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Nursing and Nature Cure


Dr. Victoria Goldsten, HD, LPN, LMT

Natural health care therapies are making a strong resurgence and its philosophical basis has much in common with nursing theories. Natural health care has its origins in Hippocratic medicine and the nature cure, and its re-emergence during the Victorian era during the renewal of interest in health. As reflected in Florence Nightingale’s writings the nature cure movement influenced her thinking. Contemporary nursing theories are consistent with natural health care principles in many ways, and a connection between the two disciplines is more relevant today.

Continuing education and fundamentals in nursing education reflects holistic concepts within its curriculum. Grounded in the work of Florence Nightingale, nursing education prepares students to meet the holistic needs of their patients. Holism is a major component of the organizational goals of the American Holistic Certification Corporation, American Naturopathic and Holistic Association, and the American Holistic Nurses' Association.

"Florence Nightingale recognized the importance of caring for the whole person and encouraged interventions that enhanced individuals' abilities to draw upon their own healing powers. She considered touch, light, aromatics, empathetic listening, music, quiet reflection, and similar healing measures as essential ingredients to good nursing care."[1]
"Nightingale transformed the poorly ventilated, vermin-infested Barrack Hospital in Scutari into a clean, well-managed facility, and within six months the death rate fell from 40 to 2 percent."[2]

Nightingale’s methods were parallel to Arnold Rikli’s (1823-1906) who was a lay practitioner, using nature cure theories. He added the use of fresh air and sunlight to the water cure. He has been quoted to say: "Water is good; air is better, but light is best of all." In addition, she also had similar beliefs to Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) who also practiced the nature cure and published My Water Cure. Kneipp primarily used water therapy and herbal remedies. He also recommended a simple nourishing diet, exercise, and fresh air. Kneipp was a priest who asked for a different life. He did not ask for better pills but rather the active patient who was a partner with the practitioners in the healing process.

In 1859 Florence Nightingale published two books Notes on Hospital and Notes on Nursing which discussed hygienic nursing. The books advocated the hygienic reform of hospitals. Nightingale wrote: "I use the word nursing for want of a better. It has been limited to signify little more than the administration of medicines and the application of poultices. It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet -all at the least expense of vital power to the patient." This vital power and her stress on hygiene, fresh air and diet taps into the natural recuperative powers of the body and thereby created the beginnings of the natural health care movement.

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The Maryland Board of nursing published a statement in June of 2000 that permits both LPN’s and RN’s to practice alternative therapies. Washington DC recognizes natural health care continuing education within the licensing renewal process.
References

1. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA), Position Statements, 2004.
2. Nursing, University of Toledo Libraries

Additional Information: Holistic Nursing Article

 

 
 
 
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