Natural hygiene is a movement that emphasizes the importance of natural living with the belief that this kind of living optimizes health. Natural hygienists believe that, in caring for themselves, people should follow the laws of nature, just as all other organisms must. They believe the body is able to heal itself if provided with the proper environment in which to do so.
The precursor of the natural hygiene movement was the hygiene movement, which began in the 1800s, when some physicians began to suspect that the drugs and some of the medical procedures being used at the time were actually harming patients more than helping them. These doctors began treating patients without using drugs and claimed the patients recovered better and faster without them. The movement declined after the Civil War, but regained popularity and momentum in the 1900s, when it became known as natural hygiene.
Herbert Shelton (1895-1985) was an early proponent of the natural hygiene movement and wrote more than 40 books on the subject. Shelton was a vegan who developed the idea of food combining. He essentially believed that certain foods were impossible for the body to digest properly when eaten together, so people should avoid eating them together.
The pros and cons of natural hygiene depend on a person's perspective. One pro of natural hygiene is that it follows basic principles of good health. Some of the tenets of natural hygiene include breathing pure air; getting plenty of sleep, rest, and exercise; eating a proper diet made up of mostly raw, organic foods; and fasting when one is sick so the body can heal. Natural hygienists believe that, when the body is sick or has a disease, it is in the process of healing itself and will continue to do so as long as long as one allows it to do so without interference.
One of the biggest controversies about natural hygiene is its view on drugs for medical treatment. Natural hygienists generally believe that drugs are poison and do people more harm than good. This ranges from over-the-counter cold medicines to cancer treatments. Proponents of natural hygiene generally avoid immunizations, believing that vaccines ultimately make the body weaker and less able to heal itself. Many doctors would disagree and even posit that as a dangerous position, arguing that immunizations are necessary to protect people from disease, and that medications and medical procedures are valuable and effective ways to treat patients.
Natural hygiene is a lifestyle that focuses on the whole body. The premise is that, if people allow the laws of nature to work in the body, the body can maintain optimum health. While many people adopt portions of the lifestyle, a true natural hygienist adheres strictly to all of the guidelines of the movement.