Nature Cure: Chapter 1

Chapter I
What Is Nature Cure?

  It is vastly more than a system of curing aches and pains; it is a complete revolution in the art and science of living. It is the practical realization and application of all that is good in natural science, philosophy and religion. Like many another world-wide revolution and reformation, it had its inception in Germany, the land of thinkers and philosophers.
  About seventy years ago this greatest and most beneficent of reformation movements was inaugurated by Priessnitz in Grafenberg, a small village in the Silesian mountains. The originator of Nature Cure was a simple farmer, but he had a natural genius for the art of healing.
  His pharmacopeia consisted not in poisonous pills and potions but in plenty of exercise, fresh mountain air, water treatments in the cool, sparkling brooks, and simple, wholesome country fare, consisting largely of black bread, vegetables, and milk fresh from cows fed on nutritious mountain grasses.

  The results accomplished by these simple means were wonderful. Before he died, a large sanitarium, filled with patients from all over the world and from all stations of life, had grown up around his forest home.

  Among those who made the pilgrimage to Grafenberg to become patients and students of this genial healer, the simple-minded farmer-physician, were wealthy merchants, princes and doctors from all parts of the world.

  Rapidly the idea of drugless healing spread over Germany and over the civilized world. In the Fatherland, Hahn the apothecary, Kuhne the weaver, Rikli the manufacturer, Father Kneipp the priest, Lahmann the doctor, and Turnvater Jahn, the founder of physical culture, became enthusiastic pupils and followers of Priessnitz.

  Each one of these men enlarged and enriched some special field of the great realm of natural healing. Some elaborated the water cure and natural dietetics, others invented various systems of manipulative treatment, earth, air and light cures, magnetic healing, mental therapeutics, curative gymnastics, etc., etc. Von Peckzely added the Diagnosis from the Eye, which reveals not only the innermost secrets of the human organism, but also Nature's ways and means of cure, and the changes for better or for worse continually occurring in the body.

  In this country, Dr. Trall of New York, Dr. Jackson of Danville, Dr. Kellogg of Battle Creek, and others caught the infection and crossed the ocean to become students of Priessnitz. The achievements of these men in their respective fields of endeavor will stand as enduring monuments to the eternal truths revealed by the genius of Nature Cure.

  Quimby, the itinerant spiritualist and healer, became successful and renowned by the application of the natural methods of cure. At first his favorite methods were water, massage, magnetic and mental treatment. Gradually he concentrated his efforts on metaphysical methods of cure, and before he died, he evolved a complete system of magnetic and mental therapeutics.

  Quimby's teachings and methods were adopted by Mrs. Eddy, his most enthusiastic pupil, and by her elaborated into Christian Science, the latest and most successful of modern mental-healing cults.

  Dr. Still of Kirksville, Missouri, made a valuable addition to natural methods of treatment by the invention of Osteopathy, a system of scientific manipulation of the bony structures, nerves and nerve centers, muscles and ligaments. A later development of manipulative science is Chiropractic, originated by Dr. Palmer of Davenport, Iowa. Thus the simple pioneers of German Nature Cure, every one of them gifted by Nature with the instinct and genius of the true healer, who is born, not made, laid the foundation for the worldwide modern healthculture movement.

  They were not blinded or confused by the conflicting theories of books and authorities, or by the action of a thousand different drugs on a legion of different symptoms, but applied common-sense reasoning to the solution of the problems of health, disease and cure.

  They went for inspiration to field and forest rather than to the murky atmosphere of the dissecting and vivisection rooms. They studied the whole and not only the parts, causes as well as effects and symptoms. Realizing that man had lost his natural instinct and strayed far from Nature's ways, they studied and imitated the natural habits of the animal creation rather than the confusing doctrines of the schools.

  Thus they proclaimed the "return to Nature" and the "new gospel of health," which are destined to free humanity from the destructive influences of alcoholism, red meat overeating, the dope and tobacco habit, and of drug poisoning, vaccination, surgical mutilation, vivisection and a thousand other abuses practiced in the name of science.

  When parents learn how to create children in accord with natural law, how to mold their bodies and their characters into harmony and beauty before the new life sees the light of day, when they learn to rear their offspring in health of body and purity of mind in harmony with the laws of their being, then we shall have true types of beautiful manhood and womanhood, then children will no longer be a curse and a burden to themselves and to those who bring them into the world or to society at large.

  These thoughts are not the mere dreams of a visionary. When we see the wonderful changes wrought in a human being by a few months or years of rational living and treatment, it seems not impossible or improbable that these ideals may be realized within a few generations.
 Children thus born and reared in harmony with the law will be the future masters of the earth. They will need neither gold nor influence to win in the race of life—their innate powers of body and soul will make them victors over every circumstance. The offspring of alcoholism, drug poisoning and sexual perversity will cut but sorry figures in comparison with the manhood and womanhood of a true and noble aristocracy of health.


  1. You have given us a nice introduction, description, and discussion about Nature Cure and its origin. It was also interesting to read about so many related and derivative healing methods, both historical and present-day practices. In writing about the related healing methods, it’s no doubt challenging to ensure all the reference material is as factual as possible. Thus I’m responding here about misleading information regarding Phineas Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, and Christian Science.

    Over the years, various authors have written incorrectly that (to quote your article) “Quimby’s teachings and methods were adopted by Mrs. Eddy…and by her elaborated into Christian Science.” Mrs. Eddy visited Quimby a number of times during the early 1860s. He was clearly a respected figure of his day, and she wrote about “his rare humanity and sympathy.” On the other hand, she found his treatments provided relief, but did not cure her. After investigating his methods, she concluded he was a mesmerist, using a form of mental manipulation.

    This was for Mrs. Eddy just one of many stops along the road that led her to the form of spiritual healing that she called Christian Science. Even during her encounters with Quimby, her inclination was to regard God as the provider of Life, i.e., hers was a religious and spiritual approach, which Quimby’s was not. Both considered disease to have a mental basis, but when Mrs. Eddy realized how different they were, she moved on. To conclude that Christian Science is an elaboration of Quimby’s teachings and a derivative of Priessnitz’s methods or of Nature Cure is to stretch the facts.

    I note that you refer to Christian Science as a “cult”. As a life-long Christian Scientist, I believe that word does it a disservice. In her book Rudimental Divine Science, Mrs. Eddy defines Christian Science, “As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony.” This is the language of deeply spiritual religion. It may be viewed as using certain wording similar to that of the methods you describe so well, but it is purely spiritual and God-centered.

  2. Hi Graham,

    I am glad you are bringing these other points to the reader's attention. As mentioned in the introduction, Henry Lindlahr, M.D. is the author of this book and so the references mentioned in this article are 'his' choice of expression.

    My intension is to give exposure to varied points of view. So, I am glad that you took the time to provide another set of facts/views for our reader's consideration...

    Sandhya B.