Observations of Nature
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Hygienic Review 1944
Recently a very intelligent
young lady spent a few weeks
at the Health School. Born and
reared in New York City she
had completed High School and
spent a few years in College in
At the time she was here, two girls were working here who had been born and
reared on farms in Texas and neither of them had had much formal education.
One of them, indeed, due to illness during most of her younger life, had been
in school but little.
The young college bred lady considered herself superior to the two corn-fed
belles and openly deprecated their ignorance. It's an old story that
"knowledge puffeth up."
Then, one day, while gazing out the window, she saw a hen fly up into a tree.
She was afraid to believe her own eyes. She did not know that hens could fly.
She asked the two "ignorant" girls about it and they assured her that hens can
Discovering her lack of knowledge of animal life, they told her that cows can
also fly. She did not want to believe this, but she was afraid to doubt it. She
later asked me about the matter.
A few days thereafter she caught a glimpse of what she thought might be an
udder on a mare. First she asked the girls and then she asked me if mares
have udders and if they suckle their young like cows. This, too, she had
discussed with the "ignorant" girls, but after their kidding about cows flying,
she did not know whether or not to believe them.
A few days later this young lady confessed to me that she envied the two girls
- that though they had little formal education, they knew many things she did
not know. Girls that are born and brought up in the country, she added, just
naturally learn things without effort. "I sometimes feel ashamed of myself
when I hear them talking about things of which I know nothing."
This young woman had studied biology in school. But some of the simplest
facts of animal life were unknown to her. She was ignorant of facts about the
life and habits of animals that even mere children of the country are well
I recite this instance, not to discredit formal education, but to point out it's
limitations and shortcomings. It was not the fault of the above mentioned
young woman that the most commonplace facts of life in nature were
unknown to her. She had been brought up out of contact with nature and her
schooling had not given her much of the knowledge she would have "grown
into" in a natural environment.
In a recent article entitled This Is My Faith, Louis Bromfield, briefly mentions
his early life close to nature and then remarks:
"It was from the beginning just a part of my education and of my spirit. It was
only as I became older that I became self-conscious about it and understood
with objectivity the great value of the knowledge I had drunk in without thinking
about it. I began to understand what Shakespeare meant when he wrote of
'sermons in sticks and stones.'"
Years spent in observation of Nature provides a wealth of knowledge and a
form of education that is not obtained in any other manner. The child of nature
may truly be said to drink in knowledge without thinking about it.
Only later in life does he tend to integrate what he has absorbed. Only then
does the value of a first-hand knowledge of living nature begin to be realized.
The person who has not had first hand contact with nature is not conscious of
his shortcomings until he gets out into contact with her and begins to learn
how little he really knows.
Life, itself, life in the raw, holds many valuable lessons for us. The great
outdoors is a classroom. Living out in the fields and forests and coming in
constant contact with untamed, unchanged, unperverted, uncontaminated
and uninfluenced nature teaches those who observe and think a wisdom that
cannot be surpassed by the teacher and the text-book in the class room.
Let no one disparage the teacher and the textbook; but let all of us recognize
their limitations. Let us go to nature; let us learn of her ways and be wise.
Biologists have more or less unconsciously converted the "science of life" into
necrology. I have a library of textbooks and other books on biology. There is
little life in them. In the schools there is much gathering, mounting and
dissecting of butterflies, insects, rats, rabbits, cats, fish, frogs, etc. The
student studies the corpse-he learns the structure of the organism. He learns
little of life.
While Dr. Harry Clements, British Natural Therapist, was in this country I had
much contact with him. On one occasion while we sat in my office in New
York City he told me of being asked by two women (both of them mothers)
who were graduates of Columbia University, both of them had had the course
in biology, if cows suckle their young like mothers do-or, perhaps, it were
more correct to say, as mothers once did.
We discussed the inadequacies of the courses in biology given in the schools
and colleges and we reached the conclusion that instead of the three years
pre-medical work medical students are required to undergo, between High
School and Medical College, they would be better equipped for caring for
patients if they spent this time on a farm or a ranch instead of spending it in
We thought and still think that two or three years spent in close contact with
and in study and observation of living nature will supply the future physician,
Naturopath, Natural Therapist, Osteopath, Chiropractor, Hygienist, etc, with
better training for his work than three years spent in pouring over
diagrammatic drawing of "typical" vertebrates, "typical" worms, "typical"
insects, etc., and in dissecting corpses.
Books are valuable. The schoolroom has its place. The laboratory supplies
information that is not gained elsewhere. Dissection is of great value. The
instructor is of tremendous importance. But all of these things combined
cannot take the place of first-hand observation of living nature.
A few years ago a bewhiskered and longhaired ascetic in New York conceived
the idea that sexual reproduction is the source of degeneracy. He put forth the
idea that parthenogenetic reproduction (virgin birth) is possible and that
through this means a race of supermen and super-women could be
To prove that sex is an evil and a source of evil he told audiences in the big
city that cows refuse relations with bulls and that bulls rape the cows. He
succeeded in inducing many people to believe this nonsense. Only a little
firsthand observation of living nature would have revealed to all of his dupes
that there was no truth in his assertion.
Hunters in the north woods learned many things about bears. They noticed
their eating habits, the winter hibernation and the fact that, though they sleep
through four or five months of winter, they do not foul their dens with bowel
movements. Enema advocates should take notice of this four and five months
without bowel movement.
The hunters noticed two other significant facts that have been fully confirmed
by scientists. When they killed the bears in the spring, they always found a
plug, which they called a "tappin" or a "dottle" in the rectum. They thought the
bear prepared this stopper and placed it in the rectum before going to sleep
for winter to prevent the escape of any of the food in the intestine.
Biologists, studying the matter, found this "tappin" to be a hardened piece of
feces. It occurs automatically and not by intent. I have seen the same thing
more than once in fasting patients. Except in cases of hemorrhoids or
incipient hemorrhoids, these plugs never give any trouble.
The second feature noticed by the hunters is that when a bear just settled for
the winter is shot and the bowel opened the stench is "overpowering" the flesh
"nauseating, fishy and unfit for food."
Jan Welzl, a hunter, says, in his Thirty Years In The Golden North, "It is useless
to shoot him (the bear) at the beginning of his winter sleep, because he is then
very fat, and has a disgusting smell of fish oil. The meat smells just as bad."
But the picture is different at the end of the winter's sleep. Welzl says: "But at
the end of the winter sleep he has used it (the fat) all up and then bear's meat is
a delicious treat."
Canadian government biologists confirm this, saying, that by spring the bear’s
flesh has undergone a complete and remarkable change. It has then become
"the most sought after of all northern foods."
Very little residue is found in the alimentary tract. "The bowel was odorless"
say the biologists, "and quite sterile. No cultures of any of the intestinal flora
or bacilli could be obtained."
Enema advocates are especially requested to notice the contrast between the
foulness of the intestines and the unsavoriness of the flesh at the beginning of
winter when regular bowel movements have been experienced and the
odorlessness and sterility of the intestines and savoriness of the flesh after
four to five months without a bowel movement.
I repeat: There is a wealth of valuable information to be gained by observing
living nature. We cannot hope to learn about life by going always to the
morgue. Dissecting frogs and cats and mounting butterflies is a poor
introduction to the science of life.
When I first read an article on fasting (back in 1911), I had been previously
prepared to accept fasting by having seen many sick animals fast. I was not
prepared to accept the supposed need for lots of water drinking in sickness
and especially in acute illness.
For, I had repeatedly observed that the acutely sick animal refuses water. I
had actually attempted to force side cows to drink by taking them to the water
and sticking their noses in it. Sometimes a sick animal will take a sip or two of
water, but it does not drink much or often.
I accepted the enema, especially as a measure to be employed during the fast,
and employed it for the first five years of my practice. But I could not close my
eyes to its many evils and it's unpleasantness.
Finally, I began to think the matter over. I recalled that fasting animals did not
use enemas. If they do not need them, I asked, why do my fasting patients
need them. I began a search of fasting literature. I discovered that Jennings,
Graham, Trall, Dewey, Tanner and others had not employed it in caring for
their fasting patients.
I was told that their patients would have recovered sooner had they employed
the enema. In view of the known and admitted enervating effect of enemas,
this did not seem reasonable.
I still employed the enema when I wrote Fundamentals As Nature Cure (1922) I
advised the enema during the fast. When Dr. Claunch reviewed this book in
Health First, he questioned the use of the enema. It is not a natural method, he
pointed out. This was obvious.
I decided to try omitting the enema during the fast. I did so cautiously at first,
and for only short periods. Gradually I lengthened the periods between the
enemas. Then, at the end of 1924, I discontinued their use.
Did I find that my patients required longer time in which to get well? Did I find
that they developed symptoms of intestinal poisoning? No. I found they
recovered in less time, that they are more comfortable without than with the
enema, and that bowel function after the fast is much more efficient if enemas
have not been used.
If the fast has not been long, the first movement is often very foul. But this
foulness never gets into the blood stream as is popularly believed. I once
cared for a man who had used enemas so long they no longer induced bowel
movements. He would take an enema one morning and expel the water the
There was never any evidence that any of this water was absorbed. There
were no symptoms of poisoning. There was no decrease in the sense of
thirst. There was no increase in urination. The amount of water expelled the
following morning was the same as that injected the morning before.
If toxins are absorbed from the colon they would certainly be more readily and
more abundantly absorbed when the feces are liquefied, as in the above case,
than when the feces are in semi-solid form.
There is no more reason why the colon should (or does) absorb fecal matter
held in it for some time than there is why the bladder should absorb urine held
in it for hours before being voided.
The facts revealed by the study of the bears show that the fasting body is
capable of breaking up (digesting) all germs, viruses and parasites, visible and
invisible and using them as food. It is fully capable of protecting itself.
Observations of nature, both in the wild state, in the domestic state and in
human beings are sufficient to show beyond doubt that the enema is not a
necessary or a helpful expedient. Despite all the propaganda that has been
employed to popularize the enema and all the claims that have been made for
it, the enema is an evil.
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Article: Observations of Nature