Herbert M. Shelton

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Herbert M. Shelton

Herbert McGolfin Shelton (October 6, 1895 – January 1, 1985)[1] was an American naturopath, alternative medicine advocate, author, pacifist, vegetarian, and a supporter of rawism and fasting. Shelton was nominated by the American Vegetarian Party to run as its candidate for President of the United States in 1956. He saw himself as the champion of original natural hygiene ideas from the 1830s. His ideas have been described as quackery by critics.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Shelton was born on October 6, 1895 in Wylie, Texas to Thomas Mitchell Shelton and Mary Frances Gutherie Shelton, who were devoted Christians. As a child, Shelton took an interest in animals, especially their habits when sick as compared to when well. He was especially intrigued by their fasting when the farm animals became sick.[4]


Shelton attended Bernarr Macfadden's College of Physcultopathy [sic] in Chicago and interned at Crane's Sanatorium in Elmhurst, Illinois. He also attended Lindlahr College of Natural Therapeutics for post-graduate work and served at Lindlahr's and Sahler's Sanatoriums. Shelton later continued post-graduate work at Peerless College of Chiropractic in Illinois and served an internship at Crandall Health School in Pennsylvania.

In 1921, he married Ida Pape, studied at the American School of Chiropractic, and graduated from the American School of Naturopathy with a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND). He preached that cooking food denatures it, and that a healthy body has the ability to restore itself from illness without medical intervention. Although heavily criticized by his contemporaries for advocating fasting over medical treatment, Shelton's work remains also relevant as an early influence of the raw food movement.[2][3]

In 1922, Shelton self-published his first book, Fundamentals of Nature Cure. Seeing importance in the Hygienic Movement (launched in 1832 by Dr. Isaac Jennings and Sylvester Graham), he changed the title of this first book to An Introduction to Natural Hygiene. A later book, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting, exerted an influence on Mahatma Gandhi, who consulted the book before undertaking public fasts.[citation needed]

Shelton is credited with reviving the Natural Hygiene movement founded by Sylvester Graham.[5] He ran a health school in San Antonio, Texas even after becoming bedridden.[6]

Legal history[edit]

A pacifist, Shelton was jailed in 1917 for making an anti-draft statement in public.

In 1927, he was arrested, jailed, and fined three times for practicing medicine without a license. These arrests continued periodically through the next three decades while he continued to lecture and campaign for his ideas.[4]

In 1932, Shelton was jailed repeatedly for practicing medicine without a license. Found guilty of violating the Medical Practice Act, he served 30 days on Rikers Island.

In 1942, Shelton was charged with negligent homicide and "treating and offering to treat a human being without a state medical license" for starving a patient to death.[4] The case was never tried and charges were dropped.

In 1978, another patient died at one of his schools, this time apparently of a heart attack. After a two-year-long court battle, Shelton lost the lawsuit for negligence and was bankrupted by the judgment.[4] The school closed as a result.


By 1972, at the age of 77, he was completely bedridden from a degenerative neuro-muscular disease believed to be Parkinson's disease.[4] He died thirteen years later, unable to improve his own health despite many attempts. His contemporaries were shocked to see him unable to walk, speak normally, or write.[1]

Toward the end of his life, most of his subsequent books were dictated in a whisper. He continued his involvement in Dr Shelton's Health School (now the seventh organization under that name).

In 1989, four years after his death, a biography of Shelton was published: Yours for Health: The Life and Times of Herbert M. Shelton by Jean A. Oswald.[1]


  • Shelton, Herbert M. An Introduction to Natural Hygiene. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Colds (Acute Coryza) and Related Subjects. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Facts About Fasting (1977).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Fasting Can Save Your Life (Sep. 1996 ).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Fasting for Renewal of Life. (1995)
  • Shelton, Herbert M. (1935). The Hygienic System, Vol. II: Orthotrophy. San Antonio, Texas: Library of New Atlantis. ISBN 1-57179-415-8. OCLC 32372334. 
  • Shelton, Herbert M. (1934). The Hygienic System: Fasting and Sun Bathing, Vol. III: Fasting and Sun Bathing for Healing Disease. San Antonio, Texas: self-published. OCLC 8413951. 
  • The Hygienic System: Vol VI Orthopathy, 1939, Dr. Shelton's Health School, San Antonio, Texas.[1]
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Food and Feeding. Kessinger Publishing Company ISBN 0766145905 (Jan. 2003).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Food and Feeding. Kessinger Publishing Company ISBN 0-7661-4590-5 (Jan. 2003).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. et al., Getting Well. Health Research. UPC/ ISBN 0-7873-0778-5 (June 1993).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Health for All. (Jan. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Health for the Millions. (1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Human Beauty: Its Culture and Hygiene (1039 pages)
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Human Life Its Philosophy and Laws: An Exposition of the Principles and Practices of Orthopathy. (Jan 1996). ISBN 1564597148
  • Shelton, Herbert M. History of Natural Hygiene and Principles of Natural Hygiene - Teachings of Doctors Jennings, Graham, Trall and Tilden. (Jan. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Hygienic Review. (Sep 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. The Liver and Its Complaints. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Living Life to Live It Longer. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Natural Hygiene: Man's Pristine Way of Life. Library of New Atlantis, Incorporated UPC/ ISBN 1-57179-407-7 (Feb. 2003).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Natural Hygiene: The Pristine Way of Life (1994).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. / Willard, Jo / Oswald, Jean A.. The Original Natural Hygiene Weight Loss Diet Book (1986) Keats Publishing, Inc. New Canaan, Connecticut ISBN 0-87983-376-9
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Orthobionomics: Hygienic System. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Rubies in the Sand
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Science and Fine Art of Food and Nutrition. (1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene (420 pages)
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Superior Nutrition (197 pages)
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Syphilis: Werewolf of Medicine. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. Vaccine and Serum Evils. (Sep. 1996).
  • Shelton, Herbert M. et al. The Virgin Birth: The Famous Debate Between Herbert M. Shelton and George R. Clements. Health Research. UPC/ ISBN 0-7873-1173-1 (Jan. 1998).


  1. ^ a b c Oswald, Jean A. (1989). Yours for Health: The Life and Times of Herbert M. Shelton. Franklin Books. ISBN 9780962049002
  2. ^ a b Butler, Kurt. (1992). A Consumer's Guide to "Alternative Medicine": A Close Look at Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Faith-healing, and Other Unconventional Treatments. Prometheus Books. pp. 13-14. ISBN 0-87975-733-7
  3. ^ a b Raso, Jack. (1993). Vitalistic Gurus and Their Legacies. In Stephen Barrett. The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America. Prometheus Books. pp. 236-240. ISBN 0-87975-855-4
  4. ^ a b c d e Bidwell, Victoria. "Timeline for the Life & Hard Times of Dr. Shelton". Soil and Health Library. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  5. ^ Barrett, M.D., Stephen (January 1, 2007). "A Critical Look at "Natural Hygiene"". Quackwatch. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  6. ^ Vetrano, Virginia. "Continued interview with Dr. Virginia Vetrano - #4". NATURAL HEALTH & ENERGY. International Natural Hygiene Society. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 

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