(460 – 359 B.C.)
Father of Medicine
Propounder of VIS Medicatrix Naturae
“All diseases are in reality, self purifying efforts of Nature. Give me time and I can cure any disease. Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food, Nature cures.”
Presence of the marvellous intelligence that built the body from a tiny microscopic speck of protoplasm to its present state is obvious. So also it would be obvious when you consider how Nature heals. Take an example of healing of an injury with broken skin where blood exudates. Some of the blood coagulates and forms an airtight scab that serves as a protective covering. It stops the entry of any foreign matter and germs. Underneath this scab, wonderful things occur. Blood rushes to the injured part in large quantity. The tissues, nerves, muscle cells etc. on each side of the wound start multiplying rapidly and build a bridge of cells across the gap and the severed edges are reunited. Nothing haphazard happens. Blood vessels join with blood vessel, re- establishing circulation, connective tissues reunite; muscle and the nerves reconnect. Only after the wound is completely healed and the new skin is formed, does the scab loosen itself and falls off when it is no longer needed, mission accomplished!
What more evidence is necessary as to the nature and intelligence of the in-built mechanism, which is self propelled, self-sustaining and self-curative? Firm like the law of gravity, our body has a firm tendency to repair and bring things back to normal.
However, by our faulty living habits and continued abuse of the functioning organs we build too much load on the natural faculty of regeneration, its attention and ability gets divided and the efficacy reduces. It is a fallacy to think that medicines and drugs cure diseases. Nothing will really cure diseases until the continuing cause is removed and natural faculty fortified. Suppressing symptoms by drugs only gives a false idea that cure has taken place. But symptoms repeat. Continued repetitions make the disease inveterate and chronic. Hence absolute importance and the priority of avoiding the cause of disease rest mostly on faulty living. Both patients and some doctors seem to believe that combative medicine that suppresses symptoms may give a chance for the nature to heal but without removing the cause first, real cure is not possible. It only helps the disease to become stubborn and chronic. On the other hand, if cause is removed and natural forces are assisted and fortified by adoption of constitutional remedies, cure can be speeded up.
Medical scientists and researchers are fully aware and have a great respect for the Natural faculty that builds and repairs. They are trying to know more about it, and its real nature since the time of Hippocrates who termed and propounded the faculty as Vis Medicatrix Naturae. Its other names are Prana, Vital Power, and Elan Vita etc.
(1799 - 1851)
Founder: At 4 October 1799 Vincentius Priesznitz, the founder of the modern hydrotherapy (healing by means of water) was born. Priesznitz was a Silesian farmer, who, in spite of his lack of theoretical knowledge, would turn out to be one of mankind’s biggest benefactors. He was responsible for the widespread introduction of hydrotherapy. Because he achieved a great number of successes he was followed by many students, so, it is safe to say that water healing almost starts to surpass traditional medicine.
Circumstances: The circumstances of his time came to the aid of Priesznitz. For a long time already, thinkers among physicians longed for more rational remedies. For them, the progress of natural science formed an answer, to the, to them, insignificant old medicine. This is how the road was paved for naturopathy, electrotherapy, diet, massage and most of all hydrotherapy.Aversion: The traditional physicians were not at all positive towards these reforms. This caused the spreading of it to be left to laymen. Even now, while most physicians have no aversion to it anymore and it has become a generally accepted means of treatment, it still is not incorporated in the medical curriculum as a compulsory subject. Though, looking at the many water sanatoria that keep coming into existence, such an incorporation seems to be very much desired. This is all besides the fact that, as dr. Emmel states in his work “Hydrotherapy”, “the modern, more mechanical opinion of the physiological processes in the human body connects better to physical therapy than the medical opinion”. Coincidence: So, when Priesznitz started his work, the conditions were mostly in favour of him. Although, these are not the only components to develop a new kind of therapy. He also seemed to possess all the right qualities: a naturally developed subtle sense of feeling, a keen perception and a right sense of observation. Like most great discoverers and inventors he coincidentally hit upon his ideas. Origin: At the foot of the Goldkoppe and the Gräfenberg, two summits of the Sudetes, the eastern Austrian Silesian town of Freiwaldau is situated. Priesznitz himself descended from an old family, who’s many descendants still reside there. The name Priesznitz already shows up in the oldest records of this area and also lives on in the sages of this country
When Vincentius was 8 years old, his father turned blind. Because he was kept busy working on the estates, he couldn’t visit the public school regularly. Around age 12 he had to graze the cattle in the Gräfenberg meadows. One day, he lay down in the wood near a stream, the same stream that was called “Priesznitz stream” and he heard gunshots coming from a hunting party. Soon after, he saw a deer limping towards the stream, licking out it’s wounds and bathing itself in the water. After bathing for a long time, the deer left, only to return after a little while to bath again. This was repeated over many days, though less frequently until the animal, recuperated for sure, did not return.
This coincidental encounter was his first experience with the healing power of cold water. After this, he observed that his pets, whenever they got hurt or ill, healed quickly because of the cold water. These experiences drove him to try healing his own injuries by using water and the results were baffling. This convinced him to recommend others to try healing wounds by means of water. Not long after this, a new incidence forced him into this direction. At 17, he had an accident. A loaded truck tumbled over onto him and crushed his ribs. The Freiwalder physician told him this was incurable and predicted him life long pains. Vincentius started administering cold water wraps, that soon relieved him. He was able to place himself in a chair and put his ribs back in the right position by holding his breath. After this, he applied the water treatment with such zealousness, that he could walk around in a couple of days again, without ever suffering of wound-fever. He stated: “Slowly, I established an extermination of evil, so that after a while I did not feel the least bit of pain, I could easily do all kinds of physical movements without any harmful results.”
The first start of the watercure 1816 - 1817 by by Priesznitz
The lunatic: Since then the faith of the young farmer’s son in the healing power of the cold water became unassailable. He recommended and applied it increasingly more as a treatment for external injuries. Because his treatments mostly turned out very well, he soon became well known, not only in his birth place, but also in other areas. At 19, he was already called in to cure the ill of Moravia and Bohemia. As long as he was still treating the poor, the locals called him a wonder man and benefactor. But, when well-to-do foreigners came to visit him, everybody who inquired about his home, received the same answer: “You want to see the water doctor? Don’t go to him, he is a lunatic.” But as soon as the “lunatic” started sending them his rich sanatorium guests as tenants and they started to make some money off of them, they changed their minds.
Spa: A talent for nature, practice and experience, made Priesznitz think of and apply a number of individual uses for cold and lukewarm water. By observation and consideration he developed the sit, half, head, foot and eye baths, the waterings, the wrappings, the walking barefoot on wet grass etc. The disobedience of many patients also gave him some ideas for improvement. Priesznitz’s success made Gräfenberg a favourite spa within a short period of time. Already in 1829 a spa guest-list, written by hand of course, could be presented.
Literature: In the years thirty and forty, a lot of literature was written about the new hydrotherapy, praising the creator. Besides some overdoing, they mention many interesting facts. Professor Oertel, a very enthusiastic hydropath resided in Ansbach, writes in his magazine “The latest hydrotherapy” (part IV) about a diary, written by the Royal Lichnowskyschen Resident Johann Knur from Ratibor: Knur, searching in vain for a medical cure for his gout and haemorrhoids for the last 10 years, went to Gräfenberg in October 1828 and already on the fifth day felt “very well, very comfortable, cheerful”. After two weeks he went home and continued his cure for another month. “I feel that the blood circulation has become better and the gout aches have disappeared. The swelling of the glands in my son’s throat have left completely, thanks to bathing and sweating.” Three years later he writes: “Since this cure I’m not only freed of gout seizures and pain in the small of the back – I feel younger, cheerful and strong … and my wife has been relieved within weeks of a thirty year long, every medical treatment defying disease, by washing with cold water and the sweating that it causes… People are like that! They want only the most artificial cures, while doubting the natural resources giving to human kind.” A different time he remarks, prophetically: “I foresee that this healing method will create a lot of sensation in the world.”
Praise: During his stay at Gräfenberg, Knur visited Priesznitz, to show him the obtained testimonies, where I…could see the praise of his healing method and his friendliness towards his fellow human beings. From Vienna a knight came to see him, who had been searching in vain for over 20 years for help and was cured by him within a short amount of time. The duke Anton had send for him in Vienna to meet this man, who served such a noble cause. Every letter I read was filled with gratitude and expressions that the complaint did not return…. Priesznitz’ method, which summons nature to come to aid and to unite with it, is surely the best way to feel healthy… Also because water is so simple, without costs and can be used by anyone anywhere, it is recommendable for everyone”.Heinrich Laube wrote in “A season in Gräfenberg” (1836): “The readers shouldn’t forget the main cause – Gräfenberg water is innocent, every day water, without any addition, just water, like you can find it anywhere, cheap and without contamination”.
Wonder cure: A different famous writer, who trusted him self into the care of the “water doctor” when he was younger, is Hieronymus Lorm. In 1848 he published the now forgotten, yet catchy book: “Gräfenberger Aquarel”. Priesznitz conscientiously turns away “the ill, for whom he believes he cannot offer a successful cure”. By this, he refutes the widespread opinion of grateful cured patients that water is a wonder cure for all ailments. Not even intercession of the most influential persons, nor his own pity, that he felt for all patients, nor the largest sums of money could dissuade him from his principals.
Slander: Even the slanderers couldn’t achieve this. There were so many untruths told about him and his healing method! Especially false was the slander that he could only cure acute diseases, not chronic illnesses, he just cured pro forma, he had issued the – cold – water as a panacea and he stimulated everybody to drink an unnecessary amount of water. Besides the fact, that he also put a lot of emphasis on diet and besides the quotations of Knur and others, these accusations can be refuted by some peculiar lines from a written source dated 17 December 1878:
“I arrived in Gräfenberg, at the starting of July 1846, affected by stomach aches, that were treated without any results by medical celebrities from Brünn to Vienna. Already at the first consultation Priesznitz said to me: Water alone will not cure you, you also need air; yes, if I didn’t have the water already, I would cure with air alone!”
Self-taught man: It cannot be denied that Priesznitz found his priceless allies in the area, the climate and the rich waters of Gräfenberg. However, according to dr. E. Kapper, as he writes in “The spa Gräfenberg – Freiwaldau”, the main reason for his success is that he was “a self-taught man and started his treatment at the right time and at the right place”. Whoever teaches himself, is more inclined to see things differently than a properly schooled person. He admires and researches everything new to him, he loses himself in it and because of this, is much more interested than the “academic” type. This is how Priesznitz managed to do groundbreaking work, in spite of his lack of medical and anatomical knowledge and bring about numerous successful cures.
Envy: The more fame he acquired, the more he had to deal with envy. Especially hard on him were physicians and clergy men. Yet he was comforted from all this hostility by the gratitude of the cured, and the marry wedlock with his cousin Sophie.
Vincentius Priesznitz and his wifeKurhaus: Dr. G. Selinger, deceased manager of the academy of the East in Vienna, wrote in “V. Priesznitz, a description of his life”: “Because in the meanwhile the most positive tidings had arrived about Priesznitz’s character and treatment, he was allowed to open his own spa in 1831.” Here he is talking about the opening of the big “Kurhaus” a few years later. Slander from local physicians caused the government to send a high-placed commissioner to investigate. His report turned out to be very positive for Priesznitz and it silenced his accusers. Formerly vehement opponents had their illnesses cured by this “quack” and changed into zealous apostles of natural science. The spread of the lather was mostly thanks to them.
Patriarchal: As long as Priesznitz was alive, the routine at Gräfenberg was very patriarchal. The descriptions of the life there by Laube and Lorm are very much worthwhile reading. All the spa guests – mostly Hungarians, Prussians, Polish, French and English, ate together under the watchful eye of Priesznitz, who often fell asleep at the table due to sheer exhaustion. The diet was strict and smoking was not allowed. The importance of taking walks was strongly emphasised.
Lotus: Lorm tells about a joke going around at that time, which states that the guests of the spa resembled the lotus worshippers, who worship the holy river Ganges in India, where the lotus flower grows. No wonder that the Gräfenberger guests, left by the traditional physicians, were absolutely in awe of their rescuer. During his lifetime they placed a lot of stone and ore memorials, shaped as statues and mouths of wells.
His death: He deceased on 28 October 1851 at the age of 52. Many were puzzled by the fact that he, who was such a great teacher of the healthy way of life, such an admirer of air, water, simplicity and moderation, died at such an early age. The explanation however is easy. Firstly, he was clearly exhausted from working and never had a chance to catch up on his sleep. Secondly, his rib fracture should not be forgotten. During the autopsy of his body, which he had ordered himself, doctors were very surprised to find his liver, kidneys and lungs seriously affected. Because of this condition, doctors declared he should have died long before. By complying to his own strict rules for living and hygiene he was saved from an even earlier death.
(1840 - 1929)
Kuhne Cure, or Kuhne’s treatment of diseases, so called from its discoverer, Louis Kuhne of Leipzic who puts forward the doctrine of the identity of all diseases and has for its purpose their uniform treatment. Kuhne’s theory teaches that there exists but one single disease, expressed in the most various forms. The peculiar characteristic of this one disease is the collection of foreign substances or morbid matter in the body which they are unfit to build up and preserve. When the elimination of these foreign substances by the excretory organs – the intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs – does not take place at the proper time, and their removal from the body can no longer be effected without an effort then “disease” ensues. These foreign substances, as Kuhne prefers to call them, are due partly to the consumption of a greater quantity of food than man requires to build up the wasted and used up tissues of his body, and partly to the reception into the body of unsuitable nourishment, which does not answer to the physiological requirements of man such as meat, spice, alcoholic or narcotic beverages as wine, beer, brandy, coffee, tea, etc. which on the one hand possess hardly any nutritive value, and on the other cause a condition of irritation in the body, which is necessarily followed by relaxion. The natural consequence of this is that the organs become prematurely weak and enfeebled, and incapable of performing their appointed task.
Moreover medical poisons, used as remedies, tobacco, either in the form of snuff, or for chewing and smoking as well as vaccine-poison (calf-lympf) which being incorporated in the system are either not excreted at all or only in a small measure and thus remain in the body as morbid matter. Other substances to enter the system, such as impure, vitiated air, exhalations from sewers and stables, so called disinfectants, other people’s exhalations, dust etc. likewise accumulating there as foreign substances. Finally the dross of the human mechanism to make use of a metaphor the used up, worn out parts of organs remains behind in the body in consequence of a faulty mode of life instead of being conducted into the veins to be by them carried into the excretory organs and removed altogether.
The system obeying nature’s laws, which govern life in all its relations, endeavours to get rid of these useless , injurious, clogging foreign substances, morbid matter, producer of disease or remnants of matter. As a consequence, the foreign substances crowd towards the natural means of exit and are chiefly deposited in the abdomen owing to their inability, by reason of their quantity, to pass all simultaneously. From this point (the abdomen) they gradually advance to the extremities or are deposited, in obedience to the physical law of gravity, on the right or left side of the body, or front or in the back, according to the position most usually assumed or indulged in by the individual.
This depositing process going on in the system, is noticed little if at all, or it causes shivering twinges in the limbs, an inexpressible restlessness, general indisposition, characteristics which are apt to precede inflammatory or febrile diseases. The febrile matters which have been deposited are putrefying or fermenting substances. There is no doubt that fermentation is a kind of putrefaction, consequent on the disintegration and corruption of some organic substance. If now some powerful material influence whether external or internal arise e.g. chill, over-heating, emotion and so on, the deposited morbid matter becomes active and ferments, and like all products of fermentation, seeks an exit from the space to which it is confined and move upwards and in the direction of the outer skin according to its position and following the lymph-passages of the body. If now they meet with resistance or an obstacle on their way, they either distend the space, within which they have become active, by causing an external (swelling goitre etc.) or internal (polyp, emphysema, induration etc.) new growth, or else these producers of disease sink into the lower extremeties, that is into the legs and feet. They have, however, a constant tendency to get away as far as possible from the place where they were first deposited, and to penetrate into the most distant parts, into the head, neck, hands, feet, fingers and toes. Here they go no farther. The exit through the skin is mostly closed to them, since want of attention to its action or a perverse mode of life had made it entirely inactive and weak; or, if there is any normal function left in it, it cannot respond to the sudden and excessive pressure of the foreign substances, and expel them at once and in a satisfactory manner.
The secretary function of the skin being lessened or entirely suppressed, intestines, kidneys and lungs no longer acting properly, the morbid matter arrested in its progress now causes pathological changes in the tissues of the system to take place; which by degrees entirely alter the normal shape of the body. The tissues grow harder, muscles, which before were soft to the touch acquire tension, which becomes very evident, particularly in movements of the body, both to the sight and touch. In other cases again, the presence of morbid matter produces expansion, and consequently increase in size. Any one can easily and daily convince himself of the accuracy of this fact, by looking at corpulent people whose body is distended by foreign substances, or by examining lean people, who display a greater or lesser tension of the tissues.
Since the foreign substances, as stated above, have a tendency to find their way to the extremities, the neck forms a narrow pass as it were between head and body and it is particularly at this place, that the deposited morbid matter is most palpable and perceptible. In this place as well as on the head, says Kuhne, the changes which have taken place e.g. knots, tension will always point with absolute certainty to an accompanying effect in the body. That is to say, the course of past and future morbid matters during their passage in the system can be distinctly traced. This fact is said to be attested by thousands of experiments and based upon what Kuhne calls the infallible method of diagnosing which admits of no possibility of deception or simulation and enables the physician to determine not only previous disturbances in the system but – mirabile dictu – to perceive even the predisposition to future diseases. He calls this: “The science of facial expression.”
At the neck and the head can be distinctly seen what are the different degrees of taint in different persons and whether the morbid matter has taken its upward course in front or behind, on the left or on the right side. Moreover the complexion, the condition of the skin, whether it is hot or cold, moist or dry, the lustre of the eye, the appearance of the hair and various other signs come under observation.
Also the figure and the build of the parents together with their taint is transmitted to the children. Therefore, says Kuhne, long before a person himself becomes aware of its presence, an outbreak of disease in this or that organ at some future time can be predicted with certainty. The treatment consists of trunk baths, hip-baths with rubbing or board bath as well as a certain kind of vapour bath. The hip-baths with rubbing, as well as the inventor, Louis Kuhne, have, however, of late been the subject of attack, and these hip-baths are now only applied in isolated cases.
The diet prescribed in connection with Kuhne’s treatment is strictly vegetarian. The adherents of Kuhne apply his treatment in all cases of illness.
When we know now, that foreign substances can only invade the body through over-nourishment, that means through bad digestion, how can we prevent over-nourishment or bad digestion? I want to briefly mention a few clarifying examples from daily life. Let’s say we see a very fat and big person walking around, who, despite the fact that he complains about growing fatter all the time, claims that he cannot eat or drink much. This man suffers from overeating. Someone else is showing quite the opposite. Another person might be meagre, skimpy and skinny, although consuming the food and drinks he thinks have the highest nutritional value in big quantities.
Judging according to the quantity of his daily food intake, he should find himself in a completely different nutritional state. The food is passing through his body, which is not able to take out the useful substances adequately. In that way a large part of the food passes through his body unused, or at least insufficiently used. We can see, how just the passing of food and drink through the body doesn’t indicate a normal digestion, like this is assumed, unfortunately by many, and also by many doctors. The two above mentioned people show us two opposites. The first one shows, how one can get fatter by eating and drinking little, the last one how one can get skinny by eating and drinking a lot. Despite this seaming contradiction the cause of the illness is the same in both cases: bad digestion or over-nourishment.
Not cheese, eggs, wine, beer, extracts, cocoa, coffee, tea etc. are the most nutritious and adequate foods for our body, but only those foods that are the most easy and quickly to digest. The faster our body can transform the food that we take in, the more it will be able to use it and the more life force it will create. The quantity of life force that is being generated is only dependent on the ease with which our food can be digested. The more difficult it is for some food to be digested, the longer is the job for the body to digest it. A person that uses food that is hard to digest, has to wait in all cases, when he doesn’t want to injure his body, with taking in more food until the previous food has been digested enough. Nowadays that hardly ever is the case because our way of life prohibits such a period of fasting. Usually the true meaning of fasting has become somewhat foreign to us. In nature though, we see a certain period of fasting everywhere. We observe how snakes for instance fast for weeks, after they have taken a rich meal. Furthermore we see how nature obliges free roaming animals to a special time of fasting during winter. We notice how for instance deer and hare and others eat very little for weeks or months and still are able to endure the stress of a rough and cold winter. If these animals would be able to take in as much food in winter as in summer, then no doubt they would get sick and wouldn’t be able to cope with the cold of winter, because the low temperature prevents any kind of fermentation process, so also that of digestion. This is why the quantity of food that is easy to digest in the warmth of summer, is much less easy to digest in the freezing cold of winter.
Human beings usually do not pay attention to the period of fasting that nature dictates. To the contrary, we watch him eat more and more richly in winter, because he has more time than in summer and we even find the delusion widely spread of having to eat a lot in winter, to be able to handle the cold better. This really is an insight that goes against all laws of nature. Most of them comfort themselves in saying it’s normal to grow a little ‘winter fat’. They do not realize, that because of that, in many cases, when the weather changes in spring, a seed for many possible diseases has been laid.
We arrive now to the question how one can prevent from over-nourishment. When we know, that illnesses only are caused by overeating or over-nourishment, then we have to conclude that we cannot be indifferent to what we eat, in which form we use the food and where we eat it. I have already said before, that the food that is most easy to digest also serves the body best. Overeating or bad digestion doesn’t happen easily with the most easily to digest food. First of all we have to assess which food is the most easily to digest for us and gives us also on the other hand because of that the most life energy.
To answer this broad and much disputed question is as simple as all solutions in nature. She lets herself briefly be expressed in the following statements: All the food that invites us to be eaten in their unaltered natural condition is also the food that is most easy to digest and provides us with the most life energy. One should think about fruits and vegetables. All food that we transform out of it’s natural state by cooking, looses it’s capacity to be easily digested en doesn’t supply us with the life energy which we receive from food that hasn’t been manipulated.
The more one transforms food by cooking, herbs and preparation, the harder it will be to digest in their new form. All food that in their natural form brings about aversion and the opposite of appetite is always bad for our health, although it might be very tasty in a prepared or cooked state. Especially meat is one of them.
(1879 - 1965)
Known as Father of Nature Cure in India
"He that eats for the pleasure of eating sooner or later loses his health and becomes a
victim of deep - rooted diseases and dies prematurely, meanwhile enriching the industries."
K.L. Sarma came from a highly reputed family. He successfully developed this science further with hundreds of theories, put back Naturopathy in full throttle and gave a new dimension to Nature Cure. He spent fifty-two years of dedicated and uninterrupted service in the curing the suffering humanity.
K.L. Sarma was the author of many books. He founded the Naturopathy Sanatorium (1916) and the Indian Institute of Natural Therapeutics (1941). The golden Era in the history of our movement has ended. A towering personality, an intellectual and spiritual giant has disappeared from the scene, causing a void, which cannot be adequately be filled by one man. He was our foremost Nature Curist and a philosopher, a “Maha Yogi” if you will. Many editions since 1920 in English and in numbers of editions in French and German is said to be the best of Bhagavan Sri Raman’s philosophy so far written. He was also a Sanskrit philosopher and pundit.
His dream came true when his children studied Naturopathy and practiced it. He and his children preached Naturopathy throughout India for more than 70 years thus proving their worth to the world.