Medical Cults of the World Part 3 - Naturopathy
By SCIENTIFIC INDIANS
Added: Fri, 09 Apr 2010 23:00:00 UTC
Naturopathy, like homeopathy, is a world-wide medical cult which had its origin in Europe. Unlike homeopathy, however, it has no single founder. It simply grew. In essence, it is a complete reliance on "nature" for healing. Medicine and surgery are used as little as possible or not at all. As might be expected, hundreds of strange methods of therapy clustered about the movement, so it is not easy to say exactly what the tenets of naturopathy are.
The earliest naturopaths were European doctors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Vincenz Priesnitz and Father Sebastian Kneipp were pioneers of hydrotherapy (water cures). Adolph Just's Return to Nature recommended sleeping on bare ground, walking barefooted on wet lawns and sand, and using clay compresses. Louis Kuhne's The New Science of Healing opposed all drugs, recommending instead the use of steam baths, sunlight, a vegetarian diet, and whole wheat bread. Heinrich Lahmann was against putting table salt on foods and drinking water at mealtimes. Antoine Bechamp defended the view that disease produces bacteria rather than the other way around. An early pioneer of naturopathy in the United States was John H. Kellogg, a Seventh Day Adventist who founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium.2 He was responsible for the great importance nature therapy plays in present Adventist beliefs. Another American, Henry Lindlahr, made the "discovery" that disease, instead of being the result of invasion of the body by harmful microbes, was really the body's natural way of healing something. Finally, there was Benedict Lust, a disciple of Father Kneipp, who perhaps should be regarded as the most important early figure in American naturopathy. He established a school in New York, resort spots in Butler, New Jersey and Tangerine, Florida, wrote many books, edited several magazines (one of which, Nature's Path, in the hands of Lust's descendants is still going lustily), and managed to get himself arrested about sixteen times in battles against the "drug trusts." His advertisements often appeared in Bernarr Macfadden's health magazines.
Macfadden himself was a great promoter of naturopathy. His monumental five-volume Encyclopedia of Physical Culture, 1912 (subtitled A work of reference, providing complete instructions for the cure of all diseases through physcultopathy), is one of the greatest of all pseudo-medical works. Volume 4 contains 572 pages devoted to an alphabetical listing of all major diseases—including Bright's disease, polio, cancer, etc.—together with Macfadden's methods of home treatment. The treatments involve, in most cases, special diets, exercises, and water therapy. Cancer, for instance, is treated with a fast, followed by exercises and a "vitality building regimen." There is no suggestion that the patient should consult a physician. In fact there is a "Word of Warning" at the beginning of the section which states, "It positively must be remembered that the methods recommended in this work cannot be combined with the internal use of drugs or medicine. An attempt to use drugs while pursuing the treatments here advocated may lead to very serious results, and is to be depended upon under no circumstances." In fairness to Macfadden it should be said that in later years he has become less extreme in his medical opinions. But not much so.3 He is firmly convinced, for example, that cancer can be cured by a diet of nothing but grapes, and a few years ago offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove it wasn't so. (The theory that a grape diet can cure all kinds of ailments has long been popular in grape growing areas of Europe, and has a literature as extensive as the literature extolling the "virtues" of goat's milk.)
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