Part 6 out of 7
in a sluggish, atrophied condition. As a result, their system is
overloaded with morbid matter.
Moreover, during the fast the system has to live on its own tissues,
which are being broken down rapidly. This results in the production
and liberation of additional large quantities of morbid matter and
poisons, which must be eliminated promptly to prevent their
However, the atrophic condition of the organs of elimination makes
this impossible and there are not enough alkaline mineral elements
to neutralize the destructive acids. Therefore the impurities remain
and accumulate in the system and may cause serious aggravations and
Is it not wiser first of all to build up the blood on a normal basis
by natural diet and to put the organs of elimination in good working
order by the natural methods of treatment before fasting is
enforced? This is, indeed, the only rational procedure and will
always be followed by the best possible results.
When, under the influence of a rational diet, the blood has regained
its normal composition, when mechanical obstructions to the free
flow of blood and nerve currents have been removed by manipulative
treatment, when skin, kidneys, bowels, nerves and nerve centers, in
fact, every cell in the body has been stimulated into vigorous
activity by the various methods of natural treatment, then the cells
themselves begin to eliminate their morbid encumbrances. The waste
materials are carried in the blood stream to the organs of
elimination and incite them to acute reactions or healing crises in
the form of diarrheas, catarrhal discharges, fevers, inflammations,
skin eruptions, boils, abscesses, etc.
Now the sponge is being squeezed and cleansed of its impurities in a
natural manner. The mucous membranes of stomach and bowels are
called upon to assist in the work of housecleaning; hence the coated
tongue, lack of appetite, digestive disturbances, nausea,
biliousness, sour stomach, fermentation, flatulence and occasionally
vomiting and purging.
These digestive disturbances are always accompanied by mental
depression, the blues, homesickness, irritability, fear,
With the advent of these cleansing and healing crises the
physiological and psychological moment for fasting has arrived. All
the processes of assimilation are at a standstill. The entire
organism is eliminating.
We have learned that these healing crises usually arrive during the
sixth week of natural treatment.
To take food now would mean to force assimilation and thereby to
stop elimination and perchance to interfere with or to check a
beneficial healing crisis.
Therefore we regard it as absolutely essential to stop eating as
soon as any form of acute elimination makes its appearance and we do
not give any food except acid fruit juices diluted with water until
all signs of acute eliminative activity have subsided, whether this
require a few days or a few weeks or a few months.
Some time ago I treated a severe case of typhoid malaria. No food,
except water mixed with a little orange or lemon juice, passed the
lips of the patient for eight weeks. When all disease symptoms had
disappeared, we allowed a few days for the rebuilding of the
intestinal mucous membranes. Thereafter food was administered with
the usual precautions. The patient gained rapidly and within six
weeks weighed more than before the fever. During the entire period I
saw the patient only twice, the simple directions being carried out
faithfully by his relatives.
Hydrotherapy Treatment of Chronic Disease
While in our treatment of acute diseases we use wet packs and cold
ablutions to promote the radiation of heat and thereby to reduce the
fever temperature, our aim in the treatment of chronic diseases is
to arouse the system to acute eliminative effort. In other words,
while in acute disease our hydropathic treatment is sedative, in
chronic diseases it is stimulative.
The Good Effects of Cold-Water Applications
(1) Stimulation of the Circulation. As before stated, cold water
applied to the surface of the body arouses and stimulates the
circulation all over the system. Blood counts before and after a
cold-water application show a very marked increase in the number of
red and white blood corpuscles. This does not mean that the cold
water has in a moment created new blood cells, but it means that the
blood has been stirred up and sent hurrying through the system, that
the lazy blood cells which were lying inactively in the sluggish and
stagnant blood stream and in the clogged and obstructed tissues are
aroused to increased activity.
Undoubtedly, the invigorating and stimulating influence of cold
sprays, ablutions, sitz baths, barefoot walking in the dewy grass or
on wet stones and all other cold-water applications depends largely
upon their electromagnetic effects upon the system. This has been
explained in Chapter Ten, "Natural Treatment of Acute Diseases."
(2) Elimination of Impurities. As the cold water drives the blood
with increased force through the system, it flushes the capillaries
in the tissues and cleanses them from the accumulations of morbid
matter and poisons which are one of the primary causes of acute and
As the blood rushes back to the surface it suffuses the skin, opens
and relaxes the pores and the minute blood vessels or capillaries
and thus unloads its impurities through the skin.
Why We Favor Cold Water
In the treatment of chronic diseases some advocates of natural
methods of healing still favor warm or hot applications in the form
of hot-water baths, different kinds of steam or sweat baths,
electric light baths, hot compresses, fomentations, etc.
However, the great majority of Nature Cure practitioners in Germany
have abandoned hot applications of any kind almost entirely because
of their weakening and enervating aftereffects and because in many
instances they have not only failed to produce the expected results,
but aggravated the disease conditions.
We can explain the different effects of hot and cold water as well
as of all other therapeutic agents upon the system by the Law of
Action and Reaction. Applied to physics, this law reads: "Action and
reaction are equal but opposite." I have adapted the Law of Action
and Reaction to therapeutics in a somewhat circumscribed way as
follows: "Every therapeutic agent affecting the human organism has a
primary, temporary, and a secondary, permanent effect. The
secondary, lasting effect is contrary to the primary, transient
The first, temporary effect of warmth above the body temperature,
whether it be applied in the form of hot air or water, steam or
light, is to draw the blood into the surface. Immediately after such
an application the skin will be red and hot.
The secondary and lasting effect, however (in accordance with the
Law of Action and Reaction), is that the blood recedes into the
interior of the body and leaves the skin in a bloodless and
enervated condition subject to chills and predisposed to "catching
On the other hand, the first, transient effect of cold-water
applications upon the body as a whole or any particular part is to
chill the surface and send the blood scurrying inward, leaving the
skin in a chilled, bloodless condition. This lack of blood and
sensation of cold are at once telegraphed over the afferent nerves
to headquarters in the brain, and from there the command goes forth
to the nerve centers regulating the circulation: "Send blood into
As a result, the circulation is stirred up and accelerated
throughout the system and the blood rushes with force into the
depleted skin, flushing the surface of the body with warm, red blood
and restoring to it the rosy color of health. This is the secondary
effect. In other words, the well-applied cold-water treatment is
followed by a good reaction and this is accompanied by many
permanent beneficial results.
The drawing and eliminating primary effect of hot applications, of
sweat baths, etc., is at best only temporary, lasting only a few
minutes and is always followed by a weakening reaction, while the
drawing and eliminating action of the cold-water applications, being
the secondary, lasting effect, exerts an enduring, invigorating and
tonic influence upon the skin which enables it to throw off morbid
matter not merely for ten or fifteen minutes, as in the sweat bath
under the infiuence of excessive heat, but continually, by day and
The Danger of Prolonged or
Excessively Cold Applications
As we have pointed out in the chapter dealing with water treatment
in acute diseases, only water at ordinary temperature, as it comes
from well or faucet, should be used in hydropathic applications. It
is positively dangerous to apply ice bags to an inflamed organ or to
use icy water for packs and ablutions in febrile conditions.
Likewise, ice or icy water should not be used in the hydropathic
treatment of chronic diseases. Excessive cold is as suppressive in
its effects upon the organism as are poisonous antiseptics or
The baths, sprays, douches, etc., should not be kept up too long.
The duration of the cold-water applications must be regulated by the
individual conditions of the patient and by his powers of reaction;
but it should be borne in mind that it is the short, quick
application that produces the stimulating, electromagnetic effects
upon the system.
In the following pages are described some of the baths and other
cold-water applications that are especially adapted to the treatment
of chronic diseases.
How to Keep the Feet Warm
The proverb says: "Keep the head cool and the feet warm." This is
good advice, but most people attempt to follow it by "doctoring"
their cold feet with hot-water bottles, warming pans, hot bricks or
irons, etc. These are excellent means of making the feet still
colder, because "heat makes cold and cold makes heat."
In accordance with the Law of Action and Reaction, hot applications
drive the blood away from the feet, while cold applications draw the
blood to the feet. Therefore, if your feet are cold and bloodless
(which means that the blood is congested in other parts of the
body), walk barefoot in the dewy grass, in a cool brook, on wet
stone pavements or on the snow.
Instead of putting a hot-water bottle to the feet of a bedridden
invalid, bathe his feet with cold water, adding a little salt for
its electric effect, then rub and knead (massage), and finish with a
magnetic treatment by holding his feet between your hands and
willing the blood to flow into them. This will have a lasting good
effect not only upon the feet, but upon the entire organism.
The following cold-water applications are very effective for curing
chronic cold feet:
(1) Foot Bath
Stand in cold water reaching up to the ankle for one minute only.
Dry the feet with a coarse towel and rub them vigorously with the
hands, or walk about briskly for a few minutes. Repeat if necessary.
(2) Leg Bath
(a) Stand in water up to the calves, then proceed as above.
(b) Stand in water up to the knees, then rub vigorously or walk as
(3) Barefoot Walking
Walk barefoot in wet grass or on wet stone pavements several times a
day, from ten to twenty minutes at a time, or less in case of
weakness. The early morning dew upon the grass is especially
beneficial; later in the day wet the grass or pavement with a hose.
After barefoot walking, dry and rub the feet thoroughly and take a
short, brisk walk in shoes and stockings.
(4) Indoor Water-Treading
Stand in a bathtub or large foottub containing about two inches of
cold water, step and splash vigorously for several minutes, then dry
and rub the feet and increase the circulation by walking around the
room a few times.
(5) Foot Spray
Turn the full force of water from a hydrant or hose first on one
foot, then on the other. Let the stream play alternately on the
upper part of the feet and on the soles. The coldness and force of
the water will draw the blood to the feet.
These applications are excellent as a means of stimulating and
equalizing the circulation and a sure cure for cold and clammy feet,
as well as for sweaty feet.
In this connection, we warn our readers most strongly against the
use of drying powders or antiseptic washes to suppress foot-sweat.
Epilepsy and other serious nervous disorders have been traced to
(6) Partial Ablutions
Partial ablutions with cold water are very useful in many instances,
especially in local inflammation or where local congestion is to be
relieved. The "Kalte Guss" [cold water splashing] forms an important
feature of the Kneipp system of water cure.
Sprays or showers may be administered to the head, arms, chest,
back, thighs, knees or wherever indicated, with a dipper, a
sprinkler or a hose attached to the faucet or hydrant. The water
should be of natural temperature and the "guss" of short duration.
(7) Limb Bath
Take up cold water in the hollow of the hands from a running faucet
or a bucket filled with water, rub arms and legs briskly for a few
(8) Upper Body Bath
Stand in an empty tub, take water in the hollow of the hands from a
running faucet or a bucket filled with cold water and rub briskly
the upper half of the body from neck to hips, for two or three
minutes. Use a towel or brush for those parts of the body that you
cannot reach with the hands.
(9) Lower Body Bath
Proceed as in (8), rubbing the lower part of the body from the waist
(10) Hip Bath
Sit in a large basin or in the bathtub in enough water to cover the
hips completely, the legs resting on the door or against the sides
of the tub. While taking the hip bath, knead and rub the abdomen.
Dry with a coarse towel, then rub and pat the skin with the hands
for a few minutes.
The duration of the hip bath and the temperature of the water must
be adapted to individual conditions. Until you are accustomed to
cold water, use water as cool as can be borne without discomfort.
(11) The Morning Cold Rub
The essentials for a cold rub, and in fact for every cold-water
treatment, are warmth of the body before the application, coolness
of the water (natural temperature), rapidity of action and friction
or exercise to stimulate the circulation. No cold-water treatment
should be taken when the body is in a chilled condition.
Directly from the warmth of the bed, or after sunbath and exercise
have produced a pleasant glow, go to the bathroom, sit in the empty
tub with the stopper in place, turn on the cold water, and as it
flows into the tub, catch it in the hollow of the hands and wash
first the limbs, then the abdomen, then chest and back. Throw the
water all over the body and rub the skin with the hands like you
wash your face.
Do this quickly but thoroughly. The entire procedure need not take
up more than a few minutes. By the time the bath is finished, there
may be from two to four inches of water in the tub. Use a towel or
brush for the back if you cannot reach it otherwise.
As long as there is a good reaction, the "cold rub" may be taken in
an unheated bathroom even in cold weather.
After the bath, dry the body quickly with a coarse towel and finish
by rubbing with the hands until the skin is dry and smooth and you
are aglow with the exercise, or expose the wet body to the fresh air
before an open window and rub with the hands until dry and warm.
A bath taken in this manner combines the beneficial effects of cold
water, air, exercise and the magnetic friction of the hands on the
body (life on life). No lifeless instrument or mechanical appliance
can equal the dexterity, warmth and magnetism of the human hand.
The bath must be so conducted that it is followed by a feeling of
warmth and comfort. Some persons will be benefited by additional
exercise or, better still, a brisk walk in the open air, while
others will get better results by returning to the warmth of the
There is no better means for stimulating the general circulation and
for increasing the eliminative activities of the system than this
cold morning rub at the beginning of the day after the night's rest.
If kept up regularly, its good effects will soon become apparent.
This method of taking a morning bath is to be preferred to the
plunge into a tub filled with cold water. While persons with very
strong constitutions may experience no ill effects, to those who are
weak and do not react readily, the cold plunge might prove a severe
shock and strain upon the system.
When a bathtub is not available, take the morning cold rub in the
Stand in an empty washtub. In front of you, in the tub, place a
basin or bucket filled with cold water. Wet the hands or a towel and
wash the body, part by part, from the feet upward, then dry and rub
with the hands as directed.
(12) The Evening Sitz Bath
The morning cold rub is stimulating in its effects, the evening sitz
bath is quieting and relaxing. The latter is therefore especially
beneficial if taken just before going to bed.
The cold water draws the blood from brain and spinal cord and
thereby insures better rest and sleep. It cools and relaxes the
abdominal organs, sphincters, and orifices, stimulates gently and
naturally the action of the bowels and of the urinary tract, and is
equally effective in chronic constipation and in affections of the
kidneys or bladder.
The sitz bath is best taken in the regular sitz bathtub made for the
purpose, but an ordinary bathtub or a washtub or pan may be used
with equally good effect.
Pour into the vessel a few inches of water at natural temperature,
as it comes from the faucet, and sit in the water until a good
reaction takes place--that is, until the first sensation of cold is
followed by a feeling of warmth. This may take from a few seconds to
a few minutes, according to the temperature of the water and the
individual powers of reaction.
Dry with a coarse towel, rub and pat the skin with the hands, then,
in order to establish good reaction, practice deep breathing for a
few minutes, alternating with the internal massage described in a
(13) The Head Bath
Loss or discoloration of the hair is generally due to the lack of
hair-building elements in the blood or to sluggish circulation in
the scalp and a diseased condition of the hair follicles. Nothing
more effectually stimulates the flow of blood to brain and scalp or
promotes the elimination of waste matter and poisons from these
parts than the head bath together with scalp massage.
Under no circumstances use hair tonics, dandruff or eczema cures, or
hair dyes. All such preparations contain poisons or at any rate
strong antiseptics and germcides. Dandruff is a form of elimination
and should not be suppressed. When the scalp is in good condition,
it will disappear of its own accord.
The Diagnosis from the Eye reveals the fact that glycerine, quinine,
resorcin and other poisonous antiseptics and stimulants absorbed
from scalp cures and hair tonics and deposited in the brain are in
many cases the real cause of chronic headaches, neuralgia,
dizziness, roaring in the ears, loss of hearing and sight, mental
depression, irritability and even insanity.
Cold water is an absolutely safe and at the same time a most
effective means to promote the growth of hair, as many of our
patients can testify.
Whenever you have occasion to wash the face, wash also the head
thoroughly with cold water. While doing so, vigorously pinch, knead
and massage the scalp with the finger tips. When feasible, turn the
stream from a hydrant or a hose upon the head. This will add the
good effect of friction to the coldness of the water.
Have your hair cut only during the third quarter of the moon. The
ladies may clip off the ends of their hair during that period.
Skeptics may smile at this as another evidence of ignorance and
superstition. However, "fools deride," etc. The country people in
many parts of Europe, who are much closer and wiser observers of
Nature and her ways than the conceited wise men of the schools, do
their sowing and reaping in accordance with the phases of the moon.
In order to insure vigorous growth, they sow and plant during the
growing moon; but their cutting and reaping is done during the
(14) The Eye Bath
For the eye bath the temperature of the water should be as cold as
the sensitive eyeball can stand, but not cold enough to cause
serious discomfort. A few grains of salt may be added to make the
water slightly saline.
Submerge forehead and eyes in a basin of water, open and close the
lids under water from six to eight times; repeat a few times. Bend
over a basin filled with water and with the hands dash the water
into the open eyes. Fill a glass eye-cup (which can be bought in any
drug store or department store) with water, bend the head forward
and press the cup securely against the eye; then bend backward and
open and shut the lid a number of times.
Many ailments of the eyes, for instance, the much-dreaded cataract,
are caused by defective circulation and the accumulation of
impurities and poisons in the system in general and in the mechanism
of the eyes in particular. All such cases yield readily to our
combination of natural methods of treatment, such as water
applications, massage and special exercises, combined with the
general Nature Cure regimen.
In a large number of cases treated in our sanitarium, patients who
had worn glasses for years were able to discard them. Weakened
eyesight and many serious so-called incurable affections of the eye,
including cataract and glaucoma, have been permanently cured.
Air and Light Baths
Even among the adherents of Nature Cure there are those who think
that air and light baths should be taken out of doors in warm
weather only and in winter time only in well-heated rooms.
This is a mistake. The effect of the air bath upon the organism is
subject to the same Law of Action and Reaction which governs the
effects of water applications.
If the temperature of air or water is the same or nearly the same as
that of the body, no reaction takes place, the conditions within the
system remain the same. But if the temperature of air or water is
considerably lower than the body temperature there will be a
In order to react against the chilling effect of cold air or water,
the nerve centers which control the circulation send the blood to
the surface in large quantities, flushing the skin with warm, red,
arterial blood. The flow of the blood stream is greatly accelerated,
and the elimination of morbid matter on the surface of the body is
What Is the Cause of Poor Skin Action?
Man is naturally an air animal. He breathes with the pores of the
skin as well as with the lungs. However, the custom of hiding the
body under dense, heavy clothing, thus excluding it from the
life-giving influence of air and light, together with the habit of
warm bathing, has weakened and enervated the skin of the average
individual until it has lost its tonicity and is no longer capable
of fulfilling its natural functions.
The compact, almost airtight layers of underwear and outer clothing
made of cotton, wool, silk and leather prevent the ventilation of
the skin and the escape of the morbid excretions of the body. The
skin is an organ of absorption as well as of excretion; consequently
the systemic poisons which are eliminated from the organism, if not
removed by proper ventilation and bathing, are reabsorbed into the
system just like the poisonous exhalations from the lungs are
reinhaled and reabsorbed by people congregating in closed rooms or
sleeping in unventilated bedrooms.
Who would think of keeping plants or animals continuously covered
up, away from the air and light? We know they would wither and waste
away, and die before long.
Nevertheless, civilized human beings have for ages hidden their
bodies most carefully from sun and air, which are so necessary to
their well-being. Is it any wonder that the human cuticle has become
withered, enervated and atrophied, that it has lost the power to
perform freely and efficiently its functions of elimination and
absorption? Undoubtedly, this has much to do with the prevalence of
In the iris of the eye the atrophied condition of the skin is
indicated by a heavy, dark rim, the so-called scurf rim. It
signifies that the skin has become anemic, the surface circulation
sluggish and defective, and that the elimination of morbid matter
and systemic poisons through the skin is handicapped and retarded.
This, in turn, causes autointoxication and favors the development of
all kinds of acute and chronic diseases.
The Importance of the Skin as an Organ of Elimination
Of late physiologists have claimed that the skin is not of great
importance as an organ of elimination. Common experience and the
Diagnosis from the Eye teach us differently. The black rim seen more
or less distinctly in the outer rim of the iris in the eyes of the
majority of people has been called the scurf rim, because it was
found that this dark rim appears in the iris after the suppression
of scurfy and other forms of skin eruptions and after the external
or internal use of lotions, ointments and medicines containing
mercury, zinc, iodine, arsenic or other poisons which suppress or
destroy the life and activity of the skin.
Therefore, when we see in the iris of a person a heavy scurf rim, we
can tell him at once: "Your cuticle is in a sluggish, atrophied
condition, the surface circulation and elimination through the skin
are not good and as a result of this there is a strong tendency to
autointoxication, you take cold easily, and suffer from chronic
catarrhal conditions." Therefore, a heavy scurf rim frequently
indicates what is ordinarily called "a scrofulous condition."
This certainly shows the great importance of the skin as an organ of
elimination and the necessity of keeping it in the best possible
condition. It explains why an atrophied skin has so much to do with
the causation of disease and why in the treatment of both acute and
chronic ailments air and cold water produce such wonderful results.
The favorite method of diagnosis employed by Father Kneipp, the
great water cure apostle, was to examine the skin of his patients.
If the "jacket," as he called it, was in fairly good condition, he
predicted a speedy recovery. If he found the "jacket" shriveled and
dry, weakened and atrophied, he shook his head and informed the
patient that it would take much time and patience to restore him to
health. He, as well as other pioneers of the Nature Cure movement,
realized that elimination is the keynote in the treatment of acute
and chronic diseases.
When Air Baths Should Be Taken
On awakening in the morning and several times during the day, if
circumstances permit, expose your nude body to the invigorating
influence of the open air and the sunlight.
During the hot season of the year and in tropical countries the best
time for taking air and sun baths is the early morning and the late
Persons suffering from insomnia or nervousness in any form are in
nearly every case greatly benefited by a short air bath taken just
before retiring, either preceding or following the evening sitz
bath, as may be most convenient.
Where Air Baths Should Be Taken
If at all possible, air baths should be taken out of doors. Every
house should have facilities for air and sun baths, that is, an
enclosure where the nude body can be exposed to the open air and the
If the air bath out of doors is impracticable, it may be taken in
front of an open window. But indoor air, even in a well-ventilated
room, is more or less stagnant and vitiated, and at best only a poor
substitute for the open air.
It is the breezy, moving outdoor air, permeated with sunlight and
rich in oxygen and ozone, that generates the electric and magnetic
currents which are so stimulating and vitalizing to everything that
draws the breath of life.
This is being realized more and more, and air-bath facilities will
in the near future be considered as indispensable in the modern,
up-to-date house as is now the bathroom.
We predict that before many years the roofs of apartment houses will
be utilized for this purpose and people will wonder how they ever
got along without the air bath.
Our sanitarium has two large enclosures on its roof, open above and
surrounded on all sides by wooden lattice work, which allows the air
to circulate freely, but excludes observation from neighboring roofs
and windows and the streets below. One compartment is for men and
one for women, each provided with gymnastic apparatus and a separate
How Air Baths Should Be Taken
At first expose the nude body to cool air only for short periods at
a time, until the skin becomes inured to it.
Likewise, unless you are well used to the sun, take air baths of
short duration, say from ten to twenty minutes, until your skin and
your nervous system have become accustomed to the influence of heat
and strong light. Prolonged exposure to the glaring rays of the
noonday sun might produce severe burning of the skin, aside from a
possible harmful effect upon the nervous system.
The novice should protect head and eyes against the fierce rays of
sunlight. This is best accomplished by means of a wide-brimmed straw
hat of light weight. In cases where dizziness results from the
effect of the heat upon the brain, a wet cloth may be swathed around
the head or placed inside a straw hat.
It will be found very pleasurable and invigorating to take a cold
shower or spray off and on during the sun bath and to allow the air
to dry the body. This will also increase its electromagnetic effects
upon the system.
The Friction Bath
While taking the air bath, the skin may be rubbed or brushed with a
rough towel or a flesh brush in order to remove the excretions and
the atrophied cuticle. The friction bath should always be followed
by a spray or a cold-water rub.
At the time of the air bath, practice breathing exercises and the
curative gymnastics appropriate to your condition. (See Chapters
Twenty-Eight and Thirty on "Correct Breathing" and "Physical
If the air bath is taken at night, before retiring, the less active
breathing exercises, as numbers 1, 3, 7 and 13, may be taken with
good results, but all vigorous stimulating movements should be
As the plant prospers under the life-giving influence of water and
light, so the cuticle of the human skin becomes alive and active
under the natural stimulation of water, air and sunlight. From the
foregoing paragraphs it will be seen why the air and light baths are
regarded among the most important natural methods of treatment in
all the great Nature Cure sanitariums of Germany.
The lungs are to the body what the bellows are to the fires of the
forge. The more regularly and vigorously the air is forced through
the bellows and through the lungs, the livelier burns the flame in
the smithy and the fires of life in the body.
Practice deep, regular breathing systematically for one week, and
you will be surprised at the results. You will feel like a different
person, and your working capacity, both physically and mentally,
will be immensely increased.
A plentiful supply of fresh air is more necessary than food and
drink. We can live without food for weeks, without water for days,
but without air only a few minutes.
The Process of Breathing
With every inhalation, air is sucked in through the windpipe or
trachea, which terminates in two tubes called bronchi, one leading
to the right lung, one to the left. The air is then distributed over
the lungs through a network of minute tubes, to the air cells, which
are separated by only a thin membrane from equally fine and minute
blood vessels forming another network of tubes.
The oxygen contained in the inhaled air passes freely through these
membranes, is absorbed by the blood, carried to the heart and thence
through the arteries and their branches to the different organs and
tissues of the body, fanning the fires of life into brighter flame
all along its course and burning up the waste products and poisons
that have accumulated during the vital processes of digestion,
assimilation and elimination.
After the blood has unloaded its supply of oxygen, it takes up the
carbonic acid gas which is produced during the oxidation and
combustion of waste matter and carries it to the lungs, where the
poisonous gases are transferred to the air cells and expelled with
the exhaled breath. This return trip of the blood to the lungs is
made through another set of blood vessels, the veins, and the blood,
dark with the sewage of the system, is now called venous blood.
In the lungs the venous blood discharges its freight of
excrementitious poisons and gases, and by coming in contact with
fresh air and a new supply of oxygen, it is again transformed into
bright, red arterial blood, pregnant with oxygen and ozone, the
life-sustaining elements of the atmosphere.
This explains why normal, deep, regular breathing is all-important
to sustain life and as a means of cure. By proper breathing, which
exercises and develops every part of the lungs, the capacity of the
air cells is increased. This, as we have learned, means also an
increased supply of life-sustaining and health-promoting oxygen to
the tissues and organs of the body.
Bad Effects of Shallow Breathing
Very few people breathe correctly. Some, especially women, with
tight skirtbands and corsets pressing on their vital organs, use
only the upper part of their lungs. Others breathe only with the
lower part and with the diaphragm, leaving the upper structures of
the lungs inactive and collapsed.
In those parts of the lungs that are not used, slimy secretions
accumulate, irritating the air cells and other tissues, which become
inflamed and begin to decay. Thus a luxuriant soil is prepared for
the tubercle bacillus, the pneumococcus and other disease-producing
bacilli and germs.
This habit of shallow breathing, which does not allow the lungs to
be thoroughly permeated with fresh air, accounts in a measure for
the fact that one-third of all deaths result from diseases of the
lungs. To one individual perishing from food starvation, thousands
are dying from oxygen starvation.
Lung culture is more important than other branches of learning and
training which require more time and a greater outlay of time, money
and effort. In the Nature Cure regimen, breathing exercises play an
The effectiveness of breathing exercises and of all other kinds of
corrective movements depends upon the mental attitude during the
time of practice. Each motion should be accompanied by the conscious
effort to make it produce a certain result. Much more can be
accomplished with mental concentration, by keeping your mind on what
you are doing, than by performing the exercises in an aimless,
Keep in the open air as much as possible and at all events sleep
with windows open.
If your occupation is sedentary, take all opportunities for walking
out of doors that present themselves. While walking, breathe
regularly and deeply, filling the lungs to their fullest capacity
and also expelling as much air as possible at each exhalation. Undue
strain should, of course, be avoided. This applies to all breathing
Do not breathe through the mouth. Nature intends that the outer air
shall reach the lungs by way of the nose, whose membranes are lined
with fine hairs in order to sift the air and to prevent foreign
particles, dust and dirt, from irritating the mucous linings of the
air tract and entering the delicate structures of the lungs. Also,
the air is warmed before it reaches the lungs by its passage through
Let the exhalations take about double the time of the inhalations.
This will be further explained in connection with rhythmical
Do not hold the breath between inhalations. Though frequently
recommended by teachers of certain methods of breath culture, this
practice is more harmful than beneficial.
The Proper Standing Position
Of great importance is the position assumed habitually by the body
while standing and walking. Carelessness in this respect is not only
unpleasant to the beholder, but its consequences are far-reaching in
their effects upon health and the well-being of the organism.
On the other hand, a good carriage of the body aids in the
development of muscles and tissues generally and in the proper
functioning of cells and organs in particular. With the weight of
the body thrown upon the balls of the feet and the center of gravity
well focused, the abdominal organs will stay in place and there will
be no strain upon the ligaments that support them.
In assuming the proper standing position, stand with your back to
the wall, touching it with heels, buttocks, shoulders and head. Now
bend the head backward and push the shoulders forward and away from
the wall, still touching the wall with buttocks and heels.
Straighten the head, keeping the shoulders in the forward position.
Now walk away from the wall and endeavor to maintain this position
while taking the breathing exercises and practicing the various arm
Take this position as often as possible during the day and try to
maintain it while you go about your different tasks that must be
performed while standing. Gradually this position will become second
nature, and you will assume and maintain it without effort.
When the body is in this position, the viscera are in their normal
place. This aids the digestion materially and benefits indirectly
the entire functional organism.
Persistent practice of the above will correct protruding abdomen and
other defects due to faulty position and carriage of the body.
The following breathing exercises are intended especially to develop
greater lung capacity and to assist in forming the habit of
breathing properly at all times. The different movements should be
repeated from three to six times, according to endurance and the
amount of time at disposal.
(1) With hands at sides or on hips, inhale and exhale slowly and
deeply, bringing the entire respiratory apparatus into active play.
(2) (To expand the chest and increase the air capacity of the
Jerk the shoulder forward in several separate movements, inhaling
deeper at each forward jerk. Exhale slowly, bringing the shoulders
back to the original position.
Reverse the exercise, jerking the shoulders backward in similar
manner while inhaling. Alternate the movements, forcing the
shoulders first forward, then backward.
(3) Stand erect, arms at sides. Inhale, raising the arms forward and
upward until the palms touch above the head, at the same time
raising on the toes as high as possible. Exhale, lowering the toes,
bringing the hands downward in a wide circle until the palms touch
(4) Stand erect, hands on hips. Inhale slowly and deeply, raising
the shoulders as high as possible, then, with a jerk, drop them as
low as possible, letting the breath escape slowly.
(5) Stand erect, hands at shoulders. Inhale, raising elbows
sideways; exhale, bringing elbows down so as to strike the sides
(6) Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly, at the same time clapping the
chest with the palms of the hands, covering the entire surface.
(These six exercises are essential and sufficient. The following
four may be practiced by those who are able to perform them and who
have time and inclination to do so.)
(7) Stand erect, hands at sides. Inhale slowly and deeply, at the
same time bringing the hands, palms up, in front of the body to the
height of the shoulders. Exhale, at the same time turning the palms
downward and bringing the hands down in an outward circle.
(8) Stand erect, the right arm raised upward, the left crossed
behind the back. Lean far back, then bend forward and touch the
floor with the right hand, without bending the knees, as far in
front of the body as possible. Raise the body to original posture,
reverse position of arms, and repeat the exercise. Inhale while
leaning backward and changing position of arms, exhale while bending
(9) Position erect, feet well apart, both arms raised. Lean back,
inhaling, then bend forward, exhaling, touching the floor with both
hands between the legs as far back as possible.
(10) Horizontal position, supporting the body on palms and toes.
Swing the right hand upward and backward, flinging the body to the
left side, resting on the left hand and the left foot. Return to
original position, repeat the exercise, flinging the body to the
right side. Inhale while swinging backward, exhale while returning
The diaphragm is a large, flat muscle, resembling a saucer, which
forms the division between the chest cavity and the abdominal
cavity. By downward expansion it causes the lungs to expand likewise
and to suck in the air. The pressure of air being greater on the
outside of the body than within, it rushes in and fills the vacuum
created by the descending diaphragm. As the diaphragm relaxes and
becomes contracted to its original size and position, the air is
expelled from the body.
(11) (To stimulate the action of the diaphragm)
Lie flat on floor or mattress, the head unsupported. Relax the
muscles all over the body, then inhale deeply with the diaphragm
only, raising the wall of the abdomen just below the ribs without
elevating either the chest or the lower abdomen. Take about four
seconds to inhale, then exhale in twice that length of time,
contracting the abdomen below the ribs.
(12) (Internal massage)
Lie on your back on a bed or couch, knees raised. Relax thoroughly,
exhale and hold the breath after exhalation. While doing so, push
the abdomen out and draw it in as far as possible each way. Repeat
these movements as long as you can hold the breath without
straining, then breathe deeply and regularly for several minutes,
then repeat the massage movements.
Next to deep breathing, I consider this practice of greater value
than any other physical exercise. It imparts to the intestines an
other abdominal organs a "washboard" motion which acts as a powerful
stimulant to all the organs in the abdominal cavity. Internal
massage is especially beneficial in chronic constipation. This
exercise may be performed also while standing or walking. It should
be practiced two or three times daily.
Breathing Exercises to Be Taken in Bed
(13) With hands at side, inhale slowly and deeply, as directed in
Exercise Number (1), filling and emptying the lungs as much as
possible, but without straining. Practice first lying on the back,
then on each side.
(14) Using one-or two-pound dumbbells, position recumbent on back,
arms extended sideways, dumbbells in hands. Raise the arms with
elbows rigid, cross arms over the chest as far as possible, at the
same time expelling the air from the lungs. Extend the arms to the
sides, inhaling deeply and raising the chest.
(15) Lie flat on the back, arms at sides. Grasping the dumbbells,
extend the arms backward over the head, inhaling. Leave them in this
position for a few seconds, then raise them straight above the
chest, and lower them slowly to the original position. Exhale during
the second half of this exercise.
As a variation, cross the arms in front of the body instead of
bringing to sides.
It is a fact not generally known to us western people (our attention
had to be called to it by the "Wise Men of the East"), that in
normal, rhythmical breathing exhalation and inhalation take place
through one nostril at a time: for about one hour through the right
nostril and then for a like period through the left nostril.
The breath entering through the right nostril creates positive
electro-magnetic currents, which pass down the right side of the
spine, while the breath entering through the left nostril sends
negative electro-magnetic currents down the left side of the spine.
These currents are transmitted by way of the nerve centers or
ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system, which is situated
alongside the spinal column, to all parts of the body.
In the normal, rhythmical breath exhalation takes about twice the
time of inhalation. For instance, if inhalation require four
seconds, exhalation, including a slight natural pause before the new
inhalation, requires eight seconds.
The balancing of the electro-magnetic energies in the system depends
to a large extent upon this rhythmical breathing, hence the
importance of deep, unobstructed, rhythmic exhalation and
In order to establish the natural rhythm of the breath when it has
been impaired through catarrhal affections, wrong habits of
breathing, or other causes, the following exercise, practiced not
less than three times a day (preferably in the morning upon arising,
at noon, and at night), will prove very beneficial in promoting
normal breathing and creating the right balance between the positive
and the negative electro-magnetic energies in the organism.
The Alternate Breath
Exhale thoroughly, then close the right nostril and inhale through
the left. After a slight pause change the position of the fingers
and expel the breath slowly through the right nostril. Now inhale
through the right nostril and, reversing the pressure upon the
nostrils, exhale through the left.
Repeat this exercise from five to ten times, always allowing twice
as much time for exhalation as for inhalation. That is, count three,
or four, or six for inhalation and six, eight, or twelve,
respectively, for exhalation, according to your lung capacity. Let
your breaths be as deep and long as possible, but avoid all strain.
This exercise should always be performed before an open window or,
better yet, in the open air, and the body should not be constricted
and hampered by tight or heavy clothing.
Alternate breathing may be practiced standing, sitting, or in the
recumbent position. The spine should at all times be held straight
and free, so that the flow of the electro-magnetic currents be not
obstructed. If taken at night before going to sleep, the effect of
this exercise will be to induce calm, restful sleep.
While practicing the "alternate breath," fix your attention and
concentrate your power of will upon what you axe trying to
accomplish. As you inhale through the right nostril, will the
magnetic currents to flow along the right side of the spine, and as
you inhale through the left nostril, consciously direct the currents
to the left side.
There is more virtue in this exercise than one would expect,
considering its simplicity. It has been in practice among the Yogi
of India since time immemorial.
The wise men of India knew that with the breath they absorbed not
only the physical elements of the air, but life itself. They taught
that this primary force of all forces, from which all energy is
derived, ebbs and flows in rhythmical breath through the created
universe. Every living thing is alive by virtue of and by partaking
of this cosmic breath.
The more positive the demand, the greater the supply. Therefore,
while breathing deeply and rhythmically in harmony with the
universal breath, will to open yourself more fully to the inflow of
the life force from the source of all life in the innermost parts of
This intimate connection of the individual soul with the great
reservoir of life must exist. Without it life would be an
While the alternate breathing exercises are very valuable for
overcoming obstructions in the air passages, for establishing the
habit of rhythmic breathing and for refining and accelerating the
vibratory activities on the physical and spiritual planes of being,
they must be practiced with great caution. These, and other "Yogi"
breathing exercises, are powerful means for developing abnormal
psychical conditions. They are therefore especially dangerous to
those who are already inclined to be physically and mentally
negative and sensitive. Such persons must avoid all practices which
tend to refine excessively the physical body and to develop
prematurely and abnormally the sensory organs of the spiritual body.
The most dangerous of these methods are long extended fasting, raw
food diet, that, is, a diet consisting of fruits, nuts, oils and raw
vegetables and excluding the dalry products, "Yogi" breathing, and
"sitting in the silence." That is, sitting in darkness, in seclusion
or in company with others, while keeping the mind in a passive,
receptive condition for extraneous impressions. These practices tend
to develop very dangerous phases of abnormal and subjective
psychism, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, mediumship and
Aside from breathing, gymnastics in general--or in the case of
illness or deformity, special corrective and curative
exercises--should be taken every day.
Physical exercise has similar effects upon the system as
hydrotherapy, massage and manipulative treatment. It stirs up the
morbid accumulations in the tissues, stimulates the arterial and
venous circulation, expands the lungs to their fullest capacity,
thereby increasing the intake of oxygen, and most effectively
promotes the elimination of waste and morbid materials through skin,
kidneys, bowels and the respiratory tract.
Furthermore, well-adapted, systematic physical exercises tend to
correct dislocations of spinal vertebrae and other bony structures.
They relax and soften contracted and hardened muscles and ligaments
and tone up those tissues which are weakened and abnormally relaxed.
Regular physical exercise means increased blood supply, improved
nutrition and better drainage for all the vital organs of the body.
By means of systematic exercise, combined with deep breathing, the
liberation and distribution of electromagnetic energies in the
system are also greatly promoted.
Most persons who have to work hard physically are under the
impression that they need not take special exercises. This, however,
is a mistake. In nearly all kinds of physical labor only certain
parts of the body are called into action and only certain sets of
muscles exercised, while others remain inactive. This favors unequal
development, which is injurious to the organism as a whole. It is
most necessary that the ill effects of such one-sided activity be
counteracted by exercises and movements that bring into active play
all the different parts of the body, especially those that are
neglected during the hours of work.
Systematic physical exercise is an absolute necessity for brain
workers and those following sedentary occupations. They not only
need breathing gymnastics and corrective movements mornings and
evenings, but should take regular daily walks, no matter what the
condition of the weather. Unless they do this faithfully, their
circulation will become sluggish and their organs of elimination
inactive. The cells and tissues of their bodies will gradually
become clogged with morbid encumbrances, and this will inevitably
lead to physical and mental deterioration.
Weak persons and those suffering from malignant diseases, such as
cancer, tuberculosis, heart trouble, asthma, or from displacements
and ruptures, or who are liable to apoplectic seizures, etc., should
not take these or any other vigorous exercises except under the
supervision of a competent physician. At least twice a day all parts
of the respiratory apparatus should be thoroughly exercised (see
Chapter Twenty-Eight on Breathing Exercises). Deep breathing should
accompany every corrective movement, whether it be a special
breathing exercise or not. Begin your exercises each day with light
movements and change gradually to more vigorous ones, then reverse
the process, ending with light, relaxing movements. When beginning
to take systematic exercise, do not make the separate movements too
vigorous or continue them too long. If any of them cause pain or
considerable strain, omit them until the body becomes stronger and
more flexible. The muscular soreness often resulting from exercise
at the beginning is, as a rule, of little consequence and disappears
before long. The different movements should be practiced in spite of
it, because that is the only way to relieve and overcome this
condition. Stop when you begin to feel tired. Never overdo; you
should feel refreshed and relaxed after exercising, not tired and
shaky. Do not take vigorous exercise of any kind within an hour and
a half after eating, nor immediately before meals. It is a good plan
to rest and relax thoroughly for about fifteen minutes before
sitting down to the table. Whenever practicable, exercise out of
doors. If indoors, perform the movements near an open window or
where there is a current of fresh air. Exercise undressed, if
possible, or in a regular gymnasium suit that gives free play to all
the muscles. If dressed, loosen all tight clothing.~ ~Ladies should
wear their garments suspended from the shoulders by means of
shoulder braces, or so-called reform waists, the skirts being
fastened to these. Always relax physically and mentally before
taking exercise. Apparatus is not necessary to produce results.
However, dumbbells, wands or Indian clubs may be used, but they
should not be too heavy. One-pound dumbbells are sufficiently heavy
in most cases. The exercises described here are intended for
muscular control, flexibility, improvement of the circulation and
increased activity of the vital functions rather than for mere
In the following paragraphs we offer a selection of corrective
movements, graduated from the more simple to those requiring
considerable agility and effort.
In practicing these exercises, it is best to alternate them, that
is, to select, say, six or seven movements, suited to individual
conditions with a view to secure all-around general development and
special practice for those parts and organs of the body that need
extra attention. The time at your disposal will also have to be
Practice these exercises daily for a week. For the following week
select six different exercises, then six more for the third week,
and so on, supplementing the list here given as may be required by
your particular needs. Then start over again in a similar manner.
This is better than doing the same stunts every day. It promotes
all-around development of the body and keeps the interest from
(1) Raise the arms forward (at the same time beginning to inhale),
upward above the head, and backward as far as possible, bending back
the head and inhaling deeply. Now exhale slowly, at the same time
lowering arms and head and bending the body downward until the
fingers touch the toes. Keep the knees straight. Inhale again,
raising arms upward and backward as before. Repeat from six to ten
For exercising the muscles between the ribs and the abdominal
muscles in the back:
(2) Inhale slowly and deeply, with arms at side. Now exhale, and at
the same time bend to the left as far as possible, raising the right
arm straight above the head and keeping the left arm close to the
side of the body. Assume the original position with a quick
movement, at the same time inhaling. Exhale as before, bending to
the right and raising the left arm. Repeat a number of times.
For making the chest flexible. Also excellent for the digestive
(3) Chest Stretcher: This exercise must be performed vigorously, the
movements following one another in rapid succession:
Stand erect. Throw the arms backward so that the palms touch
(striving to bring them higher with each repetition), at the same
time rising on the toes and inhaling. Without pausing, throw the
arms forward and across the chest, the right arm uppermost, striking
the back with both hands on opposite sides, at the same time
exhaling and lowering the toes. Throw the arms back immediately,
touching palms, rising on toes and inhaling as before, then bring
them forward and across the chest again, left arm upper most. Repeat
from ten to twenty times.
An excellent massage and vibratory movement for the lungs.
(4) Exercises for filling out scrawny necks and hollow chests:
Stand erect. Without raising or lowering the chin and without
bending the neck, push the head forward as far as possible, then
relax. Repeat a number of times. Push the head straight back in
similar manner, making an effort to push it farther back each time.
Do not bend the neck. Repeat. Stand erect. Bend the head toward the
right shoulder as far as possible, then relax. Do not rotate the
Bend the head to the left shoulder in a similar manner, then
alternate the two movements. Stand erect. Bend the head forward as
far as possible, making an effort to bring it down farther each
Bend the head backward as far as possible.
Bend the head first forward, then backward. Repeat.
(5) For exercising the muscles of the chest and the upper arm.
Stand erect, elbows to sides, hands closed on chest, thumbs inward.
Thrust out the arms vigorously and quickly, first straight ahead,
then to the sides, then straight up, then straight downward, then
backward. Repeat each movement a number of times, then alternate
them, each time bringing arms back and hands to the original
position quickly and forcefully.
As a variation, raise the elbows sideways to shoulder height with
fists on shoulders, then strike vigorously as before, opening the
palms and stretching the fingers with each thrust. Repeat from ten
to twenty times or until tired.
(6) Stand erect, hands on hips. Keeping the legs straight, rotate
the trunk upon the hips, bending first forward, then to the right,
then backward, then to the left. Repeat a number of times, then
rotate in the opposite direction.
Especially valuable to stir up a sluggish liver:
(7) Lie flat on your back on a bed or, better still, a mat on the
floor, hands under head. Without bending knees, raise the right leg
as high as possible and lower it slowly. Repeat a number of times,
then raise the other leg, then alternate. As the abdomen becomes
stronger, raise both legs at once, keeping knees straight. It is
important that the legs be lowered slowly.
For exercising the abdominal muscles and strengthening the pelvic
organs. This and the following exercise are especially valuable for
remedying female troubles:
(8) Lie flat on back, arms folded on chest. Place the feet under a
chair or bed to keep them in position. Raise the body to a sitting
posture, keeping knees, back and neck straight. Lower the body
slowly to its original position. Repeat from five to ten times,
according to strength.
(9) Stride-stand position (feet about one-half yard apart). Raise
the arms sideways until even with the shoulders, then, without
bending the back, rotate the trunk upon the hips, first to the
right, then to the left.
As a variation of this exercise, rotate from the waist only, keeping
the hips motionless.
An excellent massage for the internal organs:
(10) See-saw motion:
Stride-stand position, arms raised sideways. Bend to the right until
the hand touches the floor, left arm raised high. Resume original
position. Repeat several times, then bend to the left side, then
(11) Chopping exercise:
Stride-stand position. Clasp the hands above the left shoulder.
Swing the arms downward and between the legs, bending well forward.
Return to position and repeat a number of times, then repeat with
hands on right shoulder, then alternate.
(12) Cradle rock:
Clasp hands over head, elbows straight. Bend the trunk to the right
and left side alternately and without pausing a number of times.
(13) Stand erect, feet together. Jump to the stride-stand position,
at the same time raising arms sideways to shoulders, jump back to
original position and lower arms. Repeat from ten to twenty times.
(14) Lie flat on back, arms at side, legs straight. Raise both legs
till they are at right angles with body. From this position sway
legs to the right and left side alternately.
(15) Lie flat on back, arms extended over head. Swing arms and legs
upward simultaneously, touching the toes with the hands in midair,
balancing the body on the hip bones and lower part of spine. Return
to original position and repeat.
This is a difficult and strenuous exercise, and should not be
attempted at first:
(16) Lie flat on stomach, hands under shoulders, palms down-ward,
fingers turned inward, about six inches apart. This will give free
play to the muscles of the chest. Raise the upper half of the body
on the hands and arms as high as possible, keeping the body
straight. Return to position and repeat until slightly fatigued.
(17) Same position as before. Raise the entire body on hands and
toes, keeping arms and legs straight. Return to relaxed position and
repeat the exercise.
As a variation, sway forward and backward while in the raised
(18) Lie flat on stomach, arms extended in front. Fling the arms
upward and raise the upper part of the body as high as possible,
keeping the legs straight. Return to position and repeat, but avoid
(19) Same position as before, but hands on hips or clasped in back.
Raise upper part of body without assistance from hands or arms.
(20) Rocking chair motion:
Sit on a mat or bed, legs straight, arms at side. Recline so that
the upper part of the body almost touches the mat, at the same time
swinging the legs upward. Return to original position and repeat
without any pause between the movements, rocking back and forth
until slightly tired.
As you get stronger, clasp the hands behind the head. As a
variation, rock with the knees bent, hands clasped below them.
Special Exercises for Reducing Flesh and
Strengthening the Abdominal Organs
(21) Lie flat on stomach, heels and toes together, hands stretched
out in front. Fling head and arms upward, at the same time raising
the legs, knees straight. Avoid straining.
(22) Same position, hands clasped on back, feet together. Roll from
side to side.
(23) Lie flat on back, seize a bar (bed rail or rung of chair) just
behind the head. Keeping the feet close together, raise the legs as
high as possible, then swing them from side to side. As a variation,
swing legs in a circle without flexing the knees.
(24) Same position. Raise and lower the legs up and down without
letting them touch the floor, keeping the knees straight.
(25) Lie flat on the back, fold the hands loosely across the
stomach. Raise and lower the upper body without quite touching the
(26) Stand erect, heels together, arms raised above the head. Bend
forward and downward, endeavoring to place the palms of the hands on
the floor in front of the body without flexing the knees. Return
slowly to original position and repeat.
(27) Stand erect, hands on hips. Keeping the body motionless from
the hips downward, sway the upper part of the body from side to side
and forward and backward, and in a circle to right and left.
(28) Stand erect, raise the arms above the head. Rotate the trunk
upon the hips with extended arms, bending as far as possible in each
direction, but avoiding undue strain. These are strenuous movements
and should not be carried to excess or performed very long at a
Physical Exercises for Invalids
Persons who are very weak and unable to be on their feet for any
length of time need not, for this reason, forego the benefits to be
derived from systematic physical exercise.
A low chair, with straight or very lightly curved back and no arms,
or a rocking chair of similar construction with a wedge placed under
the rockers in such a manner as to keep the chair steady at a
suitable angle, is well adapted to the practice of a number of
corrective movements, such as rotating of hips and waist, forward
and sideward bending of the trunk, the various arm and neck
exercises, bending and twisting of feet and toes, the internal
massage (Exercise Number 12) and "Breathing Exercises to be Taken in
Bed," in previous Chapter.
Manipulative Treatment Massage
Massage has very much the same effects upon the system as the
cold-water treatment. It accelerates the circulation, draws the
blood into the surface, relaxes and opens the pores of the skin,
promotes the elimination of morbid matter and increases and
stimulates the electromagnetic energies in the body.
We have learned that one of the primary causes of chronic disease is
the accumulation of waste matter and systemic poisons in the tissues
of the body. These morbid encumbrances clog the capillaries, thus
obstructing the circulation and interfering with or preventing the
normal activity of the organs of elimination, especially the skin.
The deep-going massage, the squeezing, kneading, rolling and
stroking, actually squeezes the stagnant blood and the morbid
accumulations out of the tissues into the venous circulation, speeds
the venous blood, charged with waste products and poisons, on its
way to the lungs and enables the arterial blood with its freight of
oxygen and nourishing elements to flow more freely into the
less-obstructed tissues and organs.
Through manipulation of the fleshy tissues, the blood is drawn to
the surface of the body and in that way the elimination of morbid
matter through the relaxed and opened pores of the skin is greatly
Very important are the electromagnetic effects of good massage upon
the system. The positive magnetism of the operator will stir up and
intensify the latent electromagnetic energies in the body of the
patient, very much like a piece of iron or steel is magnetized by
rubbing it with a horseshoe magnet. The more normal and positive,
morally and mentally as well as physically, the operator, the more
marked will be the good effects of the treatment upon the weak and
The beneficial effect of magnetic treatment is not so much due to
the actual transmission of vital force from operator to patient as
to the arousing and stimulating of the latent, inactive
electromagnetic energies of the latter, the polarizing of his
The horseshoe magnet does not impart its own magnetism to the piece
of iron which is rubbed with it, but the electromagnetic energies in
the magnet arouse to vibratory activity the latent electromagnetic
energies in the iron. This is proved by the fact that both magnet
and iron will remain magnetic as long as they are used for
magnetizing other substances, but through disuse both will lose
their magnetic qualities.
I am often asked by my operators and others: "How can I best develop
my magnetism?" and "Is there danger of losing my vitality and
becoming 'negative' by treating the sick in this way?" It is true
that manipulative work, like everything else, can be overdone and
produce harmful effects upon the operator. But within reasonable
limits, massage and magnetic treatments will not deplete the person
giving them, providing he keeps his system in good condition. His
own vibrations must be harmonious on all planes of being, the
physical, mental, moral and spiritual. He must be inspired and
actuated by the faith that he CAN heal, by the positive will to
heal, and by sympathy for the one he is trying to benefit.
Such an operator makes himself the instrument for the transmission
of life force, which is healing force, from the Source of all life.
"As he gives, so he receives"; for this is the basic law of the
universe, the Law of Compensation. If he gives the treatments in the
right spirit, he will gain vital force instead of losing it. He will
actually feel his own intensified life vibrations and after treating
he will experience a feeling of buoyancy and elation which nothing
else can impart to him. "He who loses his life shall find it."
Like a musician who tunes up (puts in harmonious vibration) the
relaxed strings of his instrument, so the magnetic healer tunes up
and harmonizes the weakened and discordant vibrations of his
Good massage will produce electromagnetic effects even though the
operator is not aware of it and does not understand the underlying
laws; but his work will gain in power and effectiveness in direct
proportion to the conscious efforts he makes to benefit his patients
by the influence of these higher and finer forces.
I have frequently noticed in my own manipulative work how much the
conscious and concentrated effort of the will has to do with its
effectiveness. Often, when I had given the usual massage or
osteopathic treatment and the patient still complained of pain in a
certain locality of the body, I would lay my hands on the affected
area and concentrate my will upon dissolving the congestion in that
particular part or organ and upon harmonizing its discordant
vibrations. Very shortly, usually within a few minutes, the
congestion would be relieved and the pain would subside.
The electromagnetic energies of the organism can be controlled by
the will and either concentrated to or sent away from any part of
the body, just as the circulation of the blood can be controlled.
The latter I saw done by a hypnotist who made the blood flow into
and out of the arms and hands of one of his subjects simply by the
power of his will.
While this was accomplished by means of a destructive process, it
taught me a most valuable lesson regarding the power of the will to
control physical conditions.
Try it yourself. Next time when you have one of your annoying
headaches, recline comfortably in a chair or on a couch, relax
completely and then Will the blood to flow away from the brain in
order to relieve the congestion and the attendant pain. Many of my
patients have learned to treat themselves successfully in this way.
It is obvious that magnetic treatment will not remove pain
permanently if the latter is due to irritation caused by a
subluxated bone or by some foreign body or by local accumulation of
morbid matter and poisons in any part or organ. In all such cases
the local cause of the irritation must be removed before the pain
can subside or disappear.
Spinal Manipulation and Adjustment History
In many European countries "bonesetters" have, in a crude way, been
treating strains and sprains of the spinal column since time
immemorial. These bonesetters usually belong to the peasantry and
the art has been transmitted in the same families from father to son
for many generations.
Incidentally, these simple people observed that their treatment
relieved not only sprained, tired and painful backs--the result
primarily aimed at--but frequently exerted a favorable influence
upon disease processes in remote organs and parts. This empirical
discovery has gradually led to a wider application of this method of
The various modern systems of spinal manipulation, namely,
osteopathy, chiropractic, naprapathy, neuropathy, spondylotherapy
and our own neurotherapy, are all of distinctly American origin.
During the last quarter century millions of Americans through
personal experience have become staunch adherents to one or more of
these systems of treatment. This fact has been instrumental in
directing the attention of numerous sincere and scientific
investigators to the spinal column with its associated structures as
a mechanism through which to apply therapeutic measures. It
therefore behooves every health seeker to acquaint himself with the
theories and claims of these various systems of manipulative
The autobiography of Dr. A. T. Still contains the following
"In the year 1874 I proclaimed that a disturbed artery marked the
beginning to an hour and a minute when disease began to sow its
seeds of destruction in the human body. That in no case could it be
done without a broken or suspended current of arterial blood, which
by Nature was intended to supply and nourish all nerves, ligaments,
muscles, skin, bones and the artery itself. The rule of the artery
must be absolute, universal and unobstructed or disease will be the
result. I proclaimed then and there that all nerves depend wholly on
the arterial system for their qualities such as sensation, nutrition
and motion, even though by the law of reciprocity they furnish
force, nutrition and motion to the artery itself."
It may be argued that as early as 1805 the Ling System of Swedish
Movement was founded on the same principle, namely, "permanent
health through perfect circulation." The evidence at hand, however,
strongly suggests that the founder of osteopathy arrived at his
The further claims of Dr. Still as to the cause and cure of disease
are briefly as follows: Partial displacements of any of the various
bones of the body exert pressure on neighboring blood vessels,
thereby interfering with the circulation to the corresponding
organs. These displacements, called "bony lesions," are best
"reduced" by manipulations called osteopathic "moves."
In 1895, Dr. D. D. Palmer put forth the following claims as to the
cause and cure of diseases: Sprains of the spine result in partial
displacement of one or more of the vertebrae which go to make up the
spinal column, thus exerting pressure on the neighboring nerves.
This shuts off the vitality of the organs supplied by the affected
nerves, hence disease results. These displacements, called
"vertebral subluxations," are best "adjusted" by means of
manipulations in the form of chiropractic "thrusts."
As soon as osteopathy and chiropractic were properly established,
the more broad-minded exponents of both systems began mutual
investigation and amalgamation. As a result, we find that only seven
years after the birth of chiropractic, osteopathic literature began
to mention vertebral subluxations as pressing on nerves, thereby
causing disease. On the other hand, advanced chiropractors soon
began to realize the importance of relaxing tense muscles prior to
delivering their thrusts. They also began to pay attention to the
bony lesions other than those occurring in the spine. Many of the
chiropractic principles and much of its technique of today has been
gleaned from osteopathy, while the reverse statement holds equally
The "connective tissue doctrine of disease" was first proclaimed by
Dr. Oakley Smith in 1907. It may be briefly stated as follows: A
vertebra does not become misplaced without being fractured or
completely dislocated. What is called a bony lesion by the osteopath
and a subluxation by the chiropractor, is in reality a "ligatight,"
that is, a shrunken condition of the connective tissue forming the
various ligaments that bind the vertebrae together.
Ligatights are best "corrected" by means of naprapathic "directos."
These differ from chiropractic thrusts in that they aim not at
adjusting subluxated vertebrae but at stretching definite strands of
shrunken connective tissue. Ligatights occur not only in the spine
but also in other parts of the body.
This system of manipulative treatment was originated in 1899 by Drs.
John Arnold and Harry Walter of Philadelphia. Their claims may be
briefly stated as follows: Morbid matter, poisons and irritants of
various kinds, acting upon the vasomotor nerves which control the
blood vessels, produce abnormal changes in circulation which, if
perpetuated, finally lead to disease manifestations. The nerve
impulses coming from diseased parts travel to the spinal cord and,
like all other nerve impulses, are transmitted along those branches
of the spinal nerves which supply the structures (muscles, blood
vessels, etc.) along each side of the spine. Here these impulses
bring about abnormal circulatory changes similar to those found in
the diseased organs or parts.
Since nerve impulses are transmitted from diseased organs to the
spine, it is evident that they can be made to travel also in the
reverse direction. Neuropathic treatment, therefore, consists of
manipulations and thermal applications which aim at correcting the
abnormal circulatory changes as found in the spine, thereby
correcting corresponding abnormal processes in the organs or parts
supplied by the nerves coming from that region of the spine.
These men also emphasized the fact that the circulation within the
blood vessels, being propelled by the heart, needs less attention
during disease than the circulation of the fluids in the spaces
between the cells and through the lymph vessels and glands.
Neuropathy, therefore, also lays great stress on applying
manipulation and thermal applications to the lymphatic system.
While the exponents of the above systems of spinal manipulation
differ widely in their theories as to the cause of disease and the
means of removing such cause, their methods of treatment furnish
considerable evidence of satisfactory results. This seems to suggest
that there must be some real value in each system and that a great
deal of the difference between these apparently opposed methods of
treatment lies in the claims of their exponents. It will be shown
presently that, in their final analysis, the osteopathic spinal
lesion, the chiropractic subluxation and the naprapathic ligatight
represent one and the same thing.
Natural Therapeutics is broad enough to embrace all methods of
treatment, no matter what their source, provided they harmonize with
the fundamental laws of cure.
Gradually, therefore, after having gathered the constructive
elements from all the various methods of manipulation, after
considerable spinal dissection and, above all, after close
observation of the results obtained in hundreds of obstinate acute
and chronic cases, we of the School of Natural Therapeutics have
evolved our own system of spinal manipulation and have named it
The Relation of Neurotherapy to
Other Manipulative Systems
Osteopathy, chiropractic, naprapathy, neurotherapy and
spondylotherapy, as we have learned, are various systems of
maipulative treatment which have been devised mainly to correct
spinal and other bony lesions, shrinkage and contracture of muscles,
ligaments and other connective tissues.
Important as these methods are in the treatment of acute and chronic
diseases, by themselves they are not all-sufficient because they
deal only with the mechanical causes of disease, not with the
chemical, thermal or with the mental and psychical. The most
efficient spinal treatment cannot make good for the bad effects of
an unbalanced diet which contains an excessive amount of
poison-producing materials and is deficient in the all-important
mineral elements or organic salts. Just as surely as mental
therapeutics and a natural diet cannot correct bony lesions produced
by external violence, just so surely is it impossible to cure
dementia praecox, monomania or obsession, or to supply iron, lime,
sodium, etc., to the system by correcting spinal lesions.
The trouble with the manipulative schools and their graduates is
that they adhere too closely to the mechanical theory and treatment
of disease; that they reject practically all natural methods of
treatment aside from manipulative and that so far as the osteopathic
school is concerned its practitioners show a strong tendency to fall
back upon the "Old School" methods of drugging and of surgical
treatment. This is due to the fact that in many types of diseases
manipulative treatment by itself has proved insufficient to produce
In order to do justice to our patients and not neglect our
responsibilities toward them we must use in the treatment of disease
all that is good in all the natural methods of healing. In serious
chronic cases any single one of these methods, whether it be pure
food diet, hydrotherapy, massage, spinal treatment, mental
therapeutics or homeopathy, is not by itself sufficient to achieve
satisfactory results or to produce them fast enough.
To use an illustration: Suppose a wagon full of freight requires the
combined strength of six horses to move it and suppose that number
of horses is available, would it not be foolish to try to move the
load with one, two, three, four or even five horses? Would not
common sense suggest the saving of time and effort by putting all
six horses to work at once?
In Natural Therapeutics every one of the various methods of
treatment is supplemented and assisted by all the others.
The manipulative schools of healing maintain that practically all
disease is caused by mechanical abnormalities of the spinal column
or of muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues, due to
abnormal strain or injury. The philosophy of Natural Therapeutics,
on the other hand, points out that a large percentage of such spinal
and other mechanical lesions are secondary manifestations of
disease, not primary causes; that acute or subacute inflammatory
conditions in the interior of the body may cause nervous irritation
and thereby contraction of muscles and ligaments and, as a result of
these, subluxations of vertebrae or of other bony structures.
The naprapathic theory of disease postulates that it is the
shrinkage and contraction of the connective tissues, which serve as
a support and protection for the nerve matter contained in the nerve
trunks and filaments, that cause interference with the normal nerve
supply of cells and tissues and thereby abnormal function and
The philosophy of Natural Therapeutics points to the fact that this
shrinkage and contraction of the connective tissues surrounding and
permeating the nerve trunks and filaments is caused by certain acids
and other pathogenic materials which are produced by faulty diet and
defective elimination and that the same causes produce accumulation
of waste and morbid matter in the tissues of the body which, all
through the system, interfere just as effectually with nutrition,
drainage and innervation of the cells and tissue as do spinal
lesions and ligatights.
While the other systems of manipulative treatment confine themselves
almost entirely to the correction of bony and other connective
tissue lesions, to "pressing the button," as it is called,
neurotherapy, besides this, aims at other very important results.
In disease the tissues are either in an abnormally tense and
contracted or in a weak, relaxed condition. The functional
activities are either hyperactive as in acute inflammation, or
sluggish and inactive as in chronic atonic and atrophic conditions.
These extremes can be powerfully influenced and equalized by
manipulative inhibition, relaxation or stimulation.
During an acute attack of gastritis, for instance, the
neurotherapist would exert strong inhibition on the nerves which
supply the stomach. This is accomplished by deep and persistent
pressure on the nerves where they emerge from the spinal openings
(foramina). This diminishes the rush of blood and nerve currents to
the inflamed organ and thereby eases but does not suppress the
inflammatory process and the attending congestion and pain.
In case of extreme tension in any part of the system, relaxation of
the shrunken tissues can be brought about by gentle but persistent
stretching of the nerves and adjacent muscles and ligaments, in a
manner similar to that of the naprapathic directos.
When the vital organs and their functions are weak and inactive or
when nerves, muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues are in
a relaxed, atonic or atrophic condition, certain stimulating
movements applied to the nerves where they emerge from the spinal
column will energize the vital functions all through the system.
Many patients imagine that such manipulative treatment is
superficial. To them it is just "rubbing" and seems all alike. They
do not realize that manipulative stimulation applied to the nerves
near the surface of the body travels all along their branches and
filaments like electricity along a complicated system of copper
wires and thus reaches the innermost cells and organs of the body,
making them more alive and active. This internal stimulation of
vital activities is attained also by good massage through energizing
the nerve endings all over the surface of the body.
The Fundamental Difference Between Neuratherapy
and Other Manipulative Systems
The following paragraphs will explain the fundamental difference
between neurotherapy and the older systems of manipulative
treatment. The older systems, the same as the allopathic school of
medicine, look upon acute diseases as destructive processes
dangerous to health and life; therefore they endeavor to check or
suppress them as quickly as possible by their various methods.
Neurotherapy so far is the only system of manipulative treatment
that bases its work on the fundamental laws of Natural Therapeutics.
According to these laws every acute disease is the result of a
purifying, healing effort of Nature. Therefore neurotherapy would
not suppress acute processes by manipulative treatment any more than
by drugs, ice, antitoxins, surgery or any other suppressive method.
To illustrate: Supposing that spontaneously or as a result of
natural living and treatment a patient suffering from chronic
constipation, indigestion, etc., develops a vigorous purging, which
we of the Nature Cure school would consider a splendid healing
crisis. Under allopathic as well as under the treatment of other
manipulative schools such an acute reaction would be immediately
suppressed. This can be accomplished very easily by a few
manipulative moves, but it would mean the suppression of a purifying
healing crisis and this would result in throwing the patient back
into his old chronic condition. The underlying causes of disease
must be removed before we can cure chronic disease and bring about a
normal condition of the organism.
Suppose manipulative treatment should succeed in stopping a fever
instantaneously. This would suppress Nature's purifying,
regenerating efforts, the patient would continue to "load up" more
morbid materials (especially since these schools do not teach the
importance of natural living) and it would only be a matter of time
until the morbid accumulations in the body would excite new acute
reactions, necessitating more adjustments. This may be all right for
the practitioner; but what about the patient? In the long run it can
only have one result, and that is chronic disease.
Legitimate Scope and Natural Limitations
of Mental and Metaphysical Healing
During the last generation people have perceived more or less
clearly the fallacies of "Old School" medicine and surgery. They
have grown more and more suspicious of orthodox theories and
practices. From allopathic "overdoing" the pendulum has swung to the
other extreme of metaphysical nihilism, to the "underdoing" of
mental and metaphysical systems of treating human ailments.
Some of these systems and cults of metaphysical healing have met
with success and wide popularity and this is looked upon by their
followers as a proof that all the claims and teachings of these
cults and isms are based upon absolute truth.
However, a thorough understanding of the fundamental Laws of Cure,
as I have explained them in this volume, will reveal in how far
their teachings and their practices are based upon truth and in how
far they are inspired by erroneous assumptions.
Let us then apply the yardstick and the weights and measures of
Nature Cure philosophy in testing the true value of the claims of
For ages people have been educated in the belief that almost every
acute disease will end fatally unless the patient is drugged or
operated on. When they find to their surprise that the metaphysical
formulas or prayers of a mental healer or Christian Scientist will
"cure" baby's measles or father's smallpox just as well as, and
possibly better than, Dr. Dopem's pills and potions, they are firmly
convinced that a miracle has been performed in their behalf and
straightway they become blind believers in and fanatical followers
of their new idols.
They simply exchange one superstition for another: the belief in the
efficacy of drugs and surgical operations for the belief in the
wonder-working power of a metaphysical formula, a self-appointed
savior or a reason-stultifying and will-benumbing cult. They have
not been taught that every acute disease is the result of a healing
effort of Nature and therefore fail to see that it is vital force,
the physician within, that, if conditions are favorable, cures
measles and smallpox as easily as it repairs the broken blade of
grass or heals the wounded deer of the forest.
"That is exactly what we say," exclaim healer and scientist. "Have
unlimited faith in the God within and all will be well."
True, faith is good, but faith and works are better. Though we
cannot heal and give life, we can in many ways assist the healer
within. We can teach and explain Nature's Laws, we can remove
obstructions and we can make the conditions within and around the
patient more favorable for the action of Nature's healing forces.
When the Great Master said: "Go forth and sin no more, lest worse
things than these befall you," he acknowledged sin, or the
transgression of natural laws, to be the primary cause of disease,
and made health dependent upon compliance with the Law. The
necessity of complying with the Law, in all respects and on all the
planes of being, is still more strongly emphasized in the following:
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point,
he is guilty of all."
The skeptic and the superficial reader may reply: "This saying is
utterly unreasonable. Stealing a penny is not committing a murder;
overeating does not break the law of chastity; how, then, is it
possible to break all laws by breaking any single one of them?"
There is, however, a deeper meaning to this seeming paradox which
makes it scientifically true.
Self-Control, the Whole Law
Obedience to all laws on all planes of being depends primarily on
self-control. Self-control is, therefore, in a sense, the whole law,
for man cannot break any one law unless he breaks first this
fundamental Law of all Laws. This implies that the demoralizing
effect of sinning or law-breaking, on any one of the planes of
being, does not depend so much upon the enormity of the deed as upon
the loss of self-control. Continued weakening of self-control in
trivial things may therefore, in the end, prove more destructive
than a murder committed in the heat of passion. If there is not
self-control enough to resist a cup of coffee or a cigar, whence
shall come the will-power to resist greater temptations?
Truly, lack of self-control in small things is the "dry rot" of the
soul. Is it not, then, somewhat unreasonable to expect God or Nature
to strain and twist the immutable laws of Nature at the request of
every healer in order to save us from the natural consequences of
overeating, red meat eating, whisky drinking, smoking, tobacco
chewing, drugging and a thousand and one other transgressions of
In spite of the finest-spun metaphysical sophistries, we continue to
burn our fingers in the fire until we know enough to leave it alone.
Herein lies the corrective purpose of that which we call
evil--suffering and disease. The rational thing to do is not to deny
the existence of Mother Nature's punishing rod, but to escape her
salubrious spankings by conforming to her Laws.
What about the "Cures"?
As in medicine, so also in metaphysical healing, men judge by
superficial results, not by the real underlying causes. The usual
answer to any criticism of Christian Science or kindred methods of
cure is: "That may be all right; but see the results! Nobody can
deny their wonderful cures," etc.
Let us see whether there really is anything wonderful or
supernatural about these cures or whether they can be explained on
simple, natural grounds.
In another chapter we explain the difference between functional and
organic disease and show how in diseases of the functional type the
life force or healing force, which always endeavors to establish
normal conditions and the perfect type, may work unaided up to the
reconstructive healing crises and through these eliminate the morbid
encumbrances from the system and reestablish normal structure and
It is in cases like these that metaphysicians attain their best
results simply because Nature helps herself.
On the other hand, in cases of the true organic type, where the
vitality is low and the destruction of vital parts and organs has
progressed to a considerable extent, the system is no longer able to
arouse itself to self-help.
In such cases, faith alone is not sufficient to obtain results. It
must be backed and assisted by all the natural methods of treatment
at our command.
Healers Work with Laws that
They Do Not Understand
In our critical analysis of "Old School" methods we found that by
far the greater part of all chronic ailments is due to drugging and
to surgery. People commence doctoring for little troubles, which are
aggravated by every dose of medicine and every surgical operation
until they end in big troubles.
Is it marvelous that such patients improve and that many are cured
when they are weaned from drugs and the knife?
Metaphysical healers unwittingly do their best and most beneficial
work because they induce their followers not to suppress acute
diseases and healing crises by drugs and surgical operations, thus