Orthopathy (from the Greek ortho- right- + 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.
Orthopathy is against most mainstream and alternative medical treatment, with the exception of surgery in certain situations, such as for broken bones and to "remove a deadly secondary cause." In eschewing medical care and incorporating unsound dietary advice, NH poses a risk to the health of people who follow it.
History and practice
Orthopathy is described by Natural Hygiene inventor Herbert M. Shelton as follows:
Disease action no less than health action, is right action; yet it occasions suffering because of adverse conditions that have been imposed upon the body. So, by the term Orthopathy we mean right suffering.
The orthopathy movement originated with Isaac Jennings, who, after practicing traditional medicine for 20 years in Derby, Connecticut, began formulating his ideas about it in 1822. Several other mostly later thinkers, including Sylvester Graham, likewise from Connecticut, influenced the movement or are considered important to it. Also, during the 1880s, Thomas Allinson developed his theory of medicine, which he called 'Hygienic Medicine.'
Shelton wrote much on the topic, beginning with The Hygienic System: Orthopathy in 1939, which renamed orthopathy as "Natural Hygiene".
Shelton distinguished the method of Nature Cure from other medical schools of thought of its time, including naturopathy, heliopathy (sun cure,) homeopathy, 'bio-chemic', and what Shelton called allopathy (mainstream medicine.) Shelton originally recommended an almost vegetarian diet, then later a vegetarian one, then later a vegan one, but there are people who follow Natural Hygiene ideas and disagree with him.
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.)
Several NH associations currently exist, including the National Health Association, which was founded by Shelton as the American Natural Hygiene Society, which condones The International Association of Hygienic Physicians was founded in 1978. The International Natural Hygiene Society was founded in 2003. but does not adhere to Shelton's later ideas.
According to Quackwatch, "Natural Hygiene is dangerous because it encourages prolonged fasting and discourages proven medical interventions." According to 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.
- Barrett, Stephen (2007-01-01). "A Critical Look at "Natural Hygiene"". Retrieved 2009-04-15.
- Herbert M Shelton, The Hygienic System vol. VI: Orthopathy, Dr. Shelton's Health School: San Antonio, Texas, 1941
- Samuel Orcutt, Ambrose Beardsley, The history of the old town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642-1880: With biographies and genealogies. Press of Springfield Printing Co., 1880, p. 601
- [non-primary source needed][unreliable source?]Fielder, John L., ed. (2001). Handbook of Natural Hygiene. Academy of Natural Living. ISBN 0958661154.
- "Fasting". cancer.org. American Cancer Society. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- V. D. Longo, M. P. Mattson (2014). "Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications". Cell Metabolism (Elsevier) 19 (2): 181–192. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.12.008. Retrieved 20 February 2015.