Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy or natural medicine) is a complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the body's innate ability to heal and maintain itself. Naturopathic practice includes many different modalities and practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments.
Naturopaths prefer to use natural remedies such as herbs and foods rather than surgery or synthetic drugs. If the patient does not respond to these treatments, they are generally referred to physicians who utilize standard medical care to treat the disease or condition.
History of Naturopathic Medicine
Some see the ancient Greek "Father of Medicine", Hippocrates, as the first advocate of naturopathic medicine. In India, Naturopathic Medicine is often considered a part of Ayurveda.The Swastha Vritta described in Ayurveda is basically Naturopathy.
The modern Nature Cure movement was started in Germany and other western countries with water cure (Hydrotherapy). Water cure has been synonymous with Nature Cure in those early days. The credit of making water cure world famous goes to Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1851). In Scotland, Dr Thomas Allinson started advocating naturopathy in the 1880s, promoting a natural diet and exercise with avoidance of tobacco and overwork.
In the USA, the term naturopathy was coined before 1900 by John Scheel, and used by Benedict Lust. Lust had been schooled in hydrotherapy and other natural health practices in Germany by Father Sebastian Kneipp, who sent Lust to the United States to bring them Kneipp's methods. In 1905, Lust founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York, the first naturopathic college in the United States. Lust took great strides in promoting the profession, culminating in passage of licensing laws in several states prior to 1935, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington and the founding of several naturopathic colleges.
Naturopathic medicine went into decline, along with most other natural health professions, after the 1930s, with the discovery of penicillin and advent of synthetic drugs such as antibiotics and corticosteroids. In the post-war era, Lust's death, conflict between various schools of natural medicine (homeopathy, eclectics, physio-medicalism, herbalism, naturopathy, etc.), and the rise of medical technology were all contributing factors.
One of the most visible steps towards the profession's modern renewal was the opening in 1956 of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. This was the first of the modern naturopathic medical schools offering four-year naturopathic medical training with the intention of integrating science with naturopathic principles and practice. Today there are six accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America.
The revival of Nature Cure started in India by translation of Louis Kuhnes book "New Science of Healing". Shri Shroti Kishan Swaroop of Bijnor translated this book in Hindi and Urdu languages in about 1904. Shri D. Venkat Chelapati Sharma translated the book in Telugu language in about 1894. This gave a vide propagation to this therapy.
Later on, Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by the book "Return to Nature" written by Adolf Just and become a firm believer of Naturopathy. He not only wrote several articles in favour of Naturopathy in his newspaper "Harijan" but did its several experiments too on himself, on his family members and on the members of Ashram. Gandhiji included it in his constructive programmes and also established a Nature Cure Hospital in Urli Kanchan near Pune which is still functioning. Due to the influence of Gandhiji several national leaders joined this method of treatment in which the names of Ex. Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai, Ex. Governor of Gujrat Shri Mannarayanji, Ex. President of India, Shri V. V. Giri. Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Shri Balkova Bhave are specially mentionable.
Concepts and Principles
Basic Concepts In fact, Nature Cure is a way of life of which we find a number of references in the Vedas and other ancient texts. The morbid matter theory, concept of vital force and other concepts upon which Nature Cure is based are already available in old texts which indicate that these methods were widely practised in ancient India. The whole practice of Nature cure based on the following three principles:
- Accumulation of morbid matter
- Abnormal composition of blood and lymph
- Lowered vitality
Nature Cure believes that all the diseases arise due to accumulation of morbid matter in the body and if scope is given for its removal, it provides cure or relief. It also believes that the human body possesses inherent self constructing and self healing powers. The fundamental difference in Nature Cure with other systems is that its theory and practice are based on holistic view point whereas the later’s approach is specific. Nature Cure does not believe in the specific cause of disease and its specific treatment but takes into account the totality of factors responsible for diseases such as one’s un-natural habits in living, thinking, working, sleeping, relaxation, sexual indulgence etc, and also considers the environmental factors involved which on the whole disturbs the normal functioning of the body and lead it to a morbid, weak and toxic state. For treatment it primarily stresses on correcting all the factors involved and allowing the body to recover itself. A Nature Cure physician helps in Nature’s effort to overcome disease by applying correct natural modalities and controlling the natural forces to work within safe limits. The five main modalities of treatment are air, water, heat, mud and space.
- All disease, their cause and their treatment are one.
- The basic cause of disease is not bacteria. Bacteria develops after the accumulation of morbid matter when a favourable atmosphere for their growth develops in body. Basic cause is morbid matter and not the bacteria.
- Acute diseases are our friends not he enemies. Chronic diseases are the outcome of wrong treatment and suppression of the acute diseases.
- Nature is the greatest healer. Body the capacity to prevent itself from diseases and regain health if unhealthy.
- In Naturopathy patient is treated and not the disease.
- In Naturopathy diagnosis is easily possible. Ostentation is not required. Long waiting for diagnosis is not required for treatment.
- Patients suffering from chronic ailments are also treated successfully in comparatively less time in Naturopathy.
- After emerging, suppressed diseases can be cured by Naturopathy.
- Nature Cure treats physical, mental, social (moral) and spiritual all four aspects at the same time.
- Nature Cure treats body as a whole instead of giving treatment to each organ separetely.
- Naturopathy does not use medicines. According to Naturopathy "Food is Medicine".
- According to Gandhi Ji "Rama Nama is the best Natural Treatment", means doing prayer according to one’s spiritual faith is an important part of treatment.
In short, Nature Cure includes all the available non-in vasive treatments and diagnostic modalities which do not interefere with the body’s natural functional capacity and healing process and are in affirmity with Nature’s constructive Principles.
Develoment and its Status
Naturopathy is a system of healing science stimulating the body’s inherent power to regain health with the help of five great elements of nature – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether. Naturopathy is a call to "Return to Nature" and to resort to simple way of living in harmony with the self, society and environment. Naturopathy provides not only a simple practical approach to the management of diseases, but a firm theoretical basis which is applicable to all the holistic medical care and by giving attention to the foundations of health; also offers a more economical frame work for the medicine of future generation. Though the basic Nature Cure deals only with Pancha Mahabhoota’s, the recent developments advocates the practice of drugless therapies like Massage, Electrotherapy, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture and Acupressure, Magnetotherapy etc., Diet plays a major role, above all. History Nature Cure movement started in Germany & other western countries with "Water cure" (Hydrotherapy). Water cure was synonymous with Nature Cure in those early days. The credit of making Water cure world famous goes to Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1851) who was a farmer. Dr. Henry Lindlahr and others go to the extent of crediting him as "Father of Naturopathy". The word "Naturopathy" has been coined by Dr. John Scheel in the year 1895 and was propagated and popularised in the western world by Dr. Benedict Lust. A number of Doctors of modern medicine and others became Nature Cure enthusiasts and gradually added a number of modalities within the fold of Naturopathy and scientifically developed them. Nature Cure movement gained momentum in India as Mahatma Gandhi, "Father of the Nation" became much interested in this system and included it in his programmes. He has also established a Nature Cure Hospital in Uruli Kanchan, Distt. Poona, Maharashtra which is still functioning. Background Naturopathy adopts the following diagnostic methods:
- Full life case history – covering all the facts of life, since birth.
- Facial diagnosis – the science of facial expressions by studying the various characteristic features upon the body.
- Iris diagnosis – study of iris indicating the condition of various visceral organs.
- Modern clinical diagnosis to some extent.
The methods applied for cure in Naturopathy are the following:
- Water Therapy: Water is the most ancient of all the remedial agents. It is employed in different forms in treatment and produces several types of physiological effects depending upon temperature and duration. Hydrotherapy is employed in almost all types of disease conditions.
- Air Therapy: Fresh air is essential for good health. Air therapy is employed in different pressures and temperatures in variety of disease conditions.
- Fire Therapy: Existence of all the creatures and forms depends upon “Agni” (Fire). In Nature Cure treatment, different temperatures are employed through different heating techniques to produce different specific effects.
- Space Therapy: Congestion causes disease. Fasting is the best therapy to relieve congestion of body and mind.
- Mud Therapy: Mud absorbs, dissolves and eliminates the toxins and rejuvenates the body. It is employed in treatment of various diseases like constipation, skin diseases etc.
- Food Therapy: Most of the disease are amenable through food therapy. As you eat so will you be physically as well as mentally. Your food is your medicine. These are the main slogans of Nature Cure.
- Massage Therapy: Massage is generally employed for tonic, stimulant and sedative effects. It is an effective substitute for exercise.
- Acupressure: There are different points on hands, feet & body which are associated with different organs. By applying pressure on these selected points, related organs can be influenced for getting rid of their ailments.
- Magnetotherapy: Magnets influence health. South and North poles of different powers and shapes are employed in treatment, by applying directly on different parts of the body or through charged up water or oil.
- Chromotherapy: Sun rays have seven colours – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. These colours are employed through irradiation or body or by administering charged water, oil and pills for treatment.