Nature Cures

Nature Cures : The History of Alternative Medicine in America

3.75 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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From reflexology and rolfing to shiatsu and dream work, we are confronted today by a welter of alternative medical therapies. But as James Whorton shows in Nature Cures, the recent explosion in alternative medicine actually reflects two centuries of competition and conflict between mainstream medicine and numerous unorthodox systems. This is the first comprehensive history of alternative medicine in America, examining the major systems that have emerged from 1800 to the present. Writing with wit and with fairness to all sides, Whorton offers a fascinating look at alternative health systems such as homeopathy, water cures, Mesmerism, Christian Science, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, and acupuncture. He highlights the birth and growth of each system (including European roots where appropriate) and vividly describes both the theories and the therapies developed within each system, including such dubious practices as hour-long walks barefoot in snow or Samuel Thompson's "puking and steaming" regimen.
In particular, Whorton illuminates the philosophy of "natural healing" that has been espoused by alternative practitioners throughout history and the distinctive interpretations of "nature cure" developed by the different systems. Though he doesn't hesitate to point out the failings of these systems, he also shows that some "cult medicines" have eventually won recognition from practitioners of mainstream medicine. Throughout, Whorton writes with a light touch and quotes from contemporary humorists such as Mark Twain. His book is an engaging yet authoritative history that highlights the course of alternative medicine in the U.S., providing valuable background to the wide range of therapies available today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 153.9 x 240.8 x 26.2mm | 508.03g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195171624
  • 9780195171624
  • 2,108,828

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 * 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 Journal * A distinguished and respected writer about health and medicinal studies, Whorton gives us a thorough, deeply researched and objective history of alternative medicine. Presented in a relaxed and reliable style, this book is highly readable and surprisingly entertaining. * Statesman Journal * A lively tale filled with fads and quackery, much of which was sanctioned by the medical establishment of its day, while efficacious regimes that are still practiced today were denounced. In so doing, he remains remarkably evenhanded and touches on the lives and reputations of such notables as Mary Baker Eddy, Catherine Beecher (sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe) and Daniel Webster. * New York Daily News * An authority on the history of medicine and health...his engaging, authoritative, and interesting book provides a valuable background to the wide range of therapies available today. * NAPRA Review * 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 *
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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
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Table of contents

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Rating details

28 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 29% (8)
4 21% (6)
3 46% (13)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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