A Lifestyle Consultant's Course in Natural Living - Sample Lesson 55

Subject: Natural Hygiene Philosophy

By John L. Fielder

Introduction to Philosophy of Natural Hygiene

Author: Herbert M. Shelton


Hygiene is properly defined as that branch of biology which designates the conditions upon which health depends and the means by which it may be sustained in all its virtue and purity while we have it, and the means upon which its restoration rests when we have lost it. It is the scientific application of the principles of Nature in the preservation and restoration of health, to which we also append the term Natural to differentiate between it and that of medicine.

We may also define Hygiene as the science of normal vital development. It comprehends all the laws that determine the changes in living organisms and all the conditions, which conduce to or interfere with normal growth and sustenance. It traces these conditions to the unerring laws of Nature and there on establishes its science of life. It demonstrates the great primary principle of human action that all permanent good, all enduring happiness and all true advancement are found only in obedience to those laws.

Medicine is a Latin word which means healing. Medicine comes into existence only when there is sickness. Hygiene belongs to all phases of existence. Hygiene antedates medicine as right living antedates wrong living. Hygiene antedates medicine as living antedates treatment. Hygiene of some Nature began with life: it is not the offspring of medicine.

There can be no doubt that Hygienic care of the sick antedates that of the physician. Instinctively man, like animals, fasted when ill. He sought warmth when cold, and sought rest and quiet just as do animals when ill. He drank when thirsty and abstained from water when there was no desire for it. Animals instinctively live by keeping their nests and dens clean, bathing, eating wholesome foods, abstaining from unwholesome foods, resting and sleeping when tired, seeking the sun in the morning and late afternoon, and shade at mid-day, seeking warmth when cold, and coolness when hot, etc. In view of this care of themselves by animals both in health and in sickness — it is impossible to believe that primitive man was not led instinctively to do likewise. For long ages, before the first priest, shaman, medicine man, or voodoo practitioner presented himself as a healer of disease and protector of health. Hygiene antedates the witches' brews, charms, amulets, rites, ceremonials, incantations, exorcisms, and other theurgic and thaumaturgic procedures that priest physicians of ancient Egypt, Babylon and Greece employed. Hygiene is of, by, and for the people. It belongs to everyone and is not the exclusive property of the professionals.

The Hebrews, who had no physicians, had an admirable code of Hygienic and sanitary regulations well adapted, in most essentials, to their nomadic life. God had made the human body in His own image and had looked upon it and pronounced it good. They could see no impropriety in caring for it in such a way as to keep it good. Only the ascetics declared that the body should be condemned and abused.


Care of the body was considered by the Greeks and Romans of sufficient importance to have a special god (rather goddess) to rule over it. It is significant that the Greeks and Romans gave the care of medicine to another and different God. Health and medicine were too far apart to be ruled over by the same God.

Hygieia, the sweet-smelling goddess of health, was one of the fairest conceptions of an age, which combined, in an exceptional degree, poetry of thought with clearness of judgment. This was owning, perhaps, to the very fact that it appreciated more thoroughly than any other the absolute necessity of corporal sanity to the existence of mental sanity and was, therefore, not ashamed of the human form. Hygieia was not the goddess of medicine, but of health.

This age of poets, sages, and artists lavished all its wonderful powers of creative genius in giving expression to its ideal of that divinity whose special care should be the bestowment and maintenance of physical health. The embodiment must need be feminine, because the mother and the wife have for their special function the daily ministry to the bodily welfare and necessities of offspring, of a husband, that constant presence in and care of the home, which are the two essentials of health in the family and in the individual. She must be youthful, as presenting ever to the mind of the entranced beholder that period of life when blood, unvitiated by vice or excess, flows through a body unharmed by violence or exposure, and colours a cheek unstained by vice. Purity must look forth from her eyes and truth sit enthroned on her brow for inimical to the perfect preservation of health. Her form must be lithe, vigorous, and well nourished, but not redundant, as showing her adorers that neither asceticism on the one hand, nor gluttony and voluptuousness on the other, are permitted in her worship, encouraging activity as a contrast to indolence. Cheerfulness must radiate from every feature, since gloom and despondency are recognised foes of sanity, whether of the body or of the mind. Overall, pervading the expression of face and posed limb, must be the indescribable charm of gentleness, as teaching her votaries that in the mutual interchange of kind by sentiments and acts, they should promote the common health and common weal. And so, has the lovely inspiration come down to us, immortalised by the sculptor's art, a joyous maiden-full of tender grace, robed in chaste flowing vestments.

The Hygienic System

The Hygienic System may be said to be a revival of practices that man instinctively carried out in his early existence, but based upon well defined physiological and biological principles. Before physiology was investigated rules of hygiene were instinctive, traditional, and empirical. Today hygiene is based upon the sciences of physiology and biology. It is the conviction of the Hygienists that if we had a perfect knowledge of the laws of life and applied them in a perfect system of hygiene, disease would be impossible. Hygiene in this sense is the art of preserving health. In its broader sense it is the art of intelligent living.

Health is nothing more than life in a normal state because of normal conditions while disease is life in an abnormal state because of abnormal conditions. Here is a very simple, but entirely correct definition of disease; it is abnormal vital action.

What is necessary to the production of a living thing is also necessary to its preservation. The human body is developed under certain natural conditions and influences, and by the use of certain natural agents and materials, these same conditions and influences and materials are essential, and all that are essential to its maintenance in a state of health. What caused a human being to grow into manhood or womanhood in health and vigour is necessary to preserve that health and vigour, and all that is necessary.

A rational hygiene will study and understand exactly and precisely the nature and influences of air, water, food, light, exercise, rest, sleep, temperature, clothing, housing, noise, the emotions, etc, and apply the knowledge daily, hourly—constantly—acting ever and always in proper relation to the laws of life, to the preservation and restoration of health. What is needed is a complete system of hygiene, not exaggerated or given to but one hygienic factor. Not exercise alone, not diet alone, not sunshine alone, not emotional poise alone, not any one factor alone, but a well rounded correlated and integrated system which includes all the conditions and materials of healthy life. Health must be built and maintained as a unit and must rest upon the total mode of living.

In its widest sense, hygiene is the application of the principles of Nature to the preservation and restoration of health. Applied to the sick it consists in finding the causes of the patient's suffering and removing these, and in restoring to the patient the conditions of a healthy life. This is accomplished by teaching him how to prepare and eat a proper diet, secure abundance of fresh air, to use sunshine properly, how to exercise, rest, clothe himself properly, etc. It may be said to be a system of purification and rejuvenation. By the use of agents and conditions that are normal to the body, the system is cleansed, invigorated, and restored to healthy action. What horrid superstition, what blinding prejudice, what unparalleled stupidity is that, which cannot understand the simple doctrine of the restoration of health by purification.


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