Sunday, 30 July 2017

Susan E. Cayleff, Nature’s Path: A History of Naturopathic Healing in America

Susan E. Cayleff , Nature’s Path: A History of Naturopathic Healing in America , Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016. Pp. 408. $39.95. ISBN 978 1 4214 1903 9. Mike Saks Soc Hist Med (2017) 30 (3): 711-712. DOI: Published: 27 February 2017 Cite Permissions Share This well-written and researched book by Susan Cayleff, a professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, traces the labyrinthine history of naturopathy in the USA from its nineteenth-century origins to the present day. As such, it sheds light on the developing philosophy of a populist alternative medical approach based on prevention and healthy living, which positively links mind, body and spirit—as well as encompassing therapies that are aimed at enhancing innate healing processes. The naturopathic belief system is depicted as relating to a wide range of practices from exercise and healthy eating to sunshine and fresh air, with interconnections to specific methods like chiropractic, dietetics, herbalism, homeopathy, hydropathy, hypnotism, iridology, osteopathy and spiritual healing, amongst other therapeutic strands. In this maelstrom of diversity, naturopaths seem... Nature's Path A History of Naturopathic Healing in America Susan E. Cayleff TABLE OF CONTENTS An alternative medical system emphasizing prevention through healthy living, positive mind-body-spirit strength, and therapeutics to enhance the body’s innate healing processes, naturopathy has gained legitimacy in recent years. In Nature’s Path—the first comprehensive book to examine the complex history and culture of American naturopathy—Susan E. Cayleff tells the fascinating story of the movement’s nineteenth-century roots. While early naturopaths were sometimes divided by infighting, they all believed in the healing properties of water, nutrition, exercise, the sun, and clean, fresh air. Their political activism was vital to their professional formation: they loathed the invasive, depletive practices of traditional medicine and protested against medical procedures that addressed symptoms rather than disease causes while resisting processed foods, pharmaceuticals, environmental toxins, and atomic energy. Cayleff describes the development of naturopathy’s philosophies and therapeutics and details the efforts of its proponents to institutionalize the field. She recognizes notable naturopathic leaders, explores why women doctors, organizers, teachers, and authors played such a strong role in the movement, and identifies countercultural views—such as antivivisection, antivaccination, and vegetarianism—held by idealistic naturopaths from 1896 to the present. Nature’s Path tracks a radical cultural critique, medical system, and way of life that links body, soul, mind, and daily purpose. It is a must-read for historians of medicine and scholars in women’s studies and political history, as well as for naturopaths and all readers interested in alternative medicine. Susan E. Cayleff is a professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. She is the author of Wash and Be Healed: The Water-Cure Movement and Women’s Health. "An engaging history of naturopathy, this exhaustively researched and meticulously documented book is an invaluable contribution to nineteenth- and twentieth-century medical and social history." — Barbara Melosh, author of The Physician's Hand: Nurses and Nursing in the Twentieth Century