How Western natural philosophies of healing developed in Europe. A History of Western Natural Healing Practices in Europe

A History of Western Natural Healing Practices
in Europe

Contents of a History of Western Natural Healing Practices in Europe

  1. The Primitive Period
  2. The Greek Period
  3. The Greco-Roman Period
  4. The Dark Ages
  5. The 1200s
  6. The 1300s
  7. The 1400s
  8. The 1500s--the Renaissance
  9. The 1600s--the Reformation
  10. The 1700s--the Enlightenment
  11. The Age of Heroic Medicine (1780 - 1850)
  12. 1st half of the 19th Century--Age of Romanticism
  13. 2nd half of the 19th Century--The Birth of Modern Medicine
  14. The 20th Century
  15. References

History of the Old World

Natural healing practices are a concept more global than natural remedies and may not always have been about science or natural health. This history is about how Western natural philosophies of healing developed over the ages.

How Western natural philosophies of healing developed in Europe.

The Primitive Period

The ancient era prior to Hippocratic Greece was a period dominated by superstitions where sickness was attributed mainly to supernatural forces. Illness was viewed as being influenced by the stars, as punishment for violating taboos, social rules, or as intentional inflections of witchcraft, demons, and malevolent supernatural forces.

This viewpoint still exists today in the form of faith and psychic healing, some other forms of alternative medicine, and a few Eastern philosophies. These belief systems say that disease is a result of something other than natural causes; such as spiritual, karmic, or ancestral forces and personal auras or energy flows around the human body. Thus, these forms of healing are not a part of natural healing practices.

Western history started in ancient Greece.

Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine treated the sick with the help of his daughters, Hygeia and Panacea. Hygeia symbolized healthy living and prevention while Panacea stood for treating disease.

Healers who believe in the healing power of nature, Vis Mediatix Naturae, worship Hygeia and the vital force. While physicians worship Panacea and reject the power of nature to heal and believe that only their Materia Medica art prolongs life.

The Greek Period

The early Greeks saw the world as composed of four elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. Health could be maintained in the eyes of the ancient Greeks by adopting a temperate lifestyle. Health, beauty and happiness were the most important goals in life for the ancient Greeks. These goals could only be achieved and maintained if the person was able to organize his own life in an appropriate manner using his own power according to his abilities.

  • 1000 BC>{Allopathy}A Greek physician named Asklepios was deified as a son of Apollo along with his children.
  • {Allopathy}Hippocrates (460 - 377 B.C.) is widely regarded as the founder of Western medicine. Hippocrates attributed the cause of all illness to natural forces. He and his followers named and classified many diseases. And, they categorized herbs by their fundamental qualities: hot, cold, dry, or damp.

Several modern natural healing practices developed over thousands of years: Materia Medica, Surgery, the Water Cure, and Hygienic Nursing. Materia medica eventually broke into several different branches: Herbalism, Pharmacology, and Allopathy. The Water Cure developed into Europe's Nature Cure and America's Natural Hygiene health reform movements. While, Hygienic Nursing eventually developed from midwifery and the need to assist helpless people.

And, throughout Western European history there was two major trends: the professionalism of physicians who belonged to the upper classes and the folk healers who lived among the peasant population. The professionals developed in order to enhance their status in life, while the folk healers developed out of the necessity to survive.

The Greco-Roman Period

The greatest health contribution of the Romans was sanitation. They built aqueducts, sewage systems, and the famous Roman baths in cities, not only in Europe, but everywhere they went.

  • {Public Health}Sanitation, cleanliness, and general hygiene while often wrongly portrayed as an accomplishment of modern medicine is directly related to the Greek goddess Hygeia. The Roman's low-tech approach to the promotion and preservation of health is strongly rooted to natural health. The Romans clearly were able to implement sanitation without the modern concept of science or modern peer reviewed journals.
  • {Hydrotherapy}Roman Baths made social bathing an art form. Romans first had oil rubbed onto their skin. Next they would move to the warm room where they would lie around chatting. From there, it was on to a hot and steamy bath. Here they sat and perspired, scraping their skin with a curved metal tool. After a dip in hot bath water they would take a quick dip in cold water. By the year 300 A.D. there were over 900 baths throughout the empire. At its peak, 13 aqueducts supplied ancient Rome with 300 gallons of water per person per day.
    • 70 A.D.>{Hydrotherapy}The Romans built a spa and dedicated it to the honor of the goddess Sulis Minerva around the hot mineral springs at Bath, in what is now England. The springs at Bath generate more than one million gallons of mineral water at 120°F each day. This mineral water contains numerous elements such as magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and calcium.
  • {Surgery}Surgery was advanced by the need for treating gladiators and battlefield injuries, without the modern concept of science or peer reviewed journals.
  • {Surgery}Gladiators and soldiers under the Romans were treated in crude hospitals.
  • {Public Health}Varro (116-27 B.C.), Vitruvius(70-25 B.C.), and Columelia (first century A.D.) advanced the idea that malaria was caused by small animals or insects coming out of the swamps. Roman architects accepted this hypothesis and devised building techniques to prevent these rodent invasions.
  • 78 A.D.>{Herbalism}Dioscorides (40-90 A.D.) published De Materia Medica ( which means: On Medicines), Europe's first real guide to herbal medicine. It discussed 600 plants. It remained a standard medical reference for over 1,500 years.
  • {Pharmacology}Galen of Pergamum (130-201 A.D.) wrote extensively about the body's four humors: blood, phlegm, black, and yellow bile. Galen made complex mixtures of herbs, animal parts, and minerals called galenicals. Sometimes as many as 25 ingredients were used in one preparation.
    • {Surgery}Galen first gained fame as a talented surgeon who put gladiators back together again in Alexandria.
    • {Allopathy}The Galenic system relied on bleeding and purges of the other bodily fluids according to which unbalanced humor they were thought to balance.
    • {Allopathy}Galen was known for his arrogance. Arrogance would soon prove to be the characteristic trait of professional physicians.
  • {Surgery}Surgery separates from medicine because surgery as a form of manual labor was considered beneath the dignity of a gentleman.

Natural healing practices developed differently in the Old World than they did in the New World.

In Europe, the Church played a central role. At first, the Church suppressed all development. Later on, the Church supported the development of professional physicians. Eventually, the power of the Church literally exterminated much of the competition from folk healers during the witch-hunting period that spanned more than four centuries (from the 14th to the 17th century).

Once physicians gained favor with the newly formed ruling classes they were finally able to do away with competition from midwives.

Autocratic traditions developed over time that gives today's European physicians social status and acceptance.

The Dark Ages

After the fall of Rome, European medicine was dominated by the Church, which adopted the ancient belief that illness was punishment from God and treatable only by prayer and penance. The Church regarded the suffering caused by disease to be the will of God and as a requirement for eternal redemption. Anybody who dared to heal people, outside the authority of the Church, was accused of interfering with the will of God. Folk healers were accused of achieving their successes with the help of the Devil and were called witches. And, the Church, itself, considered the cure, evil.

For eight long centuries, from the fifth to the thirteenth, the godly, anti-science stance of the Church had stood in the way of the development of virtually everything, including medicine and any improvements in the living conditions of the peasant population. Then, in the 13th century, there was a revival of learning, touched off by the crusades that brought contact with the Arab world. Medical schools started to appear in the universities. Perhaps, the greatest medical accomplishment of the Middle Ages was the development of the hospital from a charitable institution into a medical hospital.

  • 1100s-1300s>{Medieval Climate Optimum}"The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was an unusually warm period during the European Medieval period, lasting from about the 10th century to about the 14th century."[18] "During the Medieval Warm Period ... the population of Europe ... exploded, reaching levels that were not matched again in some places until the 19th century."[16] "During this time wine grapes were grown in Europe as far north as southern Britain ... The period was followed by the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that lasted until the 19th century when the current period of global warming began."[18]
  • {Herbalism}The witch trials were concentrated in central Europe, in Germany, Switzerland, and eastern France.[2]
  • {Hydrotherapy}In the 11th century, the King’s Bath was built over the ruins of the temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath. This was originally built as part of an infirmary, but by the 12th century, the magnificent healing powers of the hot springs prompted the founding of Saint John’s Hospital at the site.
  • {Allopathy}As the 12th century opened, universities were founded in Bologna. Montpellier, and Oxford. By its end there were flourishing medical schools at Montpellier, Paris, Bologna and Padua.

From the middle ages through the Reformation personal health in Europe was generally poor. It was a time of plague, pollution and quacksalver mercury poison.

The 1200s

By the end of the 13th century, universities had been established in Paris, Bologna, Padua, Ghent, Oxford, and Cambridge. These universities created a new demand for books.

  • Fourth through eighth Crusades of Western Europe against Islam.
  • 1200>{Pharmacology}Contact with the Arab world caused the apothecary to first appear in Florence, Italy.[6]
  • {Pharmacology}Just as physicians developed their professional status through university study with its Latin materia medica in order to belittle folk healers, pharmacists offered complex galenic potions in order to compete with the simples of the peasantry.[7]
  • {Hydrotherapy}As late as 1250 most towns still had public bathhouses. But, thereafter the bathhouses began to shut down because of the expense of heating the water.

The 1300s

Large clocks began to appear in the towers of several large Italian cities.

  • 1315–1317>{Little Ice Age}"During the Medieval Warm Period (the period prior to 1350) the population of Europe had exploded, reaching levels that were not matched again in some places until the 19th century." "Between 1310 and 1330 northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers." "Starting with bad weather in the spring of 1315, universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until the summer of 1317; ... It was a period marked by extreme levels of criminal activity, disease and mass death, infanticide, and cannibalism."[16] As much as 25 percent of the entire population of Northern Europe died from starvation. More than any other event, the Great Famine of 1315–1317 which marked the beginning of the 'Little Ice Age' (1300-1850) was responsible for the rapid decline in the authority of the Church, which was helpless against this dramatic change in weather patterns.[17]
  • {Public Health}Black Death kills another one third of European population (1347-1351).
  • By 1350{Hydrotherapy}only the rich could afford to bathe during the cold winter months. Good health has a lot to do with good basic personal hygiene.

The 1400s

1461>{Fasting}Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) was canonized by Pope Pius II. Female saints, like Saint Catherine, were viewed during the Medieval period to have fasted in order to demonstrate their purity and holiness. It was then viewed as proof of God's grace. Eventually, during the 19th century this phenomena of fasting along with its associated trances, visions or moments of clairvoyance, and spiritualism will once again return as a public spectacle in the form of fasting girls and male professional carnival freaks who earned their living by starving themselves. The modern mechanical materialism of science says that these Christian saints were just young girls trying to maintain control over their physical bodies in order to avoid womanhood with an eating disorder called anorexia. Science goes way beyond attacking alternative medicine. It ultimately places a direct attack upon the Christian faith and its belief in the physical existence of the soul as well as an attack upon all classical Western values. When science attacks alternative medicine, it is really claiming that everything about a human being can be explained by biology. For with the mechanical materialism of biomedicine, all Western values such as bravery, loyalty, hard work, and free will are only a matter of molecules, genetics, and the right combination of prescription medication..

The 1500s--the Renaissance

The humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature, and learning that originated in Italy and later spreads throughout Europe.

  • Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), a philosopher and writer, was the first person to write that "prevention is better than cure." Erasmus was actually referring to education as a method for preventing human conflict, rather than talking about natural health.
  • {Allopathy}The ontological approach to disease, as real and having an independent existence, was based mainly on the ideas of Paracelsus (1493-1541). This school defined disease as parasites, which were caused by external factors, independent from the personal circumstances of the individual. Paracelsus, the father of modern medicine, insisted on treating the whole being rather than merely the part displaying disease (i.e., birth of Holism).
  • {Hydrotherapy}By the Elizabethan Era, the popularity of the hot springs at Bath had increased greatly and expansions were made upon already existing baths. At this time, the use of spas was becoming more widely accepted throughout Europe and by the 16th century, the Kings Bath, Cross Bath, and Hot Bath drew many visitors who were searching for cures to various illnesses and ailments.
  • {Allopathy}Quack, a shortened form of quacksalver, was an insult used originally against heroic physicians like Paracelsus. It was associated with the use of mercury salves in Europe (Quacksalver). The German form of the word is quacksalber, which is apparently based on the word for quicksilver: quecksilber.[9]
  • 1574>{Hydrotherapy}English royalty and the aristocracy started visiting the hot mineral springs at Bath.
  • {Allopathy}The first medicalization of a normal vicissitude of life took place when the barber-surgeons began to take obstetrics out of the hands of midwives, where it had been since the beginning of time.
  • {Allopathy}The history of medicine revolves around the development of the foreign agent model of disease. Medicine's success in treating disease caused by disease agents is coming to an end almost as quickly as it started, as antibiotics are becoming less and less effective. This primitive model of disease, also, explains why modern medicine is unable to effectively deal with lifestyle diseases which are not generally caused by external disease agents.
  • {Herbalism}Witch hunt persecutions did not reach epidemic levels (1550-1650) until after the Reformation, when the Church had lost its position as Europe's indisputable moral authority.[2]
    • {Herbalism}Witch trial records shows that physicians did in fact blame witchcraft for their treatment failures. Folk healers, also, regularly blamed illnesses on magic and offered counter-spells to cure their patients. Healers made up perhaps 20% of those who were accused of witchcraft.[2] Here, we see an instance of sickness being attributed mainly to supernatural forces rather than solely due to natural causes taking place in a relatively recent time period.
  • {Allopathy}"Medical systems after the Reformation became increasingly fluid in their concepts and less grounded in a social or religious matrix."[3]

The 1600s--the Reformation

A movement in Western Europe that aimed at reforming some doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches.

  • {Allopathy}"Medicine, like art before 1600, was essentially integrated into religion."[3]
  • At the beginning of the 17th century, medical practice in England was divided into three distinct groups: the physicians, the surgeons, and the apothecaries. Physicians were part of the upper class and usually held a university degree. Surgeons, in contrast, were typically apprenticed and hospital trained and often served the dual role of barber-surgeon. The red and white barbershop pole was a sign that was originally used to advertise the services of blood-letters, or the barber-surgeon. Apothecaries also learned their roles of prescribing, making, and selling medicines, with apprenticeships and sometimes within hospitals.
  • {Hydrotherapy}By the turn of the 17th century, the popularity of the hot mineral springs at Bath had increased so greatly, that the city was rebuilt to accommodate its newfound economic development and success.
  • 1633>The Inquisition ordered Galileo (1564-1642) to appear in Rome before them. Found guilty, Galileo was condemned to lifelong imprisonment.
  • 1658>{Allopathy}King Louis XIV was near death with typhoid when heroic antimony was finally administered after much bleeding by his regular physicians and his symptoms abated.[5] Empiricism has shown that some serious diseases are self-limiting and will self-correct even in spite of erroneous treatments. If a patient didn't die and recovered, it was generally assumed that whatever treatment was given must have been responsible for the cure. The practice of allopathy, or heroic medicine, lasted so long precisely because in spite of being drained of their blood and poisoned with highly toxic drugs by allopaths many patients did in fact recover from serious infectious diseases. Every time a famous person, like King Louis XIV, recovered from sickness after receiving heroic medicine these treatment methods became more fashionable to use.

A medical reform movement was started in Europe as a reaction against heroic medicine.

These natural healing practices were originally concerned with treating infectious diseases rather than with preventing lifestyle diseases.

The 1700s--the Enlightenment

A philosophical movement that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms.

  • After 1750>{Allopathy}"Healing was growing increasingly medication-centered. Prescription of medicines was the expected outcome of medical consultation [by physicians]."[8]
  • 1754>{Allopathy}James Lind, a Scottish naval surgeon, conducted the first ever clinical trial, when he studied 12 sailors with scurvy to see if they could be healed by diet. Within six days, the fruits effectiveness was obvious.
  • 1790s>{Allopathy}Medical School curriculum at Edinburgh consisted of 3 years in anatomy, chemistry, theory of medicine, practice of medicine, materia medica, along with hospital rounds.
  • 1796>{Homeopathy}Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) a German physician and chemist beginning with an article he published in a medical journal founded homeopathic medicine.
    • "Homeopathy was probably the first science of therapeutics, based upon clear principles and founded solely on experiments."[3] It was based on a false science perhaps, but nevertheless homeopathy was looking for natural causes rather than for supernatural influences.
  • 1796>{Nature Cure}Christoph W. Hufeland (1762-1836) publishes Macrobiotics, The Art of Extending Human Life. He taught that the primary goal of medicine is not to treat illness, but to maximize life.
  • 1798>{Allopathy}Edward Jenner (1749-1823) demonstrated that a method of inoculation by vaccination with cowpox would produce protection against smallpox. Inoculation with cowpox was actually French folk medicine that Jenner did not discover, but rather reported upon and promoted. Inoculation was, also, a rather dangerous practice.

The Age of Heroic Medicine (1780 - 1850)

Educated professional physicians during this period aggressively practice heroic medicine that consisted of bleedletting (venesection), intestinal purging (calomel or mercury chloride), vomiting (tartar emetic), profuse sweating (diaphoretics) and blistering. In America, probably the most famous victim of heroic medicine was George Washington, who was bled and poisoned to death by physicians on December 14, 1799.

1st half of the 19th Century--Age of Romanticism

This was an artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe characterized by a heightened interest in nature that placed emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination.

  • {Allopathy}"By about 1800, medicine had become a mere panoply of conflicting theories."[3]
  • {Allopathy}"Vitalism [i.e., emphasis on the patients’ recuperative powers] was eclipsed in the 1800s by germs and vaccines. Ever since the time of Koch and Pasteur, the only things of real interest to physicians are molecules and infectious agents. Every other possible cause of disease, internal or external, has been ridiculed, denied, ignored completely or relegated to the sidelines."[3]
  • 1816>{Allopathy}High-tech medicine first started when Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope. Doctors had previously observed patients; now they examined them for the first time.
  • 1817-1926>{Public Health}Six cholera pandemics struck parts of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and the Americas during the course of the nineteenth century. Cholera took thousands upon thousands of lifes, particularly in larger cities such as Paris and London. Pervasive overcrowding, poor sanitation, and the generally filthy conditions of Europe’s burgeoning cities contributed directly to high death rates from infectious diseases. The cure for these cholera pandemics was clean drinking water and would soon be provided by the science of public health through the installation of sanitation infrastructure, rather than from scientific medicine.
  • 1829>{Hydrotherapy}Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1852) opened a hydropathic institute in Grafenberg, which is now Germany. Priessnitz is the father of hydrotherapy or the treatment of disease by means of water.
  • 1830s-1840s>{Public Health}This was the start of the industrial revolution. And, the working class movement saw books, pamphlets and inquiries into the condition of the working classes multiplying all over Europe. Many factory workers found themselves compelled to work long hours, under unsanitary conditions and for low wages.[1] Factory work became dangerous to the long term health of workers.
  • 1835>{Homeopathy}Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy, published the main body of his homeopathic writings and moved to Paris, France at the age of 80 to practice homeopathy. 1830-70 was the Age of Homeopathy in Europe.
    • Hahnemann's definition of Homeopathy was nothing, but a re-birth of Medieval medical theory where the Galenists argued that contraries cure while the Paracelsians held that like cures like. As a gifted linguist Hahnemann knew more about Medieval writings and history then he did of modern science.
  • 1836>{Nursing}Nursing profession first started when a school for nurses was opened by the German clergyman Theodor Fliedner in Kaiserswerth on the Rhine.
  • 1837-1901>{Hydrotherapy}A renewed public interest in health spas took place during the Victorian era.
  • 1840-1850: Many different movements were associated with medical reform; such as Eclectic Medicine, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Hydrotherapy, Medical Galvanism, Magnetopathy and Phrenology.[1]
  • 1840>{Pharmacology}Apothecaries were successfully competing against physicians. Pharmacists in England found out that they could sell directly to the public, give advice and even make house calls. They went from a ratio of 1 apothecary to every 20 physicians in 1780 to an equal number by 1840.[10]
  • 1842>{Public Health}Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population of Great Britain was submitted to the English Parliament by Edwin Chadwick. Chadwick recognized only filth, detectable by the nose and eyes, as the sole cause of pandemic diseases. His solution was the creation of urban sanitation infrastructure: clean drinking water, flush toilets and enclosed sewage systems, and garbage collection.
  • 1848>{Public Health}The Public Health Act of 1848 was inacted. Public health infrastructure was ordered to be built in England.
  • 1848>{Homeopathy}Rosenstein lists 73 homeopathic practitioners in England and Scotland (51 physicians, 22 laypersons). They amounted to something like 300+ in Britain at their peak in 1875.[1]
  • 1848>{Nature Cure}Arnold Rikli (1823-1906) was a lay practitioner who added the use of fresh air and sunlight to the water cure. He is known for having said: "Water is good; air is better, but light is best of all."
  • 1850s-1860s>{Allopathy}The European physician movement of therapeutic nihilism claimed that it is becoming increasingly clear that greater emphasis ought to be placed upon "the patients’ recuperative powers, and less on interference by the physician."[13] This movement started with the French schools causing many medical students to look else where for their education.
  • {Pharmacology}Pharmacists started to isolate pure substances from raw herbs.

Germany became the world center of medical research, training, and pharmaceuticals drawing students from all over the world by the end of the 19th century.

Hygiene and public health became the central focus of emerging urbanization.

Physicians started to realize that patients were more likely to survive if they did not receive their traditional medical treatments.

The Nature Cure movement developed in Europe during the 19th century from the water cure and advocated the use of herbal medications.

2nd half of the 19th Century--The Birth of Modern Medicine

Modern medicine started with the advent of preventive medicine in 1876.

  • {Allopathy}The French school advocated therapeutic skepticism or the limited use of medications while the Austrian school advocated therapeutic nihilism or the complete cessation of medications. The impact of nihilism weakened the emphasis in medical education upon pharmacology and the materia medica. The same French school, also, shifted the emphasis away from the sick as a whole person and stressed a concern with the pathology of individual body parts. This started the modern trend towards medical specialization.
  • {Hydrotherapy}Theodor Hahn (1824-1883), a lay practitioner, advocated using the water cure along with a vegetarian diet.
  • {Allopathy}"In 1851 there were an estimated 6,000 unlicensed medical practitioners operating in the UK but only 5,000 regular, or appropriately qualified, doctors, apothecaries and surgeons."[1]
  • 1853>{Allopathy}The Compulsory Smallpox Vaccination Act was passed in England. From 1853 to 1860, vaccination reached 75% of the live births and more than 90% of the population.
  • 1854>{Hygienic Nursing}Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), who organized and directed a unit of field nurses during the Crimean War, is considered the founder of modern nursing. "Nightingale transformed the poorly ventilated, vermin-infested Barrack Hospital in Scutari into a clean, well-managed facility, and within six months the death rate fell from 40 to 2 percent. After the war Nightingale returned to London and founded her own nursing school."[15]
  • 1858>{Allopathy}The British Medical Act of 1858 meant that no-one could practice medicine without accredited licenses and that such licenses were granted only to those with the approved qualifications.[1]
    • {Allopathy}The Dilemma of the Allopaths: While the healing power of nature could explain away the tiny doses of the homeopaths it also meant that there was no longer any justification for drugs of any kind, let alone large doses.[1] This was the case for therapeutic nihilism.
    • {Allopathy}"There was patently no such thing as a 'medical profession' in the UK prior to the Medical Act of 1858."[4]
  • 1859>Charles Darwin publishes his On the Origin of Species, in London England.
  • 1859>{Hygienic Nursing}Florence Nightingale published two books, Notes on Hospital which advocated the hygienic reform of hospitals and Notes on Nursing. Nightingale wrote: "I use the word nursing for want of a better. It has been limited to signify little more than the administration of medicines and the application of poultices. It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet -all at the least expense of vital power to the patient."[26] Compare her use of vital power and her stress on hygiene, fresh air and diet; to vitalism, or the natural recuperative power of people to heal themselves of disease, and to Natural Hygiene's stress on hygiene, fresh air and diet and their concept of enervation. The health reform movements achieved their success according to scientific medicine by doing nothing, which means in others words by caring for patients with the hygienic nursing style of Florence Nightingale. Their original concern was with treating infectious diseases with hygienic nursing rather than with preventing lifestyle diseases.
  • 1870s>{Allopathy}Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch established the germ theory of disease.
  • 1871>{Allopathy}In Birmingham, England from 1871 to 1874, there were 7,706 cases of smallpox. Out of these, 6,795 had been vaccinated.
  • 1876>{Biomedicine}Robert Koch (1843-1910) proved in Germany that anthrax (Milzbrand) was caused by a specific bacterium, at a time when people still thought that most diseases were caused by poisonous bad air (i.e., miasmas). This event marks the official birth of preventive medicine and the very premature birth of biomedicine. Allopathy unofficially ends, while biomedicine begins.
  • 1880s>{Biomedicine}The rapidly growing pharmaceutical industry introduced numerous synthetic drugs.
  • 1880s>{Biomedicine}Bacteria disease agents of many diseases were identified. The role for technology and the laboratory in the diagnosis of disease grew with these scientific advances.
  • After 1880>{Public Health}Most German cities embarked on the construction of water provision and sewage systems.
  • 1886<{Nature Cure}Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) publishes My Water Cure. Kneipp primarily used water therapy and herbal remedies. He also recommended a simple nourishing diet, fresh air and exercise. Kneipp was a priest who asked for a different life, not for better pills; he asked for the active patient and rejected the passive one.
  • 1890s>{Biomedicine}Vaccination was extended to diphtheria, to typhoid fever, and to cholera and plague.
  • 1890s>{Biomedicine}Medical school curriculum was increased to 4 years with specialties added therein.
  • 1890-1910>{Public Health}While basic sciences made some major advances, no large scale successful applications had yet been made to the cure of human illness by biomedicine. Antibiotics, for example, had yet to be invented. Most major advances in general health actually came from the implementation of low-tech basic sanitary infrastructure in urban areas.[11] And, by the isolation of diseased individuals in hospitals from the public at large.

The 20th Century

  • 1902>{Nursing}The Midwives Act of 1902 represented defeat for the BMA and GMC.
  • 1911>1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published. Britannica's coverage of medicine documents the extent of medical specialization existing during this time period.
  • 1914>Germany invades Belgium on August 4th.
  • 1928>{Biomedicine}Alexander Fleming discovers the antibiotic penicillin. There is no evidence to justify medicine's claim of conquering contagious diseases: “The combined death rate from scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles among children up to 15 shows that nearly 90% of the total decline in mortality between 1860 and 1965 had occurred before the introduction of antibiotics and widespread immunization”[14] While biomedicine, perhaps, succeeded in wiping out smallpox with vaccinations their campaign against tuberculosis has been a well publicized failure in numerous medical journal articles. It is one success story that should be compared against a large number of others vaccines that have been only moderately successful at best. With the flu vaccination being at the bottom of the list, since science has shown that influenza changes every year. Medical science trying to predict which flu will strike a given population is a pseudoscience that can be compared to science forecasting the weather or trying to predict with astrology. Now, compare the cost of vaccinations to the proven effectiveness and cost of providing clean water supplies to impact upon the public health.
  • 1939>Hitler invaded Poland.
  • 1995>Establishment of the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford, UK.

Return to Natural Health Tutorials

A History of Western Natural Healing Practices in Europe Comments:


    1. Peter Morrell, "British Homeopathy during two centuries" Thesis on homeopathy submitted to Staffordshire University for the degree of Master of Philosophy, June 1999.
    2. Jenny Gibbons. "Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt" Issue #5 of the Pomegranate (Lammas, 1998).
    3. The Historical Basis for Integrated Medicine an essay by Peter Morrell, Hon. Research Associate in History of Medicine, Staffordshire University, UK, December 2000.
    4. Medical profession? What medical profession? an essay by Peter Morrell, Hon. Research Associate in History of Medicine, Staffordshire University, UK, February 2001.
    5. Griggs, Barbara. Green Pharmacy : A History Of Herbal Medicine. New York: Viking Press, 1981, page 87.
    6. Porter, Roy. The Greatest Benefit To Mankind: A Medical History Of Humanity. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998, page 116.
    7. Griggs, page 28.
    8. Porter, page 268.
    9. Carter, James P. Racketeering In Medicine: The Suppression Of Alternatives. Norfolk: Hampton Roads, 1992, Chapter 2: Quacksalber.
    10. Loudon, Irvine. "Medical Practitioners 1750-1850 and Medical Reform in Britain." Medicine in Society. Ed. Andrew Wear, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992, page 231.
    11. Dubos, René. The Mirage Of Health. New York: Harper, 1979, page 134.
    12. Harris L Coulter, Divided Legacy - the Schism in Medical Thought, Washington: Wehawken Books, 3 Vols. 1973, references are to Volume III: Science and Ethics in American Medicine 1800-1914, page 61.
    13. Illich, Ivan. Medical nemesis. The expropriation of health. New York: Pantheon Books; 1976.
    14. Nightingale, Florence. Notes on nursing: What it is and what it is not. Appleton and Company, 1860.
    15. From Quackery to Bacteriology: The Emergence of Modern Medicine in 19th Century America, University of Toledo Libraries
    16. Wikipedia, Great Famine of 1315–1317
    17. Wikipedia, Little Ice Age
    18. Wikipedia, Medieval Warm Period

About Us
About You
Contact Us
Web Search
Latest Additions

eVitamins - Save 20% - 75% OFF retail

Featuring natural cures, health, and wellness through the holistic medicine of healthy living.