History of the National Health Association | National Health Association

History of the National Health Association

Founded in 1948 as the American Natural Hygiene Society, many of the principles upon which the National Health Association is based were devised as long ago as the 1800s—the advantages of following a plant-based diet, the importance of avoiding unnecessary drugs and surgery, the self-healing powers of the human body, and the role fasting can play in the recovery of health.

A small movement began among some physicians who advocated such “revolutionary” concepts as the consumption of whole natural foods, sufficient rest and sleep, adequate fresh air and sunshine, and cleanliness and bathing. Such physicians included the likes of Isaac Jennings, M.D. (1788-1874); Russell Thacker Trall, M.D. (1812-1877); Thomas Low Nichols, M.D. (1815-1901); Harriet Austin, M.D. (1826-1891); Susanna Way Dodds, M.D. (1830-1911); John Tilden, M.D. (1851-1940); and Herbert M. Shelton, N.D. (1895-1985).

These physicians observed that patients who adhered to their unconventional concepts generally experienced better health than those patients who did not. Further investigations led these physicians to a powerful concept—health is the result of healthful living.

Many of the principles advocated by these physicians eventually found their way (to some extent) into the fabric of the American lifestyle, and medicine, by the end of the 19th century. The adoption of exercise, the inclusion of fruits and vegetables into one’s diet, sunbathing, better ventilation in homes and workplaces, and improved sanitary practices all contributed to a healthier population.

The National Health Association is committed to bringing the timeless principles of its founders as well as the most accurate and up-to-date information about healthy living into the new century. At a time when millions of people are suffering needlessly because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, the voice of the NHA offers much needed hope to the world.

In 1998, the Board of Directors approved a change to the Association’s name from the American Natural Hygiene Society to the National Health Association. Many people had never heard of the term “natural hygiene,” and many who had were confused both about its meaning and the Association’s mission. The new name places the focus of the organization where it should be—on health.