A Brief History of Nature Cure and Natural Therapeutics

Robert Stevens, N.D., L.M.T.
Director of the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics


“Only God and Nature heal.” (Randolph Stone, D.O., D.C., and N.D.)
The use of nature for healing began in the dawn of human history.
Primitive peoples thought that illness was a form of punishment sent
by the gods.


They performed ceremonies to placate the gods so that their suffering
would be removed. Eventually, gifted individuals turned to nature for
answers. They observed the effect of elemental, environmental,
seasonal, emotional, cyclical, and climatic changes on the members
of their community.


They also watched how wild animals instinctively heal themselves.
These early observations and practices formed the basis of a simple
yet powerful system of healing that became known as Nature Cure. For
thousands of years, healing with nature was the only curative means
available to humanity.


Indigenous peoples accumulated a treasure of healing knowledge,
wisdom, and experience. This treasure was passed down through the
generations to worthy pupils who spent long years in apprenticeship
to healers. With the advent of modern life and its disruptive effect
on native cultures, we can only imagine how much of this priceless
knowledge was lost.


Health can be defined as our ability to love unconditionally. Well-
being is not static. Nature is always offering the possibility of
greater balance. If human beings were removed, would nature have
trouble finding balance? No.


Therefore, human beings hold the balance of nature in their hands.
The rightness of our actions depends on our ability to discriminate.
This conscious act is apparently unique to human beings. Health is a
reflection of how well we discriminate. Our actions have great
impact on our own natural balance and on the world of nature. Health
is our ability to love all of life and to act accordingly. When we
look at what is happening in the world, we realize how far most of
the human race has devolved from unconditional love.


People have never been in greater want of the benefits derived from
natural healing practices. Naturopathic systems — such as
hydrotherapy, massage therapy, hygiene, corrective exercise,
herbalism, dietetics, sun and air baths, and the like —
were valued by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, as well as
cultures closer to home, the ancient civilizations of the Americas.


Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, a naturopath, and the
most celebrated physician of antiquity, said, “Nature is the healer
of all disease” and “Let foods be your medicine and your medicine
your foods.” Hippocrates achieved much success working in
cooperation with nature’s healing processes. However, he did not
hesitate to call attention to those situations in which he succeeded
only partly or failed entirely, concluding that “the physician is
only the servant of Nature.”


The history of Nature Cure in the Americas began with the native
peoples, who were practicing it long before the advent of
Naturopathy in Europe. Ancient Mayans and Incas had raised natural
healing to a science and an art when Europe was still inhabited by
cave dwellers. The European settlers might not have endured, were it
not for the knowledge of Nature Cure shared by the Native Americans.
This rich healing culture was lost during the European invasions of
the Americas, and not until the beginning of the twentieth century
was the European form of Nature Cure introduced in the United States.


Today, the practice of pure Nature Cure is nearly extinct in the
United States. No schools of pure Nature Cure training exist, nor
are there Nature Cure hospitals for the care and instruction of
those who suffer from illness.


Robert Wood, D.C., N.D., one of the last pure Nature Cure doctors who
practiced in this country, defined Nature Cure thus: Nature Cure
teaches that the primary cause of weakness and disease is the
disobedience of the Laws of Nature. Proper nutrition will answer a
good many health questions, along with a natural regulation
of breathing fresh air, cleanliness, dressing in comfortable clothes,
resting, and mental composure. Medicines should be in conformity
with the constructive principles in nature and not injurious or
destructive to the human organism. The methods of treatment
are supplying the blood with its natural constituents in the right
proportions and promoting the elimination of waste materials and
poisons without in any way injuring the human body.


Nature Cure uses the forces of nature to heal. The medicines of the
Nature Cure physician or naturopath are the four elements of nature:
air, fire, water, and earth.


Henry Lindlhar, M.D., is considered the father of Natural
Therapeutics. He was one of a small group of gifted physicians who
introduced the European system of Nature Cure to the United States
(he was also Dr. Wood’s teacher). Dr. Lindlhar developed and
directed a school of Natural Therapeutics and a sanitarium in
Chicago, Illinois. He expanded the scope of Nature Cure theory and
practice, evolving Nature Cure into Natural Therapeutics. His work
is the foundation for the present-day practice of naturopathy.


What is the difference between Nature Cure and Natural Therapeutics?
Dr. Lindlhar added noninjurious herbal preparations and certain
homeopathic remedies based on the principles of Dr. Samuel
Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, to create what became known as
Natural Therapeutics. He also integrated the advances being made in
massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, dietetics, and exercise. He
included iridology and other forms of natural diagnosis.


Most importantly, Dr. Lindlhar developed a philosophical system,
mapping the laws and methodology of how nature heals.
According to Dr. Lindlhar’s philosophy, nature heals through what is
known as the healing crisis. If you imagine a ladder with four steps
and designate the top step as the acute or inflammatory stage of
symptomatic illness, the second lower step would represent a
progression to the sub-acute stage and the third lower step, a
further development to the chronic stage. The bottom and last step
would be the degenerative stage of illness, usually incurable.


When healing takes place on the first step, during the acute healing
opportunity, it occurs with intensity and for a brief time. The
energy (or vitality, or life force) of the individual increases
until it can bring about restorative natural cleansing and
rejuvenation. The mental, emotional, and physical bodies are also
able to heal during this acute stage. When treatment inhibits this
process, it is called suppression because it is contrary to the
movement of the life force toward healthy, balanced functioning of
the individual’s inner ecology.


Examples of acute symptoms are inflammation, pain, fever, skin
discharges, mucous discharges, cough, anger, sorrow, grief. These
symptoms are an expression of nature’s desire to bring the whole
organism closer to balance.


Symptoms are the language of nature, guiding us to take appropriate
cleansing and rejuvenating actions. Suppressing this movement toward
balance goes against nature’s wisdom. If we suppress the acute
healing crisis, we step down one rung of the ladder to the sub-acute


To bring about a return to balance, the life force must access more
energy at the sub-acute stage than at the acute stage. This means
that the language of nature (the symptoms) becomes more severe.
Symptoms at this stage are pneumonia, bronchitis, increased pain,
discharge via the skin, deeper mental and emotional patterns. If we
effectively suppress the subacute healing crisis, we eventually
descend to the third rung of the ladder, chronic illness.


Chronic means long and drawn out. Those suffering from chronic
illness live with their symptoms day in and day out. The return from
chronic illness to health requires even more time, energy, and
effort. Many chronically ill patients become so identified with
their illness that they cannot imagine a life free of this
condition. The medical profession typically labels chronic
conditions with names such as asthma, psoriasis, chronic fatigue,
cancer, diabetes and as clinical mental and emotional conditions
(such as anxiety or depression).


Periodically, chronic symptoms become acute. This is the voice
of nature trying to heal and the moment of opportunity that the
Nature Cure physician wants to support.


If we suppress the chronic, we eventually drop down to the last rung
of the ladder, the degenerative stage. At this level, the physical
body is breaking down. The life force is leaving the organism, and
the body is becoming unfit for habitation. The problem faced in the
degenerative state is whether there is enough vitality to sustain a
healing crisis. In this stage, the healing crisis can also be the
means for the life force to exit the physical body, during the
process known as death. This release from suffering is the final
healing from the degenerative stage.


It is possible for sub-acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions
to be healed, but such healing takes place only through the acute
healing crisis.


The necessity of the acute healing crisis appears to be a law of
nature. As with any law, when we break it, we pay the consequences.
Nature is our friend. She is not trying to punish us when we
experience acute symptoms. She is attempting to direct our mental,
emotional, and physical life toward a state of balance. The acute
healing crisis is always constructive, never destructive. It is each
human being’s right and privilege to learn how nature accomplishes


According to Hippocrates, “Nature is the healer of all disease.” The
German physician and naturalist Paracelsus stated that “Nature is
the teacher of Science.” When did this phenomenon change? What
discovery or theory precipitated the radical move away from nature
as a benevolent teacher?


Antoine Bechamp (1816 to 1908) was a contemporary of Louis Pasteur.
Bechamp observed that cells and germs are not the smallest
individual living organisms (as taught by Pasteur and his
followers). Instead, these are, in turn, made up of infinitely more
minute living beings, which he named microzyma, or “minute ferment


The physical characteristics and vital activities of cells and germs
depend on the soil in which their microzyma feed, grow, and
multiply. Thus, microzyma growing in the soil of procreative germ
plasma develop into the normal, permanent, specialized cells of the
living vegetable, animal, and human organism. The same microzyma,
however, feeding on morbid materials and systemic poisons in these
living bodies, develop into bacteria and parasites.


The first and most basic principle of Nature Cure is that all forms
of disease stem from the same cause, namely, the accumulation of
waste materials and bodily refuse in the system. Nature Cure
physicians call this morbidity.


Waste materials in a healthy individual are removed from the system
through the organs of elimination. However, in the diseased person,
they steadily accumulate in the body during years of faulty living:
incorrect diet, improper care of the body, and habits contributing
to enervation and nervous exhaustion (such as worry, overwork, and
excesses). The only true way to cure disease is to enable the system
to throw off toxic accumulation so that it can return to its natural
functioning. All natural treatments are directed toward this end.


How does nature handle morbidity, or the accumulative results of
living outside the laws of nature? When morbidity reaches an
intolerable level, nature seeks to restore balance by creating the
healing crisis in the diseased person.


Nature Cure masters recognize that food quality depends on the soil
in which it is grown. This is also true within the human body, where
the “soil” is the blood and lymph. If the blood and lymph are clean,
the vitality, or life force, circulates freely. It is important to
remember that, via the nervous system, the morbidity of thoughts and
feelings also translate into morbidity of blood and lymph.


When our blood and lymph become thick with viscous, sticky material,
we are prevented from experiencing vitality and, instead, experience
disease. As the morbid blood and lymph circulate through the spleen
and the lymph nodules, they are condensed into leucocytes. These
condensed particles of morbidity accumulate in weaker areas of the
body, obstructing normal function and offering a better soil for the
digestive activities of the microzyma.


Inflammation begins with obstruction in the capillary circulation,
created by the leucocytes and other morbid matter. Stagnation causes
them to break down and putrefy. The morbid soil develops the
microzyma of the normal cells into various kinds of disease germs,
or bacteria. The leucocytes disintegrate into pus. All life forms
experience this as a healing opportunity during the acute phase.


Why must elimination take the form of inflammation? The organs of
elimination can handle waste materials of only comparatively simple
chemical composition. The skin eliminates gases, water, and salts.
The kidneys eliminate urea, indican, and a few other end products.
The intestines eliminate little else but undigested food wastes.


Because morbidity is composed of chemically highly complex
substances, it cannot be released through the normal organs of
elimination. Morbid substances must first be broken down into simple
compounds chemically adapted for elimination through these organs.


This decomposition is accomplished by inflammation and germ
activity. Therefore, the acute healing crisis is the result of
nature’s effort to purify and heal. This is the profound truth
underlying Nature Cure.


Now we return to the fork in the road of medical history. Antoine
Bechamp’s profound revelations were superseded by the theories of
Louis Pasteur and Metchnikoff, which fully justify the suppressive
and often poisonous treatment prescribed by the allopathic school of
medicine. Pasteur compared the human body to a barrel of beer,
pronouncing it to be, like that beverage, at the mercy of extraneous
organisms. Just as these produce good or bad beer (a healthy brew or
diseased liquid), “bad” microorganisms create disease upon entering
the physical body.


Professor Metchnikoff’s theory of phagocytosis and Sir Almroth Wright
and Dr. Bulloch’s discovery of obsonins (natural antitoxins) in the
blood, furnished the medical profession with a simple theory as to
the origin of disease.


Modern medical science and treatment is built on the germ theory as
the cause of disease. Because the microscope has revealed the
presence of certain microorganisms in connection with certain
diseases, medical science has assumed that bacteria are the direct
and primary cause of these diseases.


Medicine bases its prophylaxis and treatment on the theory that human
beings are at the mercy of invaders. Health and disease, life and
death, all are perceived as accidents over which we have little
control. Kill the bacteria, and the disease is cured. The language
of allopathic medicine is the language of war.


Because the primary cause of germ activity is the morbid soil in
which bacteria breed and multiply, killing germs with poisonous
drugs, vaccines, serums, and antitoxins is unnecessary and even
harmful. Through natural ways of living and natural methods of
treatment, we can eliminate the morbidity that enables the
development and multiplication of disease germs.


Unfortunately, society has distanced itself from these natural
truths. Pasteur’s erroneous theory of disease has permeated the
consciousness of the modern world. Medical science no longer
questions the foundation on which it rests.


As a result, the true activities of nature in relation to our health
go unrecognized by most. The occurrence of chronic degenerative
diseases is widespread and increasing. The cost of health care is
prohibitive, and millions cannot afford health insurance. Modern
medicine is failing to keep us healthy and to help us heal.


Consider the words of Gandhi:
The Nature Cure doctor does not “sell a cure” to the patient.
The patient is taught the right way of living in his or her own
home, which not only cures of some particular ailment but also
teaches the method of prevention of illness in the future. The
ordinary doctor is interested mostly in the study of disease.
The Nature Cure physician is interested in the study of health
not disease. His or her real interest begins where that of the
ordinary doctor ends; the eradication of the patient’s ailment
under Nature Cure marks only the beginning of a way of life
in which there is no room for illness or disease. Nature Cure
is thus a way of life, not a course of “treatment”. We do not
claim that Nature Cure can cure all disease. No system of
medicine can do that or else we should all be immortals.
Nature Cure means a change for the better in one’s outlook
on life itself. It means regulation of one’s life in accordance
with the laws of health.


Collective suffering is forcing us to seek help from the ancient
source of healing, nature. When both physicians and clients
understand that the power to cure disease lies within the patient’s
own body, they choose to work with this power and support, not
suppress, the return to normal healthy function according to
nature’s own plan. Nature, not the physician, is the healer.


Consider these comments by the great medical visionary Dr. Hahnemann:
There are no diseases, only sick people.
Nature will provide an infinite number of remedies
to meet all occasions that might arise.
In conclusion, the central idea behind Nature Cure, Natural
Therapeutics, and naturopathy is expressed in this simple statement:
Only God and Nature heal.