Nature Cures

Nature Cures : The History of Alternative Medicine in America

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The recent explosion of interest in alternative and complementary approaches to healing is the surprising culmination of a full two centuries of competition and conflict between mainstream medicine and numerous unorthodox systems of treatment. Nature Cures establishes the historical context for contemporary debate over the role of unconventional medicine in health care by examining the evolution of the major alternative systems in America from 1800 to the present. These include botanical medicine, homeopathy, hypnotism and mental healing, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, and acupuncture, as well as a discussion of the European roots of systems not native to the United States. Attention is given to both the theories and therapies developed by each system and the interactions of each with the medical profession and with society at large. Particular emphasis is placed on the philosophy of "natural healing" that has been espoused by alternative practitioners throughout history and the distinctive interpretations of "nature cures" developed by the different more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 167.1 x 241.3 x 31.8mm | 743.9g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195140710
  • 9780195140712

Table of contents

PART 1: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: NATURAL HEALING; 1. The Hippocratic Heresy: Alternative Medicine's Worldview; 2. Every Man His Own Physician: Thomsonianism; 3. Dilutions of Grandeur: Homeopathy; 4. Physical Puritanism: Hygieotherapy; 5. Magnetism and Mind: From Mesmerism to Christian Science; PART 2: THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY: DRUGLESS HEALING; 6. The Licensing Question: The Campaign for Medical Freedom; 7. The Rule of the Artery: Osteopathy; 8. Innate Intelligence: Chiropractic; 9. Therapeutic Universalism: Naturopathy; PART 3: THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY: HOLISTIC HEALING; 10. From Medical Cultism to Alternative Medicine; 11. The Holistic Health Explosion; 12. From Alternative Medicine to Complementary Medicine; CONCLUSION: THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: THE AGE OF CURAPATHYshow more

About James C. Whorton

James C. Whorton is Professor of the History of Medicine in the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington. An authority on the history of medicine and health, his books include Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society; Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers; and Before Silent Spring: Pesticides and Public Health in Pre-DDT more

Review quote

"A lively, entertaining, and well-documented introduction to the history of unconventional medicine in the U.S. over the past two centuries.... There's much here to interest and perhaps amaze anyone who has ever been a patient."--Kirkus Reviews"A significant contribution, Nature Cures provides a valuable perspective on the unconventional therapies that for many decades have, to the dismay of organized medicine, attracted large numbers of Americans engaged in the pursuit of health."--Science"Thorough, enjoyable, and rigorous, this study documents the major 'unconventional' healing movements of 19th- and 20th-century America. This book fills a large gap.... Highly recommended."--Library Journalshow more

Review Text

A lively, entertaining, and well-documented introduction to the history of unconventional medicine in the US over the past two centuries. Whorton, who teaches a consciousness-raising course on alternative approaches to healing at the Univ. of Washington School of Medicine, neither condemns nor recommends these practices but seeks a further entente between orthodox and alternative medicine through increasing each group's understanding of the other. Alternative medicine has had a long and colorful history in the US, and Whorton's fair-minded account is filled with fascinating details of its conflicts with mainstream medicine. He explores the roots, foreign and domestic, of various alternative systems, their shared values, their common perceptions of orthodox medicine, and the reasons behind mainstream medicine's efforts to suppress their activities. While some nonstandard approaches to healing are widely familiar today-chiropractic, acupuncture, and Christian Science, for example-Whorton brings to light some long-forgotten ones. Who but a medical historian recalls Thomsonianism, developed by a New Hampshire farmer whose regimen relied on botanicals and the inducement of vomiting and sweating? Or hydropathy, which employed copious amounts of water both inside and out? Whorton gives these and other therapies a historic context, relating them to the political thought and social movements of their times. Especially interesting is the story of how osteopathy, once scorned by orthodox medicine, has gradually been absorbed by it. In his conclusion, Whorton notes that the redesignation of some unconventional approaches as "complementary medicine" and the emergence of "integrative medicine" indicate a growing recognition that alternative approaches of various types may indeed have something to offer in balancing the treatments offered by conventional medicine. While health-care professionals are the primary audience, there's much here to interest and perhaps amaze anyone who has ever been a patient. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

26 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 27% (7)
4 19% (5)
3 50% (13)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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