Naturopathy is a medical system that tries to offer health without medicine. It is part of the 400 to 500 systems of Alternative Medicine that are current today. The name comes from the emphasis of this system that people should try to live as close to nature and as naturally (without the use of synthetic drugs and foods) as possible. The term naturopathy was coined in 1895 by John Scheel and was popularized by Benedict Lust who is considered the founder of naturopathy in the US. This name was then picked up by developers of this system in Europe and India.
Naturopathy was developed independently in several countries, the most notable ones being Germany and India. From Germany it went to the US, and then became popular worldwide in the twentieth century. In India it was empirically tested by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, and popularized as a system suitable for the poor masses. Since this approach to health and wellness is suitable for people from all walks of life, today naturopathy is not restricted to the poor alone.
Naturopathy operates on the philosophy that nature is the best healer, and that the closer a person lives with nature, the more fit and healthy he will be. This approach is called “holism”, the word being derived from “wholism” where the emphasis is on the whole rather than on parts of life. This also means that it is primarily a way of living that promotes health and healing, rather than merely a system of healing alone. At the same time, based upon what constitutes a healthy living, they have developed insights into how this system can be used for healing. It is this aspect of naturopathy that one sees in the form of naturopathic clinics and hospitals.
Because of the independent origin of naturopathy in multiple places, there is some variation worldwide in the methods used in treatment, but the common elements are fasting, selection of food, mud bath, spinal bath, and steam bath. Some of them combine some form of exercises with these.
Fasting is encouraged because they have found it to regulate metabolism. Steam bath has been demonstrated to promote general well being due to warming of the body that increases blood circulation. It also helps elimination of body wastes through increased sweating. In Spinal bath the patient is made to lie down in a tub with his back submerged in water. This has been shown to stimulate blood circulation and other healthful activities in the body. Regulation of food includes placing the patient on liquid food alone, or giving them only fruits for a time. Exercise is the universal rejuvenator of the body and mind.
Mud-bath plays an important role in naturopathy. Different kinds of mud, depending upon the disease, are applied to the whole body and allowed to remain there for as much as an hour or more.The body absorbs chemicals from the mud, while at the same time the mud works in multiple way on the skin.
No system of medicine can handle all the diseases. Thus naturopathy also cannot cure all the diseases. However, it offers unique benefits in several skin problems, mobility problems, and abdominal irregularities. It is also an excellent system of medicine for the rejuvenation of young and old.
People who undergo naturopathy therapy should adopt their lifestyle as much as possible according to the insights of this system as that will offer them great physical and mental well-being after their course of treatment is over.
Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a scientist (PhD in quantum-nuclear physics), and has worked extensively in the fields of free distance education and alternative medicines. His works in Christian Apologetics enjoy worldwide reputation.