From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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.[1]

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.[1][2]

History and practice[edit]

19th century[edit]

The orthopathy movement originated with Isaac Jennings in the 1820s, who practiced conventional medicine for many years but became discouraged with its results.[3][4] Jennings' system was firmly opposed to all medicine and was known as the "no-medicine plan".[4][5] He prescribed bathing, rest and a vegetarian diet as part of his system.[6][7]

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.[8][9] The APS was the first natural hygiene organization in the United States.[9] Mary Gove Nichols lectured for the Ladies Physiological Society, an off-shoot of the APS.[9] 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.[10]

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."[5]

Natural hygiene was often associated with vegetarianism during the nineteenth century. However, not all natural hygienists are vegetarians.[11] 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.[12]

In 1887, Susanna Way Dodds and her sister Mary established the Hygienic College of Physicians and Surgeons in St. Louis, Missouri.[13][14] They focused on "natural methods of treatment: diet, exercise, massage, electricity and hydrotherapy in all of its manifold applications".[14]

During the 1880s, Thomas Allinson developed his theory of medicine, which he called 'Hygienic Medicine.'

20th century[edit]

Natural hygienist George S. Weger managed Weger Health School in Redlands, California (1923-1935).[15]

Herbert M. Shelton who has been described as "the twentieth century's premier natural hygienist", was influenced by Sylvester Graham and Russell T. Trall.[16] Shelton wrote much on the topic, beginning with The Hygienic System: Orthopathy[17] 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.)[1]

Interest in NH was renewed in the 1980s following publication of Fit for Life and Living Health by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.[1]


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.[18] In 1998, the ANHS became the National Health Association.[19]

In 1956, Keki Sidhwa established the British Natural Hygiene Society (BNHS).[20][21]

The International Association of Hygienic Physicians was founded in 1978.[1] The International Natural Hygiene Society was founded in 2003 and has reported over 800 members.[1]


Medical experts consider natural hygiene practices such as anti-vaccination, fasting and food combining to be quackery.[1][22][23] There is no scientific evidence that prolonged fasting provides any significant health benefits.[22][24][25] A prolonged fast may cause "anemia, impairment of liver function, kidney stones, postural hypotension, mineral imbalances, and other undesirable side effects."[25]

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.[26] 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.[27]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Barrett, Stephen (2007-01-01). "A Critical Look at "Natural Hygiene"". Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  2. ^ Barrett, Stephen; Herbert, Victor. Questionable Practices in Foods and Nutrition: Definitions and Descriptions. (2002). In Carolyn D. Berdanier. Handbook of Nutrition and Food. CRC Press. p. 1493. ISBN 0-8493-2705-9
  3. ^ Orcutt, Samuel; Beardsley, Ambrose. (1880). The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642-1880. With Biographies and Genealogies. Press of Springfield Printing Company. pp. 601-603
  4. ^ a b Lelieveld, H. L. M; Holah, John; Mostert, M. A. (2005). Handbook of Hygiene Control in the Food Industry. Woodhead Publishing Limited. pp. 3-4. ISBN 978-1-85573-957-4
  5. ^ a b Whorton, James C. (2016 edition). Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers. Princeton University Press. pp. 135-136. ISBN 978-0691641898
  6. ^ Fletcher, Robert Samuel. (1943). A History of Oberlin College From its Foundation Through the Civil War. Oberlin College. p. 332
  7. ^ Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Praeger Publishing. pp. 28-29. ISBN 978-0275975197
  8. ^ "An American "Physiological" Society Of 1837". The British Medical Journal. 2 (4057): 757. January 1, 1938. JSTOR 20300989.
  9. ^ a b c Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Praeger Publishing. pp. 36-38. ISBN 978-0275975197
  10. ^ Engs, Ruth Clifford. (2000). Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 96. ISBN 0-275-97541-X
  11. ^ Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Praeger Publishing. p. 104. ISBN 978-0275975197
  12. ^ Baer, Hans A. (2001). Biomedicine and Alternative Healing Systems in America: Issues of Class, Race, Ethnicity and Gender. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-299-16694-5
  13. ^ Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Praeger Publishing. p. 118. ISBN 978-0275975197
  14. ^ a b Fisher, Carol. (2008). Pot Roast, Politics, and Ants in the Pantry: Missouri's Cookbook Heritage. University Of Missouri Press. pp. 19-20. ISBN 978-0-8262-1791-2
  15. ^ Anonymous. (1936). Bulletin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine 1935-1936. University of Maryland School of Medicine. p. 48
  16. ^ Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Praeger Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 978-0275975197
  17. ^ Herbert M Shelton, The Hygienic System vol. VI: Orthopathy, Dr. Shelton's Health School: San Antonio, Texas, 1941
  18. ^ "National Health Association Timeline". Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  19. ^ "History of the National Health Association". Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  20. ^ "British Natural Hygiene Society". Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  21. ^ "Dr Keki Sidhwa, 92: Energetic advocate of natural cures". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Pepper, Claude. (1984). Quackery: A $10 Billion Dollar Scandal. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 94
  23. ^ "Natural Hygiene: Health Without Medicine (or Wisdom)". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  24. ^ Kuske, Terrence T. (1983). Quackery and Fad Diets. In Elaine B. Feldman. Nutrition in the Middle and Later Years. John Wright & Sons. pp. 291-303. ISBN 0-7236-7046-3
  25. ^ a b Barrett, Stephen; Jarvis, William T. (1993). The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America. Prometheus Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-87975-855-4
  26. ^ "Fasting". cancer.org. American Cancer Society. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  27. ^ 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. PMC 3946160. PMID 24440038. Retrieved 20 February 2015.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)