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  • Natural Hygiene early doctors

    Medical doctors abandon drugs
    Dr. Jackson "When a man begins to doubt the drug system, it is difficult to stop. ... An example of the transforming power of a new idea is supplied us by Dr. James C. Jackson's (M.D.) conversion to hydropathy.
    He explains in 1861 that he had no more desire to disbelieve his allopathic education than he had to become an infidel in religion; but he had come face to face with a group of facts: He had seen a number of patients recover health from apparently hopeless conditions without drugs; within a few months these so-called incurables were walking about quite vigorously and ultimately returned home in good health. He reasoned to himself: "What power is it that has done this work?" He answers: "One naturally would, under such a glimmer of light as I had, be disposed to ascribe the result to some specific agent.
    - Jackson thus repeated an old and common mistake--that of mistaking coincidence for cause ... and the healing power of the body is always ignored." H. Shelton, 1968
    "It is because the world stands so much in need of this knowledge that we are determined to make it available to those who might come within the sphere of our influence. And though we have had to suffer as almost all persons who undertake the promulgation of new truths, we have been able to endure and that is what always wins new victories." James C. Jackson

    Health Conventions
    "The movement initiated by Graham and Alcott and measurably contributed to by Mary Gove, and which was early joined by Dr. Jennings, represents the beginning of the Hygienic movement. ... This was only the beginning and many subsequent men, especially Trall, Taylor, Nichols and Jackson, added their weight and thought and their experience to the evolution of the new but old way of life. ...

    Two health conventions were held by the American Physiological Society (founded in 1837 by Sylvester Graham) under the general term of the American Health Convention. The first of these opened in Boston 1838. The second was held in New York 1839. Physiological societies were formed in several cities, ... and a provision store, which may properly be called the world's first health food store." H. Shelton, 1968

  • TurnerDoddsPageAustinGoveNicholsOswald

    Colleges & Civil War
    In 1853 Dr. Trall founded the New York College of Hygeio-Therapy, and half of the first class graduates were women. In 1858 Drs. Austin and Jackson founded a 250-bed institution in New York: Our Home on the Hillside. Ellen White, a hygienist and Seventh Day adventist, called for "Health Reform in the name of The Lord" in many books between 1864 and 1915. Clara Barton, a hygienist, founded the Red Cross in 1881. In 1887 Dr. Susanna Dodds founded The Hygienic College of Physicians and Surgeons.
    The Civil War 1861-65 had a devastating impact - general impoverishment caused the closing of hygienic colleges, magazines and institutions. Hygiene never regained its dominant position. (partly from Bidwell, 1989)

    Hygiene influences medicine
    "Neglect of the Hygienic needs (especially of the need for rest, fresh air and water) is not as persistent nor as criminal today, thanks to the work of Hygienists, hydropathists and nature curists, as it was a hundred years ago; (but the total Hygienic program is far from having been accepted). By line upon line, precept upon precept and volume upon volume, the workers for a revolution in the way of life have done a good job.
    Jackson declared that the changes in medical practices that occurred during his lifetime had been due "clearly and wholly to the promulgation of the principles" of Hygiene. " H. Shelton, 1968

  • (1) Theory develops: What is the real cause of disease?

    Enervation & toxemia
    John Tilden M.D.(1851-1940) first practiced medicine and surgery for twenty-five years. Personal experience, however, led him gradually to lose all faith in drugs, and like Jennings, he began to use sugar tablets — blank cartridges, he called them — which he continued to give (to use his own words), "until I was mentally evolved to the truth that even sugar pills were injurious, in that the make believe medication educated my patients into believing that their improvement was due to the supposed drug they were taking. This is the harm in doing for sick people anything labeled curative."
    Dr. Tilden finally gave up the placebo practice and learned to rely upon Hygiene. He established an institution in Denver, Colorado, to care for the sick along natural hygiene lines, where he remained until his death in 1940. An interesting tidbit: Dr. Tilden recommended a silver-dollar's size of raw chopped meat per day. (partly from ANHS: The Greatest Health Discovery)

    Dr. Tilden "Twenty-five years I practiced the science of medicine. During most of that time I did not know why people were sick, got well, nor why they died. ... When visiting the sick, I had no idea of how I should find them at the next call. I did not know if the disease would end soon or late. I did not know if it would take on a severe form, or quickly run its course. I did not know whether or not there would be complications. In fact, I did not know anything that would make me comfortable regarding the outcome of the disease. ... I had the usual stock-in-trade subterfuges that are worked off on a confiding public, for example: 'If no complications arise, the patient will recover.'"
    "I defy the so-called best practitioners ... to undertake to prove that what I am saying is not true. Not one can tell from one day to another how his patients will be. ... Not one can say with any certainty that the drug he prescribes will have the action he hopes to experience. Not one can tell, after the first twenty-four hours of medication, whether the symptoms presenting themselves are those of disease proper or due to drugs."
    "To sum up: No doctor knows anything definite about his patients after the first day's drugging; Every honest doctor will admit that there is an unknown quantity about every case he treats which forces him to guess if asked to give his opinion."

    "The toxin theory of the healing art is grounded on the TRUTH that TOXEMIA is the basic source of all diseases. So sure and certain is this truth that I do not hesitate to say that it is by far the most satisfactory theory that has been advanced in all the history of medicine. It is a scientific system that covers the whole field of cause and effect—a system that synthesizes with all knowledge, hence a true philosophy."
    "When this truth first began to force itself upon me, years ago, I was not sure but that there was something wrong with my reasoning. I saw that it would bring me very largely in opposition to every established medical treatment. I held back, and argued with myself. ... I fought to suppress giving open utterance to a belief that would, in all probability, cause me to be hissed at — subject me to the jeers and gibes of the better class of people, both lay and professional.
    "Little by little I have proved the truth of my theory. I have tried it out daily for the past twenty years. I myself have personally stood the brunt of my experimenting, and have willingly suffered because of it. Every day this trying-out of the theory has convinced me more and more that TOXEMIA IS THE UNIVERSAL CAUSE OF DISEASE."

    "As has been stated continuously in my writings for the past dozen years, the habits of overeating, overclothing, and excesses of all kinds use up nerve energy. When the nerve supply is not equal to the demands of the body, organic functioning is impaired, resulting in the retention of waste products. This produces Toxemia."
    "Man can be enervated, yet not sick; but he cannot be poisoned — sick — without being enervated.' John H. Tilden: Toxemia explained

    "Dr. Tilden tells us that it was at the cook-stove that he learned that how a sick kitten clings to heat; that in caring for animals, he first learned that the sick creature will not eat. These two lessons were later to bear fruit in his practice." (ANHS: The Greatest Health Discovery)

    Enervation & toxemia & deficiency
    In the 20th century, Dr. Gian Cursio started emphasizing deficiency more, probably due to his experiences with deaths & diseases from vegan deficiencies. Here Dr. Bass, a student of Cursio, explains:

    "Generally speaking, diseases are caused by any or all of 3 factors - namely: enervation, toxemia or deficiency.
    There are 2 sources of toxemia:
    -- Toxemia which is caused by the ingestion and accumulation of substances which are foreign to the body and toxic in nature, such as chemicals, drugs, etc. These produce irritation, inflammation and pathology in bodily organs and systems.
    -- Toxemia which is due to the accumulation of toxic wastes resulting from the food and beverages we eat and drink; unnatural food or natural food in excess beyond what the body can use at the moment. Retention of this excess leads to decomposition of the food and the production of irritating and toxic chemical wastes, which provide a fertile field for the growth of microbes and various species of bacteria, which further increase the toxic state.

    Deficiencies: The insufficiency of necessary food substances, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, enzymes etc., lead to breakdown of cells, tissues and organs which is given names of diseases, according to its location.

    John Henry Tilden, M.D., formulated a theory of the cause of disease as due to a recurring cycle of enervation and toxemia.
    Enervation is the reduction or loss of energy occasioned by
    -- the lack of rest or sleep, or
    -- the excessive use of emotion, negative thoughts, worry, stress, or
    -- the overdoing of physical actions, overeating etc. "
    Dr. Stanley S. Bass: How Important is Diagnosis?

              Read more in INHS magazine: What is Disease?

  • (2) Theory develops: Laws of Life

    Laws of Health
    What is the Laws of Life? Essentially the manual - the key to understanding how we function and why we are sick or healthy. If you understand and follow these laws you'll be healthy. If you break them you will get sick.
    "The laws of life are not something imposed upon the organization of man. They are imbedded in the very structure of our being, in our tissues, our nerve and muscle cells, our bloodstream, into the total organism. ... Since these laws are fundamental parts of us, we cannot revolt against them without revolting against ourselves. ... We cannot run away from the laws of being without running away from ourselves. There simply is no escape, except in death." Herbert M. Shelton
    Here are a couple of the laws:

    A)   Energy is the basis
    Dr. Robert WalterRobert Walter M.D. (1841-1924) is credited with beginning to formulate the "Laws of Life" or "Laws of Vitality" as he called them - including the basis: "Life's Great Law". It states that the overriding goal is self-preservation/survival. And that the success of life depends upon the amount of energy available. Lots of energy equals health, while low energy equals disease:

    law 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” or “life force” or “Nerve Energy.” The success of each living organism — whether it be simple or complex— is directly proportioned to the amount of its life force and inversely proportional to the degree of its activity.

    This basic energy law has four secondary Laws of Vital Relation: --- (1) The Law of Action, (2) The Law of Power, (3) The Law of Dual Effects, and (4) The Law of Vital Accomodation (S. Bass: The Laws of Life)

    1)   Dead things can NOT act
    A very common error today - you hear it all the time: this drug or herb will do something, will give more energy, will remove pain and so on. Wrong! Dead things (in the form of drugs) cannot act, only the body has power of action.
    law 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 — and not to the dead whose leading characteristic is inertia."

    2)   Vital power comes from within
    Even if it looks like taking a drug creates an immediate relief, there is no power in the drug itself. The relief is due to an action by a body that has enough vital power.
    law The Law of Power: "The power employed, and consequently expended, in any vital or medicinal action is vital power, that is, power from within — and not from without."

    3)   Body reaction to a drug changes with time to the opposite.
    Whenever a drug is taken - what looks like relief it this: vitality being redirected (from the original problem) to deal with the new poisonous threat -- the drug. The body deals with the drug immediately, first-priority. This is the first effect, stimulation. The second effect is a state of weakness. E.g. alcohol appears to strengthen for a while, but is soon followed by diminished function and weakness.
    law The Law of Dual Effects: "All agents which are taken into the body or which come in contact with it from without occasion a two-fold and contrary action in time, the secondary or reactive action being the opposite of the active or primary one."

    4)   To survive - destroy or adapt to poison
    You cannot steer the body's reactions - they are always automatic and instinctive, with this single goal: self-preservation and survival. If a drug enters, the body can react in two ways - either throw out the toxin, or adapt itself by working at a lower vitality level.
    law The Law of Vital Accommodation: The response of the vital organism to external stimuli is an instinctive one, based upon a self-preservative instinct which adapts or accommodates itself to whatever influence it cannot destroy or control.

  • (3) Theory develops: Diseases in stages

    1930's : From flu to cancer
    Dr. Tilden's revolutionary writings in the 1930's explained the seven stages of disease and what happens when our energy level gets lower and lower. Note that a sick person can move down the steps (get worse), or up (get better) - it is simple cause and effect, and we have power to reverse the trend. The following is by Victoria Bidwell from The Health Seekers Yearbook (1989):


    Dr. Tilden STAGE ONE IS ENERVATION: Nerve Energy is so reduced or exhausted that all normal bodily functions are greatly impaired, especially the elimination of endogenous and exogenous poisons. Stage One thus begins the progressive and chronic process of “Toxemia Toleration” that continues through all of the following stages. The Toxic Sufferer does not feel his “normal self.” He feels either stimulated or depressed by the poisonous overload.

    STAGE TWO IS TOXEMIA: Nerve Energy is too low to eliminate metabolic wastes and ingested poisons. These toxic substances begin to saturate first the bloodstream and lymphatic fluids and then the cells themselves. The Toxic Sufferer feels inordinately tired, run-down, and “out of it.”

    STAGE THREE IS IRRITATION: Toxic build-up within the blood and lymph and tissues continues. The cells/tissues where build-up occurs are irritated by the toxic nature of the waste, resulting in a low-grade inflammation. The Toxic Sufferer can feel exhausted, queasy, irritable, itchy, even irrational and hostile. During these first 3 stages, if The Toxic Sufferer does consult a medical doctor about the reason for his low energy and irritability, the doctor tells him: “There is nothing wrong with you. These symptoms are ‘all in your head.’ You are perfectly healthy!”

    STAGE FOUR IS INFLAMMATION: The low-grade, chronic inflammation from Stage Three is leading to the death of cells. An area or organ where toxicants have amassed next becomes fully inflamed. The Toxic Sufferer experiences actual pain, along with pathological symptoms at this point. With the appearance of these symptoms, the medical doctor can finally give The Sufferer’s complaint a name. Traditionally, medical scientists have named many of the 20,000 distinctly different diseases after the site where the toxins have accumulated and precipitated their symptoms. Once the set of symptoms is conveniently named, the doctor can mechanically prescribe the “antidote” from his Physician’s Desk Reference or from his memorized medical/ pharmaceutical repertoire. Standard medical doctors thus commence drugging and treating at this stage.

    STAGE FIVE IS ULCERATION: Tissues are destroyed. The body ulcerates, forming an outlet for the poisonous build-up. The Toxic Sufferer experiences a multiplication and worsening of symptoms while the pain intensifies. Standard medical doctors typically continue drugging and often commence with surgery and other forms of more radical and questionable treatment at this stage.

    STAGE SIX IS INDURATION: Induration is the result of long-standing, chronic inflammation with bouts of acute inflammation interspersed. The chronic inflammation causes an impairment or sluggishness of circulation: and because some cells succumb, they are replaced with scar tissue. This is the way we lose good, normal-functioning cells — by chronic inflammation and death of cells. Toxins may or may not be encapsulated in a tumor, sac, wen, or polyp. The Toxic Sufferer endures even more physical pain, which is intensified by the emotional distress of realizing that he is only getting worse, regardless of his earnest, obedient, even heroic attempts to get well. Standard medical doctors continue with both drugging and surgery and all other kinds of modalities deemed appropriate, both conventional and experimental. (“Induration” means “hardening” or “scarring” of tissues.)

    STAGE SEVEN IS IRREVERSIBLE DEGENERATION AND/OR FUNGATION (CANCER): Cellular integrity is destroyed through their disorganization and/or cancerous proliferation. Tissues, organs, and whole systems lose their ability to function normally. Biochemical and morphological changes from the depositing of Endogenous and Exogenous Toxins bring about degenerations and death at the cellular level. The Toxic Sufferer is “a pathological mess”: he is on his deathbed. Standard medical doctors declare at this stage: “There is no hope left. You have just so much longer to live. You need to make preparations accordingly.” Failure of vital organs eventually results in death.

  • (4) Theory develops: System-building

    Dr. Herbert Shelton - cleaning and organizing
    Dr. Herbert M. Shelton (1895-1984) was a brilliant man with unique abilities and happened to be the right man for the right job - reviving Hygiene and creating a complete hygienic system.

    "It was my effort to revive a movement that had been allowed to all but die. .... The message of Natural Hygiene is now heard around the world." Herbert Shelton

  • CLEANUP: Dr. Shelton took the old hygienic writings and separated the real stuff from the therapies. He removed the junk, and made Hygiene intelligent. He cleaned up Hygiene, e.g. by removing hydropathic ideas.
  • ORGANIZATION: He organized the collected knowledge, while giving credit to the hygienic masters.
  • SYSTEMATIZATION: He systematized Hygiene to create a system of pure basic principles, and lifted Natural Hygiene up to a higher stage.

    Dr. Herbert Shelton Dr. Shelton was always on top of the latest research and commented on it. He would just listen, listen - and when he spoke he was usually analytically correct.
    His decision to choose a vegan diet-concept and abandon Dr. Tilden's chopped raw meat may have been his largest mistake from today's perspective, but it was based on contemporary science.
    He gave his whole life to the cause of cleaning up and re-creating Hygiene. He often worked almost all night on writing his books using his extensive library, writing the monthly magazine Hygienic Review, and during the day taking care of patients at his Health School together with Dr. Vetrano - in his lifetime doing the labor of many men. He did a lot of writing, 40+ books, and gave many lectures - sometimes in a not too easy-to-digest style.
    Herbert Shelton had a great sense of humor and told lots of stories. He was sure of himself, had humility, and honored the old hygienic masters and those with more knowledge.
    He was principled, with a very high accuracy rate and he was a fearless warrior for the truth, jailed up to 30 times. He was not always diplomatic but could be a skilled politician.   (from Dr. Stanley Bass interview 2003)

    Herbert M. Shelton
    "Herbert Shelton first became acquainted with the system at the tender age of 17 (1912). He started to probe into its past and single handedly exhumed the vast storehouse of knowledge that lay neglected and unread. Beginning in 1919, he began sifting, selecting and testing what those who had gone before had left as a heritage.
    Shelton became increasingly determined that there must be a renaissance in natural hygiene. His formal education in the health field was obtained at the International College of Drugless Physicians in Chicago which was founded by Bernarr Macfadden in 1920. (The College despite its name, was more like that of Trall's, in its curriculum and principles, than any subsequent college.)
    In 1922, he graduated from the American School of Naturopathy and did post graduate work at the Peerless College of Chiropractic in Chicago. In order to obtain clinical experience, Shelton interned in various institutions before setting up practice for himself. From 1925 to 1928 he was on the staff of Macfadden's Physical Culture magazine and was the health columnist for the New York Evening Graphic. His articles were hard hitting and impressive in their message on health and disease; especially so was the one on Rudolph Valentino and his untimely death brought on by medication.

    Year 1928
    The year 1928 was a landmark in the 20th century Natural Hygiene Movement, for three reasons.
  • Dr. Shelton came co-founder and co-owner of How to Live Magazine, which laid the groundwork for his Hygienic Review, a publication which came out eleven years later and earned for itself recognition as the most informative journal on health and disease for the lay person.
  • Secondly, he established an institution to care for the sick through physiological resting, or fasting, which provided a living laboratory of the physiology of health recovery.
  • Lastly, Dr. Shelton published his first great work Human Life: Its Philosophy and Laws, which incorporated much of the teachings of the pioneers, and was the forerunner of a host of other volumes on correct living for the prevention of disease and the recovering of health.

    Dr. Shelton's Hygienic Review
    It was fortunate that before Dr. Tilden's depth in 1940, which brought to an end his Health Review and Critique, that Dr. Shelton's Hygienic Review made its debut (Sept. 1939), and thus left unbroken the continuity of magazines devoted to the Hygienic ideal which have been published came into being in 1832.
    Dr. Shelton's Hygienic Review was never able to pay for itself, yet it continued each month without missing an issue, even during the difficult days of World War II when help was scarce and paper rationed. Never did it double up on two months as did many other publications.
    Dr. Shelton humorously relates how be managed to almost single handedly put out the magazine, while at the same time operate his institution in San Antonio, Texas. "I would make beds, sweep floors, serve meals, wash dishes. Often after getting through with the noon day dishes, I would hop into my car and give my printer a hand in getting out the magazine." The Greatest Health Discovery, ANHS

  •   "If our theory is true, that disease is vital action abnormally expressed, then to our minds it follows, irresistibly, that such means as the organism needs and must have to keep itself in health are the means, and the only means, which it needs and must have to restore lost ground. What are these means? To settle this question, we have merely to provide a satisfactory answer to the question: what are Hygienic materials? By Hygienic agents, said Trall, the Hygienist means "things normal." Briefly, they are food, water, air, light, heat, activity, rest and sleep, cleanliness and wholesome emotional influences.
    Hygienic materials have nothing in common, in the body, with the "remedies" of the physician. Throughout the whole realm of nature we find nothing provided for the repair of injury, except that which is consistent with the health of the body when uninjured.
    Look with us at the relations of life to which the sick are subjected. One may be constitutionally feeble and it may be that he has been sick all his life. Yet physicians do to him, steadily and persistently, what no argument could induce them to do for the plants in their garden. Instead of caring for the sick as they would a valuable rose bush, nursing him or her, watching over the patient, waiting upon him and giving the forces of life a chance; instead of keeping things away that exhaust and providing things that nourish, all the "dregs and scum of earth and sea" are employed in a vain effort to restore health without any consideration being given to the causes of the disease. As the living organism, well or sick, is the same organism and as there is no radical change in its structures or its functions and no radical change in its elemental needs in the two states of existence, we need a system of care that is equally applicable to both the well and the sick." Herbert Shelton 1968

      "Most people's prejudices against the Hygienic System arise out of the very simplicity of its means and methods. So long have we been educated to belittle and deprecate the simple health requirements of nature and to rely upon the mysterious and incomprehensible and to misunderstand the nature of disease and to grossly overrate the danger of certain conditions, that we find ourselves entirely unable to appreciate the adequacy of the means employed in Hygienic practice to the accomplishment of the ends sought.
    We are frequently asked: where are our experiments? Do we need experiments to prove that man cannot live without air? Are we called upon to prove that fresh air is better than foul? Must we show experimentally that rest and sleep are nature's processes of recuperation? Must we demonstrate the value of cleanliness? Are experiments needed today to convince us that violent emotions are ruinous? Have we so far forgotten the benefits of exercise that we need them demonstrated to us in the laboratory? After all the experiments that have been performed, that confirmed the experiences that processed and refined foods are inadequate to meet man's nutritive needs, do we need more experiments to demonstrate this fact all over again? Can we not accept the very means by which we live without having to have their value demonstrated in the laboratory?
    The medical profession, through every means at its command, has long taught people to poison themselves with deadly drugs whenever they were ill. They have long, too long, taught the doctrine of casting out devils through Beelzebub. In the days of our ignorance this may have been permissible. But now light has come into the world. A new dispensation has dawned.
    Evil must be overcome with good. Disease must be limited by supplying the conditions of health, not by producing new diseases. The medical profession no longer serves any possible end. The eyes of the people are being opened to the hard consequences of medicine's false philosophy and fatal practices. The profession, its philosophy and its practices should pass and be forgotten." Herbert Shelton 1968

    To read various articles by Dr. Shelton
    click here.
    Shelton: Man's Pristine Way Of Life, 1968, can be read free at

    "Most people's prejudices against the Hygienic System arise out of the very simplicity of its means and methods. ----- So long have we been educated to belittle and deprecate the simple health requirements of nature and to rely upon the mysterious and incomprehensible, that we find ourselves entirely unable to appreciate the adequacy of Hygienic practice." H. Shelton, 1968

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