The basic approach to diet and health. Instead of concentrating on individual diseases, to be treated by some specific measures, such as an irregular heartbeat by digitalis, all parts of the body and their functions receive attention. Any harmful habit such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating food that has been tampered with by the food industry such as white flour and white rice, has to be avoided.
I had learned in the Hospital for Sick Children how important correct feeding was for the health of the whole organism. I had also seen that the stimulation of the skin by a mustard bath encourages breathing and that fresh air is also an important factor in clearing an inflammation of the lungs. This holistic approach involves the patient’s full co-operation and understanding of the principle of wholeness.
the link between therapy and life choices
Natural Therapy, which involves the patient’s responsibility for his or her health, thus also involves the realisation of ethical freedom. I had to discover to what an extent different people are prepared to change their lifestyle, how social habits must be considered and individual preferences and dislikes taken into consideration. Natural Therapy has remained a central piece in my medical practice.
the movement expanding
When I started my own practice in London in l936 I joined the Nature Cure Clinic where I met other doctors who shared my views and we exchanged accounts of our treatments. The clinic also made contacts with osteopaths, chiropractors, and masseurs. All their experiences were invaluable sources of inspiration. I published three books on Natural Therapy and gave it a prominent place in my publications on the philosophy which underlies the practice of medicine.
I changed my own lifestyle, became a vegetarian and treated any feverish illness by applying cold compresses to my skin and reducing my diet. On one occasion I was admitted to a Natural Therapy establishment and fasted on water for about fourteen days: a very valuable spiritual experience! I learned to understand my own body’s needs and the strength of my convictions.
During the many years since I started Natural Therapy, many people have joined this movement and Health Shops have become very popular. I buy food there myself and obtain wholemeal bread and other whole foods. However, I avoid taking tablets, whether vitamins or minerals, sold by these shops. It is much more beneficial to obtain these elements from foods and not from a bottle.
I recognise the limitations of Natural Therapy and use the treatments of scientific medicine where natural methods cannot be expected to succeed. A dogmatic approach is not productive.
I discovered many other possibilities which are open to people who practice various systems of movement and relaxation. They are all parts of Natural Therapy. I found Schultz’s system, which combines relaxation with concentration on bodily functions which are experienced as heaviness, warmth, heartbeat and awareness of the nerve plexus in the abdomen, to be a most useful part of Natural Therapy. It is called Autogenic Training.
factors against natural therapy
Which are the factors which prevent people to accept the obvious value of Natural Therapy? People may feel that they must enjoy their lives and they may consider that giving up stimulants such as tea and coffee and cigarettes deprives them of such enjoyment. It is an extraordinary fact that millions of people kill themselves by smoking and by eating wrong foods.
There is no doubt that people become addicted to such harmful habits and breaking of such addiction may be extremely difficult. In any case, the harmful effects are not immediately obvious. They may occur after years of smoking or eating excessive amounts of sweets or fats. Millions of people in the Western world are over-weight which is known to have a very harmful effect on their bodies, making them liable to suffer from a variety of diseases. It is thus to a large extent a cultural problem, a problem concerned with values which people accept and by which they live. If these are harmful to their health, a change in values can only be achieved if people recognise that they themselves do not approve of the faulty habits. This means that their own conscience tells them that they ought to change their attitude towards life. This ethical fundamental approach became the most crucial aspect in my psychotherapy which will be discussed more fully later.
the link between natural therapy and ecology
Public opinion and Government policies have moved into the direction of Natural Therapy. The soil on which our foods are grown is a basic consideration. It is teeming with life, its living structure consists of bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and other microscopic organisms. They convert dead organic matter into its constituents and thus recycle it so that it becomes available for life. The blue-green algae are of special importance. They fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and thus promote the yield of this vital substance, contributing one-third of the available nitrogen for crops.
This life in the soil is being destroyed by pesticides which also contaminate the water supplies in the ground. Artificial chemical fertilisers add to the destruction of soil life and industrial toxic waste greatly increases the damage to the life in the soil.
Farmers have been encouraged to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and some farms operate entirely without these and sell their produce to the public which gladly pay a higher price. Industry is being made responsible for the damage, caused by the discharge of toxic substances into the soil which harms millions of people.
It needed scientific evidence that a destruction of the life in the soil is wrong. Natural Therapists have expressed this view before the scientists supplied the proof of something that is obvious. The harmful effects of car fumes are now being tackled to some extent and the damage to the ozone layer by the use of certain substances, mostly by Western countries, is also taken seriously. Speaking generally, we have to realise that we live in an age which is dominated by industries which have only one aim: to make the greatest possible profits.
The food industry concerns Natural Therapy very closely. It adds over l,500 substances to our food, none of which have nutritive value. Each substance is tested in isolation for harmful effects and is passed when none have been found. But no tests are carried out to determine the effects of a combination of these substances, nor of the methods which are employed: bleaching, colouring, dehydration, emulsifying and others. A recent ‘triumph’ of the food industry is the synthesis of food artificially by various means. The criticism is the use of analytical science which simply cannot do justice to the complexity of whole life.
In Natural Therapy which includes prevention of illness, treatment does justice to this mysterious complexity and thus finds itself in opposition to science. It also accepts science where its own primary approach fails. It provides opportunities for people to keep well or to get well relying on their own initiatives.
attitude to nature
As a Natural Therapist I approach Nature, which includes my patients, with reverence, being aware of life’s inscrutability. I have also accepted certain treatments which are holistic as allies to Natural Therapy, as they do not interfere with the wholeness of the organism. They are applied to patients but do not demand the consideration of people’s lifestyle – that active co-operation which Natural Therapists expect. Thus I have added homeopathy as an ally to Natural Therapy.