Interview with Dr. Nejla Burton

Dr. Nijla BurtonDR. NEJLA BURTON SHARES HER THOUGHTS ON WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME A NATURAL HYGIENIST!

Nejla Burton, D.O., D.C., has been in practice as an Hygienic physician since 1985. She currently co-directs the Arcadia Health Centre in Arcadia (just outside Sydney), Australia with her husband, Alec Burton, M.Sc., D.O., D.C. The Centre specializes in providing Hygienic healthcare and healthy lifestyle education.

Dr. Nejla Burton is a certified member and former president of the International Association of Hygienic Physicians. She travels and lectures on health topics around the world, and she is a popular speaker at the annual ANHS International Natural Living Conferences.

 

Health Science Associate Editor Susan Taylor interviewed Dr. Burton at the 1996 ANHS International Natural Living Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN NATURAL HYGIENE?

Ever since I can remember, I always have questioned the conventional approach to the treatment of the sick. The logic of the Hygienic system immediately appealed to me.

I first heard of Natural Hygiene when my brother, who is a university professor in Melbourne, Australia, introduced me to Dr. Alec Burton’s views, commenting, “This chap presents a very good argument for health!”

I subsequently met Dr. Burton after my mother arranged a consultation with him. He and I immediately developed a close personal and professional relationship based on our mutual interests in a wide range of subjects, from psychology and medicine to science and philosophy. At the time we married in 1976, I was a psychology major at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. After completing my studies, I worked at our Arcadia Health Centre as a clinical psychologist.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN HYGIENIC PHYSICIAN?

As my interest in Natural Hygiene became more compelling, I made the decision to pursue a degree in osteopathic medicine. After five years of study, I graduated in 1985 as a doctor in osteopathy (D.O.). I then completed my internship in fasting supervision with Dr. Burton for qualification in the International Association of Hygienic Physicians (IAHP). When I completed the internship, I was admitted to the membership of the IAHP, and subsequently have served as its president.

HOW DOES YOUR PRACTICE DIFFER FROM A CONVENTIONAL DOCTOR?

The difference is radical. The emphasis of Hygienic care is aimed at trying to remove the causes of disease—physical, mental, and emotional—as far as is possible, and then educating the patient to respect their limitations and pursue an Hygienic lifestyle. There are no medications, supplements, treatments, or therapeutic procedures, which would be common in conventional practice.

Certainly, we use conventional methods of the clinical investigations of diagnosis in order to elicit pathology so that we know what we are dealing with, and, furthermore, whether or not our methods are likely to be effective (prognosis). Our emphasis is on health care rather than disease treatment.

The most difficult aspect of Hygienic practice is the time one has to devote to each patient. It is not possible to understand a patient’s problems, their causes and consequences, unless one gives them time, which most doctors do not do. If a doctor spends only 10 or 15 minutes with a patient, he or she cannot possibly understand the intricacies of chronic problems and, therefore, be of much help.

DOES EDUCATION PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN YOUR PRACTICE?

I personally am passionate about patient education, enabling a patient to accept responsibility, to become involved in his or her own health care, rather than being a therapeutic recipient playing a victim’s role. I want to motivate people to change and try to set them free. That is my ultimate goal.

Over the years, I have seen hundreds of patients get well by the simple yet profound measures employed in Hygienic practice. Many of these people were chronic invalids who had been abandoned by conventional medicine. To witness the chronic and seriously ill recover is very gratifying.

We get patients from all over the world. They often come during the winter in the northern hemisphere to enjoy our summer.

I believe that the Hygienic physician generally should be better educated than the average doctor. First, it is more secure for the patients, and second, the Hygienist frequently finds him- or herself in a defensive position. Every step demands justification and verification.

WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS OUTSIDE PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE?

Living Hygienically involves much more than a preoccupation with health. I think effective living must encompass as many aspects of human nature as practicable.

I am committed to self-actualization in all aspects of my life, so I have a multitude of passions, not the least of which is music. Before I studied psychology, I was a piano student at the Sydney Conservatory of Music for many years. Recently, I acquired a grand piano about which I am very excited, and I have been fortunate enough to reclaim my former standard by studying under Professor Nikolai Evrov, an internationally famous concert pianist.

I also am interested in languages. I majored in French and linguistics at the university, and I speak Arabic and Italian in addition to English and French. Currently, I am studying Spanish, and I have a love of Spanish history.

I think that art expression is a basic psychological need, and I derive great satisfaction from oil painting. I also am studying for a master’s degree in neurology, and anticipate finishing it in 1997.

DO YOU ENJOY OUTDOOR SPORTS?

I enjoy quiet sports—cycling and sailing. Alec and I ride our bicycles regularly. Since we live in the country, we tour the back roads and villages close to the Centre.

Our 42-foot catamaran also affords us great pleasure. It is beautifully set up and we love to get away on the weekend or for a few days and enjoy the local coastal areas, especially the beautiful inland waterways around Sydney. Catamarans do not heel and have a different motion from keel boats. I was never comfortable on keel boats, but I love to sail “cats!”

WHAT ROLES DO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, DR. ALEC BURTON, PLAY AT YOUR CENTRE?

Our roles are reciprocal. One of our advantages is the diversity of our backgrounds, which enables us to satisfactorily complement one another. I must say that I like working with such a unique and knowledgeable professional as Alec, although we have our different approaches. Fortunately, we agree philosophically.

WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES TAKE PLACE AT THE CENTRE?

Over the years, a number of interns have undergone certification for fasting supervision, by training at the clinic. Most of them have developed into fine professionals committed to the Hygienic philosophy.

The Australian College of Hygiene also conducts a minimum two-year correspondence course compiled by Alec, which has proven to be extremely popular. And Arcadia Health Centre is the headquarters of the Australian Natural Hygiene Society, which Alec founded in 1961. This organization publishes a newsletter and conducts regular lectures and seminars with a wide public appeal.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE ARCADIA HEALTH CENTRE?

The Centre is located 25 miles from Sydney. It was architecturally designed and built specifically for the purpose of an Hygienic institution, with expansive gardens, decks, and swimming pool, in a country setting conducive to Hygienic practice.

WHAT BASIC ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER TO A SICK PERSON WHO WISHES TO RECOVER HEALTH?

Obviously, this is a very involved and profound question, but one thing is paramount. The person must be prepared to change. This does not mean making a few petty reforms but a revolutionary change, not only in their way of life, but in their view of life. In addition, the person has to make the change so that avoiding the causes of their problems and securing their needs becomes the number one priority for the rest of their life. The change must become permanent.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF NATURAL HYGIENE?

When you look around today at various health care systems, it is apparent that many, if not all, are emphasizing elements of Natural Hygiene and the Hygienic lifestyle.

There is a greater emphasis on lifestyle than in the past. I think that Natural Hygiene will remain the system of the few, although important elements of it will become popular. The “cause celebre” of Natural Hygiene is fasting, and that, I think, will generally remain in the essential province of Natural Hygiene.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE EVOLUTION OF NATURAL HYGIENE?

Natural Hygiene is not an inflexible system of beliefs like religion. It must grow as knowledge grows. However, it must resist the tendency to adopt changes without cogent and reliable evidence.

The beauty of Natural Hygiene is its simplicity. However, this must not be taken too literally. Piloting the sick person to health requires considerable clinical knowledge and skill. People should not take matters into their own hands, nor should they misplace their faith in enthusiastic amateurs.

There are certain things the doctor must know; otherwise he or she is dangerous. Often, evolved pathology radically alters the body’s response to what may be considered quite a normal material or influence. It is all very well to say “the body knows what it is doing,” or “the body knows best,” but the real difficulty is interpreting the signs and symptoms and ensuring the provision of appropriate needs.

WHAT DOES NATURAL HYGIENE MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?

I think Natural Hygiene is the Rolls Royce of healthcare systems, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have encountered it, especially since I did not have to resort to it because of personal health problems. It also is an honor to join the ranks of female Hygienic physicians and the likes of the illustrious Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919), who was the first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. [See “A Brief History of Natural Hygiene,” Sept./Oct. 1996 Health Science for the story of Dr. Walker.]

Natural Hygiene is not an end in itself but a means that allows me—and you!—to live life effectively.

We all agree that life is to be lived, and if we are fortunate enough to have discovered the Hygienic System, then our lives should be lived much more effectively and productively than the commonplace.

This interview appeared in the November/December 1996 issue of Health Science magazine.