Article ID: CBB439665499

Sebastian Kneipp and the Natural Cure Movement of Germany: Between Naturalism and Modern Medicine (2016)


This study discusses the historical significance of the Natural Cure Movement of Germany, centering on the Kneipp Cure, a form of hydrotherapy practiced by Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897). The Kneipp Cure rested on five main tenets: hydrotherapy, exercise, nutrition, herbalism, and the balance of mind and body. This study illuminates the reception of the Kneipp Cure in the context of the trilateral relationship among the Kneipp Cure, the Natural Cure Movement in general, and modern medicine. The Natural Cure Movement was ideologically based on naturalism, criticizing industrialization and urbanization. There existed various theories and methods in it, yet they shared holism and vitalism as common factors. The Natural Cure Movement of Germany began in the early 19th century. During the late 19th century and the early 20th century, it became merged in the Lebensreformbewegung (life reform movement) which campaigned for temperance, anti-tobacco, and anti-vaccination. The core of the Natural Cure Movement was to advocate the world view that nature should be respected and to recognize the natural healing powers of sunlight, air, water, etc. Among varied natural therapies, hydrotherapy spread out through the activities of some medical doctors and amateur healers such as Johann Siegmund Hahn and Vincenz Prie β nitz. Later, the supporters of hydrotherapy gathered together under the German Society of Naturopathy. Sebastian Kneipp, one of the forefathers of hydrotherapy, is distinguished from other proponents of natural therapies in two aspects. First, he did not refuse to employ vaccination and medication. Second, he sought to be recognized by the medical world through cooperating with medical doctors who supported his treatment. As a result, the Kneipp cure was able to be gradually accepted into the medical world despite the “quackery” controversy between modern medicine and the Natural Cure Movement. Nowadays, the name of Sebastian Kneipp remains deeply engraved on the memories of German people through various Kneipp spa products, as well as his books such as My water Cure and Thus Shalt Thou Live! Wörishofen, where Kneipp had served as catholic priest as well as hydrotherapist for 42 years from 1855, changed its name to “Bad Wörishofen” (“Wörishofen Spa” in German). The Kneipp Cure and the Natural Cure Movement became a source of ecologica l thought which is currently gaining more and more sympathy from German people. It is regarded as a lieu de mémoire (site of memory) reflecting the collective identity of German people.

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Authors & Contributors
Jennings, Eric Thomas
Bradley, James G.
Del Vivo, Caterina
John A. McCarthy
Bottaccioli, Francesco
Pareti, Germana
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Social History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Biology
Medicina Historica
Atti e Memorie, Rivista di Storia della Farmacia
The Chemical Educator
University of Pittsburgh Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
History Press
Duke University Press
Alternative medicine
Virchow, Rudolf Carl
Driesch, Hans Adolf Eduard
Uexküll, Jakob Johann von
Wöhler, Friedrich
Spemann, Hans
Nichols, Mary Sargeant Gove
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
17th century
Great Britain
Guadeloupe (Caribbean)

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