Orthopathy (from the Greek ὀρθός orthos "right" and πάθος pathos "suffering") or Natural Hygiene (NH) is a set of alternative medical beliefs and practices originating from the Nature Cure movement. Proponents claim that fasting, dieting, and other lifestyle measures are all that is necessary to prevent and treat disease.
Natural hygiene is an offshoot of naturopathy that advocates a philosophy of "natural living" that was developed in the early nineteenth century. Natural hygienists oppose drugs, fluoridation, immunization, most medical treatments and endorse fasting, food combining and raw food or vegetarian diets.
History and practice
The orthopathy movement originated with Isaac Jennings in the 1820s, who practiced conventional medicine for many years but became discouraged with its results. Jennings' system was firmly opposed to all medicine and was known as the "no-medicine plan". He prescribed bathing, rest and a vegetarian diet as part of his system.
In 1837, Colonel John Benson, Sylvester Graham and William Alcott founded the American Physiological Society (APS) in Boston to promote Grahamism, which lasted just three years. The APS was the first natural hygiene organization in the United States. Mary Gove Nichols lectured for the Ladies Physiological Society, an off-shoot of the APS. In the 1840s, Joel Shew was influenced by the dieting ideas of Sylvester Graham and promoted natural hygiene practices such as bathing, exercise and massage as well as the elimination of alcohol and tobacco.
Isaac Jennings in his 1867 book The Tree of Life, defined orthopathy as "from orthos, right, true, erect; and pathos, affection. Nature is always upright—moving in the right direction."
Natural hygiene was often associated with vegetarianism during the nineteenth century. However, not all natural hygienists are vegetarians. Russell T. Trall was a notable early proponent of natural hygiene and vegetarianism. Trall established his own version called "hygeiotherapy", a mixture of hydrotherapy with diet and exercise treatment regimes.
In 1887, Susanna Way Dodds and her sister Mary established the Hygienic College of Physicians and Surgeons in St. Louis, Missouri. They focused on "natural methods of treatment: diet, exercise, massage, electricity and hydrotherapy in all of its manifold applications".
During the 1880s, Thomas Allinson developed his theory of medicine, which he called 'Hygienic Medicine.'
Herbert M. Shelton who has been described as "the twentieth century's premier natural hygienist", was influenced by Sylvester Graham and Russell T. Trall. Shelton wrote much on the topic, beginning with The Hygienic System: Orthopathy in 1939, which renamed orthopathy as 'Natural Hygiene.'
Consumption of 'incompatible' foods in one meal is said to lead to ill health, and consumption of 'compatible' foods is said to maintain it: Shelton defined food combining and seven groups of food, sorted by function as: supplying energy (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) needed to build the body (proteins, salts, and water) and regulating bodily processes (minerals, vitamins, and water.)
In 1948, the American Natural Hygiene Society (ANHS) was founded by Herbert Shelton, William Esser, Gerald Benesh, Christopher Gian-Cursio, Jesse Mercer Gehman, Irving Davidson, Jack Dunn Trop and Symon Gould. In 1998, the ANHS became the National Health Association.
Medical experts consider natural hygiene practices such as anti-vaccination, fasting and food combining to be quackery. There is no scientific evidence that prolonged fasting provides any significant health benefits. A prolonged fast may cause "anemia, impairment of liver function, kidney stones, postural hypotension, mineral imbalances, and other undesirable side effects."
According to the American Cancer Society there is no scientific evidence supporting fasting as a cancer treatment in humans; however, they point to a number of studies where researchers were looking at rodents or humans with cancers and noticed some positive results after fasting was applied. Valter Longo, biologist who studied anti-aging properties and medical applications of fasting, recommends that prolonged fasts lasting 3 or more days should be done under the supervision of a physician.
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