by C Leslie Thomson
listed in naturopathy, originally published in issue 118 - December 2005
Nature Cure or Naturopathy is much more than a way of dealing with disease; it is essentially a way of looking at life; a curiosity about life and a philosophy of living. It is not 'just another cure' – to quote the words so often used by those who neither wish nor care to understand the Nature Cure viewpoint. Indeed, one can immediately spot those antagonistic to Nature Cure – no mater how impartial they seek to appear – by their attempts to diminish its scope. 'Nature Cure is just diet', 'Nature Cure is just sunbathing and eating fruit' '… just Osteopathy', '. … just faith-healing', '…just exercises' in fact, almost any one thing – except possibly just living at its highest and fullest degree.
In trying to convey something of the breadth of Nature Cure to a newcomer, over-simplification is an ever-present hazard. One must have some starting-point of understanding about the individual interests. What may be a fascinating explanation to one person can be boring and incomprehensible to another. In an attempt to establish a starting-point, eight enthusiastic followers of Nature Cure had the foregoing difficulty put before them, and they were asked to describe – briefly – the incident or philosophical item which had first given them a positive interest, and which had led them to a deeper or more active pursuit of it. The replies are worth quoting in full:
• The Nature Cure teaching about colds – how they are a supplementary method of cleaning up accumulated rubbish and how suppression of fevers and rashes by drugs brings about new diseases. That impressed me because it fitted in so exactly with my own experiences;
• The claim made by Nature Cure practitioners that only the patient can cure
himself. This, they say, the patients do when they have kept their bodies
properly fed and exercised and cleansed. The simplicity of the diet appealed to
me, too – especially the salads and the cleanness of the food;
• I despised Nature Cure doctors and their literature until I became very ill myself and a friend lent me the Intestinal Fitness book. Then quite suddenly the idea changed to common sense and I decided it should have a trial. I don't think any part of it appealed to me more than any other part, unless it was the explanation about how all life integrates with all other life and the 'law of return' for healthy soil. That 'completeness' of outlook influenced me most, I think;
• I looked down on Nature Cure until I came upon an old patient who had been cured of TB. When he explained to me your theory about how vegetables are affected by the soil they grow in, and how this affects the consumer, I became interested at once. I am a keen gardener, and for some time I had suspected the damage done by artificial manures. As a result I went to a local Naturopath and he helped me so much that I knew I had found the truth at last;
• As a child I was brought up to believe that it was romantic to cure people, but as I grew up I never could get an explanation of why the injection of poisons and animals' diseases should bring about health. Then I came upon Intestinal Fitness and the next The Heart. Between them they cleared away all my doubts and I have never looked back since;
• I had never heard of Nature Cure until a friend drew my attention to the Preface to Appendicitis – and that consolidated what I had felt for a long time but had never thought of putting into words. I would consider it to be the best statement for any beginner. It tells the whole story in one page;
• I was not interested in Nature Cure until my cousin became very ill. I watched her go through two serious illnesses and then watched her become very quickly strong and healthy after she took up Nature Cure. I then bought all the books I could on the subject and the more I read the more I became convinced of its sanity and its essential practicability;
• The fact that all your writings bring out health attainment, instead of plans for fighting disease was a refreshing change from the BMA and NHS schemes. I consider that the Preface to Appendicitis is the Nature Cure multum in parvo, but I think it might be improved. A few words might be added to explain that surgery – even at its best – can never remove causes, but deals only with results. I think every enquirer should be given that Preface to read.
The Appendicitis Preface is indeed an outstanding piece of writing. The booklet itself has been out of print for a considerable time, but the Preface has been reproduced on a few occasions since. Even if you dear reader, have previously read JC Thompson's most famous page, one more reading should do you no harm – so here it is:
Real Health is rarely placid. As a rule it is a study in dynamics, and every now and again it can assume an aspect of sheer violence. This exuberance makes for misunderstanding. People mistake healthy reactions for disease and try to stop them, particularly as health phenomena are not generally studied. Indeed, except by the Nature Cure School, health, as such is not investigated. The usual acceptance is that health is a negative quality – a mere absence of symptoms of disease. This conception is ludicrously false.
Consider a man who has swallowed a deadly fungus. If he is in a state of virile health his reactions will be sickness and diarrhoea. Not merely nausea, but a vigorous and complete emptying of the stomach and bowels. The better the health of the individual involved, the more decisive will be this demonstration of house-cleaning.
The first point to notice is that the more thorough and immediate the evacuation, the less will be the damage done to the patient. Anything which would soothe and nullify the expulsive effort would be deadly to the man, no matter how kindly and scientifically applied. It is a point of no little importance that the more efficient the method used, the more dangerous it would be for the patient.
This is a very obvious instance, but it is an illustration of the Nature Cure reasoning as applied to acute conditions. Exactly the same philosophy applies in more complex circumstances. When a poison has gathered slowly in any organ it cannot be expelled by simple sickness. A point is reached where the local tissues start a cleaning-out which may take any one of a number of forms. The simple cold or diarrhoea, the more specialized rash or abscess, or an effort involving the whole of the body's forces, such as a fever: one and all have the same purpose. All are indications for the body's healing and cleansing efforts.
To give these different cleansing symptoms different names is but to confuse the issue. Another difficulty is that if an impurity cannot be expelled at one point, it will appear later at another. Driven back here it comes out there. With each new appearance it becomes a different 'disease', and each such disease is met by its own special salve, injection, or operation. This stops the effort, the symptoms abate, and the patient continues to be 'cured', repeatedly, until he dies.
The study and treatment of symptoms is the ruling passion of the orthodox schools. The fundamental condition is not investigated. The medicals and their supporters, the great vaccine and drug houses, depend for their existence upon the continuance of symptomatic treatment. That is why Nature Cure meets with such sustained opposition, whilst at the same time our methods are being adapted to medical practice.
The source of many recent 'discoveries' is well-known to anyone familiar with Nature Cure literature. For two generations the Naturopath stood alone in teaching the health-giving qualities of sunlight, both natural and artificial. This is the face of orthodox persecution and ridicule. Now actinotherapy has been accepted and laws are to be passed to prevent the Naturopath from using his own unique modality. Perhaps we should laugh?
One day the world will learn the truth of these manoeuvres and it will laugh, but not at Nature Cure.