It is a pity that "nature-cure" has come to be known as "naturopathy" because this does not describe it very well. Naturopathy is not something wrong with nature, but the use of natural bodily mechanisms to set right something that has gone wrong through neglect or misuse of these mechanisms.
These 'natural laws of life' include:- adequate sleep and rest, exposure to fresh air, sunshine and warmth, ingestion of wholesome food derived from wholesome soil, getting all the nutrients the body needs, sufficient exercise (including aerobic, strength and flexibility), mental and emotional poise, faith in the body to renew, repair and rejuvenate.
Respect for natural principles has always been rooted deeply in all systems of medicine throughout history, but has been weakened during the past fifty years by greater and greater reliance on drugs and surgery. Now that we have had a chance to appreciate the full implications of modern therapy, however, there is a strong reaction against it for several very good reasons:
Most drugs only relieve symptoms, they do not cure their cause; All drugs rob Peter to pay Paul: their benefits are at the expense of some other part of you. This commonly shows itself as side effects or adverse reactions, which are almost inescapable in long-term drug therapy (the exception is replacement therapy with hormones like insulin and thyroid, see diabetes and always cold).
Few drugs (other than replacement hormones) can sustain their effect in long-term use. When their benefits are exhausted they leave you in a worse condition than when you began with them. Many of these remarks about drugs apply equally well to surgery. In addition surgeons tend to wait until their patients are bad enough to warrant surgery, meanwhile offering no preventative advice.
People with a strong streak of common sense are suspicious of anything based entirely on special technology. This is why a natural therapy tradition has survived in this country despite an adverse official attitude and unfavourable terms of competition with the nationally sponsored medical system. It would be supported more strongly still if it called for less personal effort and had more immediate results. Without their ‘magic wand’ reputation, modern therapies would probably never have caught on.
The essential principles of natural therapy are very simple:
a. To be healthy in itself, your body requires an amplevariety of fresh food from healthy plants and animals (see food for health).
b. You must not allow your body to accumulate waste products or poisonous chemicals it cannot get rid of. That means both avoiding these things in the first place and making sure that your waste disposal system is always fully operational.
c. Respiration sets limits on the maximum power of everything else, so good breathing is a vital priority. If you do not use it, you will loose it.
d. Your body needs to practice all its skills and faculties regularly, and a young body in particular needs challenges of all kinds to encourage it grow into its full potential.
e. Your vitality is a distinct part of you, over and above your chemical and mechanical flesh. Vitality needs to be fanned like a flame, and its heat must be distributed smoothly and evenly to all parts of your body.
f. Human beings do not exist in their own right but within an environment. Health calls for a right thinking relationship to all the people and other living things in that environment, and for wholesome self-sufficient interaction with it.
What to do
1. Study the principles of good diet and one by one make habits of them (see food for health and vegetarian diets). Do not however get carried away with food chemistry. Think of food and eating more like a gourmet, studying to make your digestion comfortable and your meals enjoyable. Then your bowel function will come into order all by itself and your appetite will take care of your needs more and more reliably.
2. Many of the chemical residues left in food from modern agriculture and food processing are quite alien to your body so that even quite small amounts can accumulate and upset it. Avoid these by buying and growing ‘organic’ produce, preferably certified by one of the organic standards bodies — The Soil Association, The Biodynamic Agriculture Association, Farm Verified Organic or Organic Farmers and Growers.
3. Learn to breathe efficiently and practice it every day. Apart from its importance to respiration you get rid of a lot of waste through your breath, including many chemical pollutants.
4. Learn to use water constructively both inside and outside your body (see water and bathing). In particular, never finish a hot bath without a final splash of cold water, at least on your limbs.
5. You do not need a lot of physical exercise to stay efficient, but you need some. Move about briskly and avoid driving when you can cycle or walk. This combines well with good breathing.
6. Let the air get to your body. Wear clothing loose and light enough to prevent dampness and overheating. Beware however of short intense spells of sunbathing; take the sun steadily and with respect for its power.
7. Keep your skin tough and healthy by rubbing it vigorously with a dry towel or loofa every day. Do the same for your scalp by brushing your hair vigorously for at least three minutes daily (see dandruff).
8. Maintain a positive attitude to life and other people (see yourself).
9. Take unhappiness or uneasiness seriously, and never put off sorting it out. That way you pre-empt development of most of life’s problems, barring only those over which you have no control anyway (see staying well).
10. Treat disease as a signal and opportunity for change in the way you live. Never give way to an ‘invalid’ frame of mind.
11. Death is neither a friend nor an enemy, but a certainty. Take the prospect in your stride (see facing death) and face it with dignity and a good grace at the proper time.