Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Medical - 368 pages
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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 and 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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Nature cures: the history of alternative medicine in America

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Thorough, enjoyable, and rigorous, this study documents the major "unconventional" healing movements of 19th- and 20th-century America. Whorton (history of medicine, Univ. of Washington) traces the ... Read full review

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correcting mistake on p 154. Dr Nelson had been denied the right to practice in a court decision in 1898 by a lower Kentucky court. In 1900, the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the lower court and Dr Nelson (and all osteopaths) were allowed to practice in Kentucky. The quotation on page 154 is from the 1898 lawsuit.  

Contents

The Hippocratic Heresy Alternative Medicines Worldview
3
Every Man His Own Physician Thomsonianism
25
Dilutions of Grandeur Homeopathy
49
Physical Puritanism Hygeiotherapy
77
Magnetism and Mind From Mesmerism to Christian Science
103
The Early Twentieth Century Drugless Healing
131
The Licensing Question The Campaign for Medical Freedom
133
The Rule of the Artery Osteopathy
141
The Late Twentieth Century Holistic Healing
219
From Medical Cultism to Alternative Medicine
221
The Holistic Health Explosion Acupuncture
245
From Alternative Medicine to Complementary Medicine
271
The Twentyfirst Century The Age of Curapathy?
297
Abbreviations
308
Notes
311
Index
360

Innate Intelligence Chiropractic
165
Therapeutic Universalism Naturopathy
191

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About the author (2004)


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 America.

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