which it accelerates action. The increased action is caused by the extra expenditure of vital power called out, not supplied, by the stimulatory process. In consequence, the available supply of power is diminished by this amount.
The Law Of Repose or The Law Of Compensation: Whenever action in the body has expended the substance and available energy of the body, rest is induced in order to replenish the body's substance and energy.
The Law Of Selective Elimination: All injurious substances which gain admittance by any means into the living organism are counteracted, neutralized and expelled as fully as the bodily nerve energy supplies allow by such means and through such channels as will produce the least amount of harm to living structure.
The Law Of Utilization: The normal elements and materials of life are all that the living organism is ever capable of constructively utilizing, whether it is well or sick: no substance or process that is not a normal factor/element in physiology can be of any value in the structure of the living organism. That which is unusable in a state of health is equally unusable in a state of illness.
The Law Of Quality Selection: When the quality of nutriment being received by the living organism is higher than that of the present living tissue, the organism will discard lower-grade cells to make room for appropriating the superior materials into new and healthy tissue.
The Law Of Minimum: The development of living organisms is regulated by the supply of that element or factor which is least abundantly provided or utilized. The element or factor in shortest supply determines the amount of development.
The Law Of Development: The development of all or any parts of the living organism is measured in direct proportion to the amount of vital forces and nutritive materials which are directed to it and brought to bear upon it.
These Natural Laws of Life have been in operation since life on Earth began. The maximum expression of health proceeds from living in tune with these laws. We may debate the finer points; nevertheless, we are all subject to the causes and effects that have been elaborated.
If we agree that it is true that superb health springs naturally from obedience to Nature's Laws, and we then compare that truth to conventional wisdom sanctioned by the present legalized health care system in the United States and most of the world, we see that two distinct paradigms (points of view) exist:
Newtonian/Descartes Mind/body split; reductionistic; only 3rd person/objective view is valid; the body is at the mercy of simple physical laws; the body's inner intelligence frequently makes mistakes and must be "corrected" by employing external force, directly or indirectly, through the means of one of the thousands of therapies that exist.
Somatic/Quantum Physical Mind/Body/Spirit integrated and unified; wholistic; 1st and 3rd subjective and objective viewpoints together are valid (neither is complete without the other); the body works with and within physical laws; the body's inner intelligence is always right and acts appropriately for the context within which it must function. Once we intuitively realize that the body is always striving toward health, and that we sabotage this process by deleterious actions, emotions and environments/situations that we put ourselves in (context), we can then take rational steps to correct the context, instead of wasting precious time and energy on further abnormal "therapies".
.. and 10% of all deaths are physician-caused.
The disastrous results of "helpful therapeutic intervention" attempted strictly through the paradigm of 3rd person objective classical science are obvious all around us. Annual statistics on the health of the American people from 1990 show that 95% past the age of four have some degree of atherosclerosis, 95% cannot pass a minimum physical fitness test, 33% will have cancer - 75% of these will die of it, 31 million have arthritis, 81 million are obese, 80 million suffer allergies, at least 28 million have high blood pressure, 12 million asthmatics, 160 million backache and headache sufferers, 200 million frequent constipation and indigestion problems, 1000 million colds a year, 1250 million visits to physicians, emergency rooms and outpatient clinics, and 10% of all deaths are physician-caused.
The general concensus is that 80% of human disease cannot be cured by medicine, 10% can be cured by medicine, and the other 10% is caused by medical intervention! Mind-boggling numbers to say the least!
Is all this sickness inevitable? Is this much suffering normal? I dare say not!
Is all this sickness inevitable? Is this much suffering normal? I dare say not! Observing life within natural surroundings, we notice that all wild animals are born, live healthfully, and then die according to natural patterns and genetic capabilities.
Throughout their lives they remain healthy and agile. If they survive into "old age", they will die a natural death wherein all body organ systems more or less cease functioning together. I believe humans should live out our whole lives being just as agile, healthy and happy.
I will only deal with the application of natural law as it applies to our health. Keep in mind that Natural Laws fundamentally apply to all areas of our lives - government, money, economics, social tranquillity, agriculture, environment and so on. Once we grasp this natural order in all things, answers to most of society's and humanity's problems become clear.
I believe humans should live out our whole lives being
just as agile, healthy and happy.
The timeless philosophy and platform of Natural Hygiene is rock-steady; it does not rest on shifting sands; it does not change directions like the wind. As we progress in our understanding of the wonderful and intricate workings of Nature and as we slowly come full circle toward embracing and protecting this Earth which makes our lives possible, we will come to cherish these eternal truths.
Shelton assembled some of these planks of the Hygienic platform in Human Life - Its Philosophy and Laws(5) from various writings of previous hygienic visionaries through the years, including but not limited to such authors as Isaac Jennings, Sylvester Graham, Russell Trall, Harriet Austin, John Tilden, Edward Dewey, and Susanna Dodds.
The timeless philosophy and platform of Natural Hygiene is rock-steady .. it does not change directions like the wind.
T. C. Fry masterfully put them all together as follows:
Natural Hygiene holds that life should be meaningful and filled with beauty, goodness and happiness.
Natural Hygiene holds that humans are inherently good, righteous and virtuous, and that their exalted character will be realized under ideal life conditions.
Natural Hygiene holds that superlative well-being is normal to human existence and necessary to the realization of the highest human ideals.
Natural Hygiene holds that supreme human excellence can best be realized in those who embrace those precepts and practices which are productive of well-being.
Natural Hygiene, which encompasses all that bears upon human well-being, constitutes the best way to realize the highest possible order of human existence.
Natural Hygiene is in harmony with nature, in accordance with the principles of vital existence, correct in science, sound in philosophy and ethics, in agreement with common sense, successful in practice and a blessing to mankind.
Natural Hygiene recognizes that the human body is fully self-constructing, self-preserving and self-healing, and that it is capable of maintaining itself in superb functioning order, completely free of disease, if its needs are met.
Natural Hygiene recognizes that human anatomy and physiology dictate specific needs and conditions to function at peak genetic capability. Supplied with these needs and conditions, in a proper balance, humankind will realize abounding health and joyous well-being.
Natural Hygiene recognizes that diseases are caused by improper life practices, especially dietary indiscretions. Illness proceeds from reduced nerve energy and consequent toxicosis (general systemic poisoning). Insufficient nerve energy arises from stressful dissipation, overindul-gence or deficiency of the normal essentials of life, or pollution of the body with substances not normal to it. Accordingly, recovery from sickness can be achieved only by discontinuing its causes and supplying conditions favorable to healing.
Natural Hygiene recognizes that a thorough-going rest, which includes fasting, is the most favorable condition under which an ailing body can purify and repair itself.
Natural Hygiene, which teaches that exalted well-being can be attained and maintained only through biologically correct living practices, is not in any sense a healing art or curing cult. It regards as mistaken and productive of much grief the idea that diseases can be prevented or overcome by agencies abnormal to our natural being. Consequently,
Natural Hygiene emphatically rejects (except in life or death emergencies and other extraordinary situations which will be touched upon later) all drugs, medications, vaccinations, treatments and therapies because they undermine health by interfering with or destroying vital body processes, cells and tissues. Therefore,
Natural Hygiene regards the body and mind as the inviolable sanctuary of an individual's being.
Natural Hygiene holds that everyone has an inalienable
right to have a pure and uncontaminated body, a pure and
uncontaminated environment in which to live, to be free of
abnormal compulsions and restraints, and to be free to meet
his/her needs as a responsible member of society.
The study and practice of natural hygiene manifests its wonderful results most obviously in our physical health. Its benefits are not as tangible, but just as profound, to our mental, emotional and spiritual health. This is clearly true when viewed through "somatic" eyes since there is no real internally-experienced distinction between mind/body/spirit.
The result is what might be called a "Master List of To-Do's" that need be practiced to realize ideal health.
Natural Hygiene concerns itself with the question: What are the ideal conditions upon which human life depends? It seeks to understand the relationship between action/non-action that is harmonious with natural law and the positive results therefrom.
On the flip side, the consequences that result from rejecting natural law are studied and explained. The result is what might be called a "Master List of To-Do's" that need be practiced to realize ideal health. The funny thing is that living in this manner is, by and large, much easier than straining to live the many pathological practices promoted by approved higher authority - coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, thousands of medicines (poisons), etc.
T.C. Fry, in putting together his pamphlet entitled The Health Formula(6), has succinctly detailed the basic premises of a healthy life. An abbreviated version follows:
Above all, thou shalt not poison thyself! The fundamental principles that beget and maintain superlative health include:
Pure Water - not mineralized/carbonated.
Comfortable temperature. Ideally a climate that allows many hours out-of-doors year-long
Cleanliness of body, both inside and out. Don't pollute it internally by taking in anything other than pure air, pure water, sunshine and foods of our biological adaptation. We can also strive to keep ourselves externally clean without continually stripping away our natural body oils.
Adequate sleep. Nerve energy, which we use while awake, is generated while asleep.
Fresh, sun-ripened, uncooked foods (preferably organically grown and non-irradiated) of our biological adaptation. By this I mean foods that are most effectively and efficiently processed by our digestive systems. As humans are naturally frugivores, fruits should make up a major part of our diet. Vegetables, nuts and seeds that are palatable should complement it. Cooked foods should be considered of secondary and relatively inferior quality to uncooked foods; any food obtained from animals should be considered tertiary and of even more inferior quality.
Vigorous activity. Optimum health demands exercise and activity. Start out slowly and build to an energetic workout that revitalizes all your body's systems.
Sunshine and natural light. Artificial light robs our bodies of much of the visible and non-visible spectrum that is crucial to high level functioning of our eyes and endocrine system.
Rest and relaxation. The siesta is a good example of allowing ourselves time to rejuvenate during the day.
Play and recreation. This should be both physical and mental in nature.
Emotional poise. Our feelings are born of the conditions of our lives. If we make our conditions right and maintain a positive attitude, our feelings will be euphoric and outgoing.
Security of life and its means. Insecurity leads to emotional stresses that rob us of well-being.
Pleasant environment. This applies to all our surroundings, including the people and animals that comprise them. Create and care for a garden. Invite birds and other wildlife into your surroundings. Beautify your home. Include a special place for meditation, music, etc.
Creative, useful work. Humans feel right only when they can fend for themselves and supply their needs by their own efforts. We should strive to make a living at those endeavors which come naturally to us; that we do well and with ease; that give us a sense of pride and self-esteem.
Self-mastery. When we know what makes us and the world tick, this knowledge will liberate our minds. The truth will set us free.
Belonging to a group or social circle. As gregarious creatures, humans thrive within a context of peers on some level, and friends. We need to interact with others about feelings, matters of intellectual moment, and life's affairs and problems.
Inspiration, motivation, purpose and commitment.
Love, appreciation and esteem.
Personal growth in spiritual realms. Striving to know, understand and fulfill one's purpose in life begets joy, wisdom and serenity.
Expression of sexual desires.
Satisfaction of the aesthetic senses. We must have harmony, beauty and goodness in our lives.
A sense of self-reliance and self-worth. Trusting our own inherent powers and our ability to do things is essential to well-being.
This is by no means a complete listing of all of life's needs, but it covers the most basic ones. By reflecting on this list of life's essentials, we can take the necessary steps to improve our lives.
As I work with my clients, I try to teach them about the normal needs of life
As I work with my clients, I try to teach them about the normal needs of life and how they can best change and improve their present lifestyle. It is an individual matter; each of us has our own hurdles to jump over.
We may have various physiological habits to conquer - smoking, alcohol and coffee drinking, various over and under the counter drug habits. We may have various psychological habits to overcome - negative/self-destructive thinking patterns, failure mentality, abandonment or abuse issues, relationship problems with family or friends.
As these harmful patterns are reversed, the patient must be taught how to live in tune with natural laws as best as they are able.
I have found that there are two areas of correct living
that we most frequently misunderstand. These two are the
realms of nutrition / elimination and body use
(exercise/posture/gait). I will address each of these
Nutrition is the process of ingesting substances that build and maintain tissues. Nutritive substances include air, water, sunshine and food. Each of these is essential for superior health in human beings. Sunshine, in proper amounts, is required for proper eye, pituitary and pineal gland functioning. There are probably countless other benefits from natural light; we just don't know about them yet. The importance of pure water and pure air is obvious. Food, however, is the big question mark. For every nutritionist and dietician out there, we will likely get exactly that many different opinions about our ideal food requirements. I'd like to break it down and make it simple.
The perfect foods for humans are fruits, complemented by various palatable vegetables, nuts and seeds.
All living things, from amoebas to humans, have genetically-determined foods of their biological adaptation - foods which look good, smell good, and taste good in their raw state as nature delivers them to us - foods that are easily and efficiently digested, assimilated, utilized and the waste products quickly eliminated by our bodies. For example:
Cows and Horses = Herbivores = Vegetation
Frogs and Lizards = Insectivores = Insects
Squirrels and Birds = Graminivores = Seeds/nut
Dogs and Cats = Carnivores = Animal Flesh
Pigs and Goats = Omnivores = Nearly Anything
Humans and Primates = Frugivores / Herbivores = Fruits and Vegetables
As one studies human anatomy and physiology, he/she arrives at the inescapable conclusion that we are constituted to be primarily vegetarians. The perfect foods for humans are fruits, complemented by various palatable vegetables, nuts and seeds. There is some evidence for the historic inclusion of a very small amount of animal products into our diet - maybe 1-2%. But the evidence for the use of any animal products is either speculative or inconclusive however, so everyone must experiment to see what works best for them.
There is some evidence for the historic inclusion of a very small amount of animal products into our diet - maybe 1-2%
These are the foods of our biological adaptation. They
give us the most complete nourishment with the least amount
of toxic by-products. The more we eat relatively harmful
foods (grains < dairy products < dead animals, etc.),
the tougher it is for our bodies to physiologically handle
them and the more we poison ourselves.
This process of self-poisoning is crucial to understand. Just as the process of nutrition is vitally important, the process of elimination is just as important .
This process of self-poisoning is crucial to understand.
Billions of cells are turned over daily. The non-recyclable parts of these spent cells and the toxins in the air we breathe and the water we drink must be eliminated. The non-digestible fiber and non-usable parts of food we eat must also be eliminated.
If we eat biologically correct foods, and if the stress levels in our lives is manageable, our eliminative faculties (liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, colon, etc.) are usually up to the task of maintaining an acceptably "clean" internal soma. But if stress is high, and/or we consume foods that are not suited to our digestive capabilities, the internal waste products pile up past the toleration point.
On the outside, we call these elimination processes colds, pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, appendicitis, herpes, acne, sinusitis, allergies, asthma, etc., etc.
The integrity of the whole organism is now threatened and the wisdom of the body begins a stepped-up process of elimination. It uses any and all outlets to rid itself of excess toxic materials. The channel it chooses is an individual matter - your body picks what is most appropriate for the toxin to be eliminated and your particular genetic make-up (See XII - The Law of Selective Elimination). On the outside, we call these elimination processes colds, pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, appendicitis, herpes, acne, sinusitis, allergies, asthma, etc., etc. The name doesn't much matter, all are elimination processes.
When we think about what is going on, we realize that these things we call diseases are really not diseases at all. They are really the cure for a condition of the body called toxicosis (general bodily saturation with toxic waste products). As such, these eliminative processes should be cooperated with as much as possible. Instead, we are unaware of what is going on and we take even more poisons into our bodies in the form of drugs and medicines.
The body basically treats all incoming substances as nutritive or toxic. All medicines, drugs, potions, etc. are poisons. They are not usable in building or maintaining healthy cells or tissues. Therefore, the body must expend energy, vitamins, minerals and other important substances to eliminate them.
Think about it. How can a drug, which makes a healthy person sick (note the many "side effects" inherent in any drug), magically turn around and make a sick person well?
Think about it. How can a drug, which makes a healthy person sick .. magically turn around and make a sick person well?
What about "wholistic" therapies and treatments? First we should establish a good working definition of the word therapy. Dr. Ralph Cinque has defined therapy thusly:
Therapy - The treatment of disease by the application of some kind of force (whether mechanical, chemical, thermal, electrical or other) to the body to alter its structure or function. The key word in the definition of therapy is force. Therapy forces change upon the body. The force applied may be harsh or gentle; it may be pleasant or painful; it may be applied internally or externally; but without force there is no therapy. With therapy, there is always the possibility of producing adverse effects, and sometimes this is a certainty. This is because the essence of therapy is often not merely force, but outright violence against the body's structure or function.(7)
I believe that the best way to illustrate the proper place for these treatments and therapies is to ask a few basic questions. Let us say that we are experiencing a pounding headache. Is it due to a lack of aspirin in the system? Is it caused by a deficiency of neck vertebral manipulations? Is it due to the absence of needles at certain acupuncture points? Are we missing specific herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies or crystal stones? Is our bloodstream and brain low on EDTA or other chelating (binding) agents? None of these therapies or substances provide anything that is usable by the body to build or maintain its cells and tissues. Most serve to further weaken our bodies by forcing them to waste energy on the effects of these toxic materials and therapies.
It is paramount that we understand the basic law of cause and effect. The aforementioned headache is an effect, and it has a definite cause (usually multiple). The cause is not a lack of therapies, drugs, manipulations, etc. If this were the case, we would need daily, constant intravenous drips into our arms full of aspirin, EDTA, herbal potions, and homeopathic preparations in order to prevent the headaches. At the same time, we would need to be careful not to dislodge the multitude of acupuncture needles strategically placed in our ears, head, hands, neck and other body parts, especially while the chiropractor is contorting our body in order to deliver his adjustments.
Pain is our warning alarm. .. It is there to teach us that something is definitely wrong and that changes must be made.
It is clear that all these approaches are palliative (to alleviate pain without removing the cause) and temporary, as long as natural laws continue to be violated. Pain is our warning alarm. Pain is a potent motivator. It is there to teach us that something is definitely wrong and that changes must be made. Otherwise, disease and pain will intensify. Sometimes it is better to relieve pain by whatever means available, especially when the suffering is causing unacceptable emotional turmoil. However, compassion in the form of "tough love" has a powerful role to play as well. Anyone familiar with the pain of addiction knows that the turning point back toward health and sanity comes when "the bottom" is reached. And each of us must experience our own "bottom". This understanding also highlights the insidious nature of pain-killing therapies. They allow us to postpone true corrective action while we rely on false cures.
Dr. Anne Wilson Schaef makes this observation:
Medicine can help relieve some of the physical effects of the addictive process, and I question strongly the role of medicine in enabling the addictive process. For example, medicine often heroically rushes in to try to save people from the consequences of their indulging in their addiction (smoking, drinking, overworking or overeating) while steadfastly refusing to confront the addictive process as the root cause of the disease.....Yet, one way of looking at much of medicine (as it is now practiced) is as the systematic enabling of addictions; as what allows and supports addicts to continue to use until their deterioration is so far progressed that their is no hope of physical recovery.....they have taken the edge off just enough so that the society can indulge in and play with its addictive process. The field of psychotherapy has been especially guilty in this respect.(8)
If we do use a pain reliever of some sort, I believe the responsible and honest thing to do is to let the sufferer know that the treatment and/or therapy employed is in fact only palliative, and that the true cause has not been addressed. As such, the same or worse symptoms will reappear later.
Dr. Keki Sidhwa poetically describes the greater psychological damage inherent in the promotion of therapies and cures:
So what price this remedy mentality? Patients undergoing treatments and therapies are at a great disadvantage. The patient blindly assumes that the therapy he is receiving will 'cure' him and hence makes no effort to self-recovering from his disability.
This sort of remedy mentality perpetuates from one generation to another the wrong idea that disease is due to chance and that the only recourse is how to drastically reduce the signs and symptoms (warning alarms) of diseases as soon as possible. Such a mentality is a breeding ground for physical, intellectual, moral, emotional and spiritual decadence.
Instead of being made aware of his own immediate responsibilities, he is lulled into a comforting assumption of childlike innocence and ineffectuality. He is lulled into a false sense of security. He is not in any way to blame for the unwholesome state he finds himself; he cannot be expected to face the tasks of self-repair and readjustment. These burdens he hands over to the remedy.
With them go at least part of his most valuable assets - self-respect and self-reliance. Man cannot live imprudently with impunity.(9)
Nature is extremely fair in that she metes out disease and suffering in direct proportion to the degree that her laws are violated.
Nature is extremely fair in that she metes out disease and suffering in direct proportion to the degree that her laws are violated. Some call it karma, others realize that we are reaping what we have sown. Better that we grow in the understanding and practice of Natural Hygiene so that we may eliminate the causes of our diseases.
This, in a nutshell, is what goes on with most sickness and disease. The more we intuitively understand these simple processes of nutrition and elimination, the quicker we can rid ourselves of nearly all common diseases, permanently. Period.
With this understanding, we see that many mysterious and incurable conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, asthma, ulcers and many others are likely just more exotic manifestations of a condition of toxicosis. The most natural, quick and efficient way to deal with this intolerable state is to employ a pure water fast.
During any acute illness, the appetite naturally
diminishes, usually to the point of fasting.
An integral part of Hygienic care is the use of fasting for the recovery of health. Fasting is an instinctive action instituted by our living body when internal toxin levels reach a threshold that threatens the survival of our body. During any acute illness, the appetite naturally diminishes, usually to the point of fasting.
'Fasting' and/or 'Water Fasting' - consuming only pure water as needed while allowing for total rest - body, mind and senses. The express purpose is to allow the body and mind maximum opportunity to free itself of debilitating influences (aka - detoxification).
'Juice Fasting' and/or 'Juice Diet' - consuming one kind or a variety of freshly extracted juices from fruits and/or vegetables instead of solid foods. The express purpose is to significantly ease the burden of digestion, thereby freeing up energy to accelerate internal detoxification.
Our body intelligently focuses its energy stores to the task of eliminating the offensive toxins. It diverts energy from the muscles and gastrointestinal tract; this is why we feel like lying down and only drinking fluids. Our body is most effectively and efficiently "curing" the underlying problem - toxin build-up.
Forcing food and excess physical activity upon the ailing organism slows down this cleansing process. Just the same, taking any medicine (drug, poison), short-circuits this body-instituted process of healing. Drugs simply make the problem worse.
Adding more virulent poisons and toxins (drugs, medicines) to a body that is already trying to rid itself of toxic material is damaging, injurious and unnecessary. The body is already "curing" the problem. "Cures" do not come from outside the body.
Drugs simply make the problem worse.
Some basic facts concerning fasting are that: Fasting is a highly regulated bodily process that occurs during the complete abstention from all food, supplements, protein/electrolyte drinks, etc. Only pure water is taken as desired.
Fasting begins when carbohydrate stores (mostly glycogen) are depleted. This happens within 12-24 hours. Fasting can continue as long as fat stores remain to be metabolized for fuel (ketosis). This is usually 5-6 weeks for the average person. Longer for the obese, shorter for the emaciated.
When fat stores have been metabolized past certain minimum levels, rapid autolysis of protein structures occurs. This is starvation.
Various hormones come into play during an extended fast. Significant ones include sustained increases of plasma growth hormone and adrenocorticotropin levels. These have important effects on ketosis and cellular protein conservation. Also, pancreatic release of insulin is diminished considerably.
As the body continues fasting, it scavenges any and all superfluous fat stores, abnormal tissues, adhesions, fibrous growths, etc. for autolysis and subsequent gluconeogenesis. All important organs and structures are preserved during fasting.
Growth and healing continue during the fast, but these processes slow during extended fasts.
Various "healing crises" may occur during the fast, which reflect the intelligent innate control of tissue repair and optimal healing. Our body is working at the degree and speed that it knows can best restore health.
Clear and prominent signs are given by our body before it moves into critical protein breakdown called starvation.
Fasts longer than 4 or 5 days require supervision by someone experienced with monitoring the progression and proper conclusion of extended fasts. In this way, maximum benefit can be obtained and preserved.(10)
The most difficult thing for health care practitioners is to do nothing .. intelligently
Fasting can provide the ideal context for tremendous healing to take place in our body. However, fasting is not a cure. Fasting doesn't do anything. In fact, fasting is the best way to do nothing.
The most difficult thing for health care practitioners is to do nothing but simply set the stage (context) for our body's own magnificent healing powers to take over. Yet in the vast majority of cases, intelligently doing nothing (not neglecting) is exactly the best thing to do.(11) Fasting simply provides the most favorable internal environment for the most rapid and effective healing to occur.
For those in the health professions, it is tempting to jump right in and "assist" the healing process with manipulation, bodywork, electrical modalities, colonics, supplements, etc. Yet the clinical experience gained from collectively supervising hundreds of thousands of fasts demonstrate that many of the "barriers" to healing are effectively autolyzed (eliminated) - cysts, calcium deposits, mucosal and fecal deposits, tumors, adhesions, pannus formations, and other similar scar-type tissues.
The practitioner must use his or her judgement carefully in such cases. Mild intervention may be of help, but it could just as easily hinder the healing process, forcing our body to divert precious resources prematurely to the newly-injured areas and generally squander vital energies. It is most often better to allow our body to achieve what it can during the fast and to then apply gentle supportive techniques later where warranted.
Yet the clinical experience gained from collectively
supervising hundreds of thousands of fasts demonstrate that
many of the "barriers" to healing are effectively autolyzed
(eliminated) - cysts, tumors ...
Dr. Ronald Cridland, in an article in Health Science(12) magazine, points out where appropriate medical intervention makes good common sense:
A primary principle of Natural Hygiene is the understanding that only our body (including our mind-Ed.) can heal. Whether we have an illness or a wound, it is our body that will heal it. Even when some form of medical or surgical treatment is appropriately and successfully employed, that procedure is not going to make the cells knit together or make the function return. Only our body (vital force) is capable of doing that.
There are situations, however, when medical or surgical intervention can be of great, sometimes life saving benefit. Generally speaking, these are times when the intervention, by removing as much as possible any interfering factors, helps provide the optimum healing environment, thus allowing our body to achieve its maximum healing potential.
But occasionally, medical or surgical intervention will maximize healing potential. When is medical and surgical care necessary?
We want to avoid medical and surgical treatment and
hospitalization because it has serious risks. A healthy
hygienic lifestyle, including fasting when appropriate, will
prevent or resolve most acute and chronic illness. But
occasionally, medical or surgical intervention will maximize
healing potential. The medical or surgical forte is in areas
of trauma or life or limb threatening emergencies where
"high-tech" care improves the outcome, and this is where
surgical or other intervention makes sense.
During these extended fasting periods, our body receives a well deserved period of physical, mental and emotional rest. During fasting, we can take time to get back in touch with the inner healing power that sustains us. It can be a very powerful experience. We have the internal somatic feeling of health returning.
There is the empowering intuitive knowledge that comes with knowing that we ourselves are achieving this return to health, not some doctor, drug, therapy, expert, etc. As Hanna proclaimed ".....And they (the clients) are utterly in command and aware of what went on." Self-empowerment is strengthened. Self-respect increases. Self-responsibility is cultivated and expanded.
Greater freedom is realized. Many of the preceding concepts on nutrition, elimination, fasting, basic needs of life, etc. seem obvious and of simple common sense.
There is the empowering intuitive knowledge that comes with knowing that we ourselves are achieving this return to health, not some doctor, drug, therapy, expert, etc.
And that is the beauty of it. Spiritual Masters throughout
the ages agree that greatly simplifying our life is a first
and major step toward achieving health, wisdom, peace and
Another vitally important element of Natural Hygiene, indeed a defining characteristic of all life, is that of movement. Divisions include posture, tone, use, range of motion, gait, exercise and others. Fundamental to efficient and effective movement is a high level of awareness of what our bodies are doing. This sense of knowing how, where and what our bodies are doing is called our sixth sense - kinesthetic awareness. This kinesthetic sense is functioning all the time and it runs mostly on automatic pilot, allowing us to walk, run, eat, drink, etc. without really thinking about it.
Fundamental to efficient and effective movement is a high level of awareness of what our bodies are doing.
Most of our normal movement patterns are learned in infancy and early childhood. Though they may have achieved a desired goal at that time, it is very likely that these habitual movements are ineffective, inefficient and damaging to our structure as adults. Being habits, these patterns can be very difficult to break. Most healthcare practitioners completely overlook these deficiencies, especially those who should be more aware, such as osteopaths and chiropractors. Emphasis is given toward therapeutically strengthening "weak" muscles or otherwise forcefully "holding" odd postures thereby creating more habitual patterns on top of the old ones. Breaking this mold were two progressive human movement masters - F. Matthias Alexander and Thomas Hanna.
F. Matthias Alexander was a classical orator of the early 20th century who despaired of his chronic loss of voice during his performances. He developed a system for correcting his aberrant posture by observing himself carefully in several well-placed mirrors. He noticed movements he made while speaking that restricted his windpipe and his breathing. He attempted to inhibit these actions and gradually came to control and eliminate these habits.
In the process, Alexander gained valuable insight into concepts such as "body lengthening, "end-gaining and means-whereby" and "primary control" being the head/neck relationship in instigating forward movement. He, like Shelton and Hanna, realized that he was not delivering a therapy or a cure. He was educating his clients in more effective use of their bodies. His goal was to teach people how to keep improving themselves once the teacher was gone.
My personal experience with the Alexander method is limited, but I believe that a combination of Somatics and Alexander techniques can provide rapid improvements in use and function of our neuromusculoskeletal system. Alexander's work was a great leap forward for the somatic/body awareness field.
A supple, healthy body will in turn impact strongly and positively on our feelings about ourselves and what we are capable of achieving.
Somatics, as conceived and codified by Hanna, might best be thought of as a system for reawakening our mind's control of movement, flexibility and health. It employs our powers of focused concentration, careful deliberate movements and internal sensory awareness to overcome learned patterns of faulty movements and chronic muscular tension.
Somatics recognizes no mind/body split.
Current Western research is slowly coming to grips with the concept that 3rd person "objective" observation is not paramount to 1st person "subjective" feeling. In fact, they are of coequal importance for dealing with reality.
Somatics implicitly sees all life's experiences as body/mind experiences. To experience life to its fullest, we need to maintain our soma (mind/body) in peak functioning condition.
Somatics movement awareness provides a simple yet dramatic technique for preserving neuromuscular fitness. A supple, healthy body will in turn impact strongly and positively on our feelings about ourselves and what we are capable of achieving. Hanna introduces his thesis in his book Somatics(13):
"Somatics movements can change how we live our lives, how we believe that our minds and bodies interrelate, how powerful we think we are in controlling our lives, and how responsible we should be in taking care of our total being. In fact, as these discoveries relate to our conception of what humans are and can be, they have broad philosophical implications for understanding the nature of our existence.
Our sensory-motor system (which senses our environment and then carries out a movement or action response) is a mechanism fundamental to all human experience and behavior. And to understand sensory-motor amnesia is to understand one of the fundamental causes of the malfunctions we have falsely believed to be the effects of aging. The fact is that, during the course of our lives, our sensory-motor systems continually respond to daily stresses and traumas with specific muscular reflexes.
These reflexes, repeatedly triggered, create habitual muscular contractions which we cannot - voluntarily - relax. These muscular contractions have become so deeply involuntary and unconscious that, eventually, we no longer remember how to move about freely. The result is stiffness, soreness, and a restricted range of movement.
This habituated state of forgetfulness is called sensory-motor amnesia (SMA). It is a memory loss of how certain muscle groups feel and how to control them. And, because this occurs within the central nervous system, we are not aware of it, yet it affects us to our very core. Our image of who we are, what we can experience, and what we can do is profoundly diminished by sensory-motor amnesia. And it is primarily this event, and its secondary effects, that we falsely think of as growing older.
The reflexes that cause sensory-motor amnesia are very specific. There are three, and I have named them the Red Light Reflex, the Green Light Reflex, and the Trauma Reflex. They are a crucial part of SMA and round out the enormously important discoveries of Hans Selye and Moshe Feldenkrais. Before discussing the three reflexes, however, it is important that I point out the following facts:
The effects of sensory-motor amnesia can begin at any age, but usually become apparent in our thirties and forties;
SMA is an adaptive response of the nervous system; and because SMA is a learned adaptive response, it can be unlearned.
Hanna: "These muscular contractions have become so deeply
involuntary and unconscious that, eventually, we no longer
remember how to move about freely."
The obvious mind/body connection is central to somatics practice. Some cogent points:
Humans are psychosocial, self-organizing processes (Soma's); we are exactly that which we sense ourselves to be.
Our bodies are exactly as active (motor response) as they are receptive (sensory response).
Every emotion has a neuromusculoskeletal representation; i.e. anger demonstrates as clenched teeth, wide open eyes, fast breathing; depression results in a stooped posture, lax muscles, shallow breathing, happiness is expressed with smiles, lowered heart rate, relaxed muscles, etc.
Important research in this area has been conducted by Dr. Hans Selye and Moshe Feldenkrais.
Selye basically proved that all biological organisms proceed through several definite stages when trying to cope with stress.
He called this response the General Adaptation Syndrome. His work dealt primarily with the endocrine (hormonal) responses to stress. He noted three general physiological states that the organism successively passed through:
Alarm - where the organism elicits many specific endocrine and sympathetic nervous system processes to prepare for action;
Resistance - where the organism sustains and modulates the Alarm processes to cope with continued stressors;
Exhaustion - where the organism cannot sustain continued Alarm responses due to depletion of resources.
Moshe Feldenkrais was a physicist and engineer who applied his mechanical expertise to the function of the human system. He noticed that when muscles and joints are dysfunctional, many times it is due to chronic contractions of the involved muscles.
He believed that the best way to alleviate these habitual contractions is not to forcefully stretch them, but to slowly and consciously contract them even further. As these careful movements are completed, these muscles spontaneously release some of their tension. At the same time, an increasing degree of conscious control is gained over the actions of these muscles. Feldenkrais put most of his emphasis on the musculoskeletal complications of the startle reflex, which will be explained shortly.
Thomas Hanna saw the connections between the pioneering work of Hans Selye and Moshe Feldenkrais. He combined the problems and treatments for genetically programmed responses, including the Red Light Reflex, the Green Light Reflex and neuromusculoskeletal responses to stress/injury, including the Trauma Reflex into a somatic rehabilitation and maintenance system called Somatics.
This bodily maintenance system, if practiced regularly as part of our daily routine, will yield tremendous benefits regarding strength, tone, flexibility, coordination and efficient use of our neuromusculoskeletal system.
Though we may not be able to live "perfectly" each and
every day, we do now have a reliable yardstick with which to
measure our progress.
Some will argue that it is well near impossible to meet all these conditions for health each and every day. Modern day living is far removed from nature in dozens of ways, they will say. That is true. However, the superiority of the Somatic and Hygienic systems lies not only in their simple wisdom and adherence to natural laws, but that they set out ideal standards for human health, based on anatomy and physiology.
Though we may not be able to live "perfectly" each and every day, we do now have a reliable yardstick with which to measure our progress. No longer must we jerk ourselves from one "expert" opinion to another, or concern ourselves with the latest health fad, looking for the silver bullet to health. We now have a gauge with which to accurately measure our health and lifestyles.
Likewise, we can easily gauge how well all other health-care systems and ideas measure up to the simple standards that nature decrees. Logically it can be seen that all other approaches to health improvement and maintenance will be successful to the degree that they employ Natural Hygiene (natural law), knowingly or not.
Every one of us practices Natural Hygiene every day to varying degrees. And we are healthy to precisely that degree.
Natural Hygiene is the optimal health system that harmonizes with Natural Law in all respects. Man did not create the principles of Natural Hygiene - Nature did. Hygienists, through observation, trial and error and the process of elimination simply wrote down and then practiced what nature decreed. These harmonious laws of nature work as well today as they have worked for millions of years.
Therapies come and therapies go. Nature's ways of health are always there waiting for us to accept them.
The word "doctor" originally comes from a Latin word meaning teacher. The Hygienic/ Somatic/Alexander professional truly carries out their mandate - that of a teacher. Through their example, instruction, guidance, direction and support, we are continually invested with knowledge that will thereafter free us of the need for physicians, healers, analysts, experts and other authoritarians for the rest of our healthy lives. Enlightened and empowered with this knowledge, we are encouraged to share experiences and teach these experts and all others of this health-promoting and freedom-giving information. Those who may still be a bit skeptical of the claims made by teachers of Natural Hygiene, Somatics and the Alexander Method might consider this: .. there are no tremendous profits to be made by selling therapies, drugs, etc. We just have information to sell.
Natural Hygiene, Somatics and the Alexander Method teach us knowledge and skills that we can use to maintain wonderful health of mind/body/spirit for the rest of our lives. There is no stake in placing us on endless treadmills of therapies, drugs, medications, supplements or rituals.
This being so, there are no tremendous profits to be made by selling therapies, drugs, etc. We just have information to sell.
Body awareness gained through Somatics and Alexander techniques frees us from physical enslavement to unnatural therapies, manipulations, supplements and drugs. Hygienic awareness also frees us from physical enslavement to unnatural therapies, manipulations, supplements and drugs. All three free us from destructive mental and emotional dependence on experts and authority figures for our existence.
Our emphasis is on turning helpless, frightened patients into responsible, vigorous, knowledgeable and happy non-patients - permanently. The ultimate goal of the teachers of Natural Hygiene, Somatics and the Alexander Method is that nobody needs our services any longer.
Our emphasis is on turning helpless, frightened patients into responsible, vigorous, knowledgeable and happy non-patients - permanently.
This, I believe, is what constitutes truth in the field of human health. Does the approach under consideration foster self-respect, self-reliance, independence and autonomy? Or does it promote, directly or indirectly, co-dependence, addiction, deference to higher authority and ultimate slavery to pill, potion, procedure or person?
This characteristic of increasing freedom is what separates Natural Hygiene, Somatics and the Alexander Method from all the rest. "Let us have truth though the heavens fall."(14)
Though a Natural Hygiene/Somatic/Alexander mindset is simple, inexpensive and in agreement with common sense, it will take a tremendous degree of patience, tolerance and loving kindness to instill these effective practices into our culture. Yet, humankind and the Earth itself will take a terrible beating if we wait. As in matters of Spirit, this information must be learned and embodied individually - one person at a time. The herd mentality and majority rule just does not apply.
The challenge is for each of us to study and embrace these simple truths; to apply them to our own lives and evaluate the results. Rational action demands that we test these revolutionary concepts out personally and judge for ourselves. Nature and nature's God will reward us tenfold for our efforts. We will not only know it; we will live it. Then, and only then, may we offer ourselves as teachers for the students who are ready.
There are millions of hurting people out there who need this knowledge desperately. Those of us who have healed our lives through applying these wonderful teachings of Alexander, Hanna and Shelton must pass them on. We owe it to our selves and to our brothers and sisters. One after another, we can build a groundswell of people that have reclaimed superb health, embraced self-responsibility, savored the experience of freedom and stand ready to work toward ever greater human mental, physical and spiritual evolution.
There are millions of hurting people out there who need this knowledge desperately.
The informative website of this natural hygiene doctor with ideas for healthful living.
A large and thorough document describing Natural Hygiene and other non-intrusive approaches to health.