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Hygiene is properly defined as that branch of biology which designates the conditions upon which health depends and the means by which it may be sustained in all its virtue and purity while we have it, and the means upon which its restoration rests when we have lost it. It is the scientific application of the principles of nature in the preservation and restoration of health. We may also define Hygiene as the science of normal vital development. It comprehends all the laws that determine the changes in living organisms and all the conditions which conduce to or interfere with normal growth and sustenance. It traces these conditions to the unerring laws of nature and thereon establishes its science of life. It demonstrates the great primary principle of human action, that all permanent good, all enduring happiness and all true advancement are found only in obedience to these laws.
Hygiene does not neglect the care of the sick. All true care of the sick recognizes and applies these same laws of nature in providing the needs of the sick and the removal of abnormal conditions. Disease results from disobedience to organic laws. Hygiene, as applied to the sick, is not the mere employment of diet, or of fasting; but it enters into all the causes of disease, seeking to remove these, and supplies all the needs of life in assisting the efforts of nature in restoring health. It provides a simple and healthful diet, carefully adapted to the assimilating powers of the body; it demands pure air and warmth; it provides rest or invigorating exercise as demanded, with other physical and normal Hygienic conditions.
A system of mind-body care that is valid both for a state of health and for one of illness must have as its most prominent feature appeal to the representatives of modern science, a principle capable of unifying all valid means and measures when caring for the organic body when well or sick. Such a principle will set each factor-element of a sound system of care in its proper place and thereby create a grand harmony and an easily understood system. It must be both universal and eternal in application; it can only rest upon one true principle; hence, it will be absolutely identical for each and every human being without regard to race, creed or color, without reference to climate, altitude, age, sex or occupation.
A system of care that must satisfy such enormous demands cannot be of an ephemeral nature nor something susceptible of merely local application. It must not be a fabricated system that some man or group of men have woven together out of disrelated elements, but must be constituted of every elemental factor of life itself. It cannot take aim at one special condition of the human body and mind, one special field of knowledge or organic experience. It cannot be partial to any one form of life or to anything that has to do with the support of life. It must leave open every conceivable opportunity for evolution.
It cannot be a mere fragment of truth; it must be truth itself. Otherwise it will not meet the demands made upon it. It will serve to divide rather than to unify the processes of caring for the well and the sick. It will result in discord between the means of care and the means of restitution, between the powers of life and the means with which to support these powers. If it is not truth itself, it will run counter to its professed principles and create biological antagonisms instead of biological harmonies.. Instead of becoming a basis for the attainment and maintenance of human health and sanity and of an enduring stability of structure and function, it will become a source of weakness and disease.
Hygiene is not the gift or invention of any man nor group of men nor of any succession of men, but the pristine way of life with which man emerged when he first came upon the earth.
The majestic strength of Hygiene lies in its naturalness, in its utter fitness to meet all the needs of the human organism. The wonders for which it is responsible are latent in its simplicity, in its harmony with the forces of life and in the absence of destructiveness in its relations to the body. The practices of Hygiene grow out of the plainest truths; so far as it is a system, it is founded in the nature of things. When we interfere with the natural systems, we soon discover that our own systems, which we try to substitute for the natural systems, are inadequate and result in wreckage.
Having thus shown that Hygiene legitimately takes cognizance of needs of health, we must seek to know the way which is right and live by it. We must seek to know the way which is wrong and shun it. Exact truth, simple nature, clear sunlight, pure air, fresh soft water, proper food, cleanliness, appropriate exercise, congenial temperature, rest and sleep, correct habits, obedience to the laws of life--are these too radical for the common understanding?
The view that natural living means living the uncultured and precarious life of the rudest tribes is both shortsighted and false. Whether civilized or not, man lives a natural life when he lives in accordance with the laws of his being. There is much in the lives of the rudest tribes that is very unnatural and unphysiological. We need to know not only the factor elements that constitute a system of Hygiene, but we must recognize and integrate all of the many and sometimes apparently contradictory facets of life, to the end that we may understand how to live in every particular. Violence is needed to hold asunder elements which are conjoined in nature, but we have much violence in civilization. It was Galen who classified food, water, sunshine, warmth, air, exercise, rest, wakefulness, the passions and affections of the mind, bowel movements, etc., as "non-naturals," and this false classification or unrecognized echoes of it, remains with us to this day. After all its high and beautiful imaginings, life is prosaic and eats bread--and this bread is a necessity.
In this connection, it is necessary that we keep in mind that Hygiene is not merely a collection of means of caring for the body, but also a group of correlated and integrated principles by which to apply these means. These principles are eternally antagonistic to the drugging system. When Trall declared that if Hygiene were adopted by medical men it would inevitably destroy medicine, he had in mind Hygiene as taught and practiced by Hygienists. He had no thought that physicians would endanger their system by endorsing washing the hands and scrubbing the teeth. Hygiene seeks to establish and understand the natural laws, or the regularity with which health and disease happen and to build on this sure basis of law. Lacking a rational, cohesive framework of valid principles, all the facts in the world fail to gain meaning. In fact, under such limitations, one may drown in facts. The limitations also tend to undue emphasis on subjective factors. Because it is based upon valid principles, Hygiene affirms its supremacy and its eventual acceptance by the peoples of the world. This will result in the eventual oblivion of the schools of healing.
Hygienic means health preserving. Practically, it implies the observance of the laws of life. It pertains to the integrity of everything that lives. It applies to the vegetable and animal kingdoms as much as to the human realm. Every form of life has its appropriate Hygiene. As there in a basic oneness of life, human Hygiene, animal Hygiene and plant Hygiene, despite their obvious variations, are basically one. This is the reason we said earlier in this chapter that a valid system of Hygiene will be universally applicable.
The recuperative agencies and influences of nature with which living organisms are surrounded, both in woods, fields, gardens and public parks, are such as have a normal or physiological relationship to the living organism, such as the virtue hidden in pure air, the wholesome substances contained in foods, the great value of sunshine and warmth, the beneficent effects of pure, cool water, both as drink and as bath, the vital value of the many and varied forms of physical exercise, the open window that transforms the chamber of sickness into the cheerful abode of health, rest and sleep that restore fagging energies, the judicious use of fruits, the natural food of man, and last but not least, as it occupies a most exalted place in the essential factors of healthy and healthful existence, the potent influences of the emotions upon the body--both in health and in disease, are needs common to all forms of life. We propose no "faith cure," but would emphasize that the mind has more to do with the condition of the body and recovery from a state of disease than many have any idea or are willing to allow.
Why not include the giver of drugs among our arrangements for health? Because he has nothing to do with the human organization while under the conditions of health, but only while in a state of disease, and then only to further outrage the laws of life by administering the foes of life and health. In the words of Trall: "We repudiate all the teachings of all the drug schools in the world, so far as principles are concerned." Our system of Hygiene "has its principles in the laws of nature themselves."
It is logical to assume that in a primitive and natural state of society, normal intuition (instinct) would control the activities of the organism of man, as it does of other animals, and that good health would predominate. Is it heresy to say that man is fully endowed in the germ to carry on the functions of living without the benefit of "pedagogic warrants," that he is possessed of an inherent, though now well suppressed, knowledge of life? It is through the means of the senses and the instinctive demands of the organism that those means that pertain to organic life and development are distinguished by man.
Man possesses animal appetites which he inherited along with his structure as integral parts of his organism. By this is meant that he possesses desires for food, water, activity, rest, sleep, the urge to reproduce himself, the urge to defend himself from danger or to flee from it, etc. It is not necessary that we assume that these appetites are inherited tendencies from some ape-like ancestor. They are part of man as they are part of all other animals, because man has the same need for them. They are expressions of the inner needs of man himself. We talk of how close to the surface are man's "animal appetites," always with the connotation that there is essentially something base with these appetites. Never was a greater mistake made.
Natural Hygiene (no other hygiene is valid) must comprehend the whole man in all of his relations of body and mind and in all his relations to his environment. Hygiene is a plan of living that is adapted to human beings and not to spiritual creatures. It is adapted to supply the physiological needs of a living organism, not one that fills the organism with exotic and adventitious materials of a deleterious character. The Hygienic System is based squarely upon the ascertained facts and principles of physiology and biology. What is urgently required today is a revolutionary new orientation of biology. It is an unfortunate fact that biologists and physiologists conceive it to be their duty to supply a basis for the drugging practice and not to supply valid principles for a way of life.
Of all animals man should be the healthiest, for he has it within his power to control the elements of his environment in his own interest and to provide himself with all the elements of a healthy existence. He has the intelligence required to investigate and understand his elemental needs and to apply these under all the varying circumstances and conditions of life. His resources are never as limited as are those of the lower animals.
An analysis of hygiene, as it is understood and practiced by man of today, reveals it to be very inadequate and filled with elements that are far from natural. If we think only of the food factor in the plan of conventional hygiene, we are confronted with a food supply that violates the very cardinal principles of good nutrition. Yet, the conventional authorities in medicine and in the field of accepted hygiene accept and approve this processed and refined diet, together with condiments and additives, and also accept and approve what they call "moderation" in tea and coffee, tobacco, alcohol, poisoned soft drinks, etc. This is the reason it became necessary to supplement the term Hygiene with the adjective, Natural, in order to distinguish it from the spurious hygiene taught by medicine.
A rational Hygiene will study and understand exactly and precisely the nature and influences and the uses of air, water, food, sunlight, rest, sleep, activity or exercise, temperature, clothing, housing, noise, the emotions, the sex life, occupations, habits, environment and other factors of living, and apply the knowledge daily, hourly, constantly, acting ever and always in proper relation to the laws of life, to the end that health may be preserved and restored. Hygiene does not pay an exaggerated attention to exercise alone or to diet alone or to sunshine alone or to emotional poise alone or to any other factor alone. A well-rounded, correlated and integrated system which includes all the conditions and materials of healthy life and that excludes all the conditions and materials that are inimical to health is essential, as health must be built and maintained as a unit and must rest upon a total way of life. It is certainly wrong to withhold from the body a full supply of all of its needs in keeping with its capacity to utilize them. Only harm can result from habitual excesses of any kind, such as overeating, overeating on some particular food factor, over activity, sexual excesses, too much water, over sunning and other forms of excess. Health is based on the proper use and not the abuse of the normal factors of life.
The Hygienic System embraces all the laws of life. It does not consist, as many suppose, of merely eating certain types of food, or of fasting, but in the observance of all the important principles upon which health depends--in eating pure food, breathing pure air, avoiding improper drink and so forth. Surrounded and governed by influences of this kind, the animal kingdom, or that portion of it which is not corrupted by man, is living in uninterrupted health and to suppose that mankind suffer without cause or that they could not be equally free from disease, or to attribute their sufferings to Divine Providence, as is often done, is folly.
Hygiene must embrace in its scope all the details included in the foregoing brief outline of its resources. To suggest a too inclusive reliance upon food alone or exercise alone or fasting alone or upon some other single Hygienic factor, irrespective of the physiologic needs of the system, is to fail of complete success. As important as may be the gains made from an outdoor life, we should not permit these to blind us to the importance of all other Hygienic needs of the well and the sick organism. We cannot expect full results in any case when we partially or completely subjugate all of the Hygienic factors to one. If we resort to diet to the neglect of all else in the life of the individual, whether well or sick, we may do considerable good, but we certainly will fall far short of doing all the good that can and should be done.
The Hygienic System is simply the intelligent and lawful application of all the life requirements brought to bear upon the living organism in due proportion and according to need. These means maintain the body in health, when properly used; they are adequate to the needs, and nothing else is, of the body in sickness. So simple are the conditions that wild nature lays down for human care that every man may look after himself once the people have been educated out of ages-old fallacies and have returned to the simple truths of nature that man knew in his prime. Every man and woman should understand the demands of nature and should be able to apply his or her knowledge to his or her own body and mind.
A tree that has its roots in soil adapted to its wants and has all other conditions indispensable to its growth and development will grow into a beautiful tree. So also with man. The first condition of his true and healthy development is found in the normal supply of all the conditions of a healthy life. "Who so would build individual or social life without health," said Dr. Nichols, "is like the man who would raise trees without roots, build houses without foundations, or attempt any other stupid and useless enterprise."
The subject of health with the means of its attainment and the promotion thereof worthily constitutes a science by itself and as such we shall regard it, in all our considerations of the subject, as being founded upon thoroughly scientific principles. Hygienists have taught from the beginning that an abounding health is man's normal condition--that sickness is abnormal. It is obvious to all who will take a candid view of the matter that man is constituted for beauty and health and that he becomes diseased and ugly as a result or consequence of violating the laws and requisite conditions of his organization. The possibilities of disease, of impairment, of change, are great and manifold; but with all the liabilities, the securities against them are ample and man has but to keep within these proper limits and life to him will be a succession of pleasurable events without a taint of bitterness. Health is his normal condition, sickness an abnormal state.
Hygiene sweeps a large area in its compass. Its claims are based on foundations as broad as the physiological and biological necessities of man. It sweeps within its orbit his pathological as well as his normal state. It establishes for itself a marked distinctiveness and professes, over, above and independent of the systems of medicine, to be complete in itself, requiring only the assistance of surgery, to have in itself a sufficiency of means to meet the emergencies of disease. But slightly more than a century and a quarter have elapsed since the Hygienic revival was first launched. But a century and 45 years have elapsed since it was demonstrated by an extensive experience, as Trall said in the July 1872, issue of The Science of Health, that all so-called diseases are better managed without drugs.
The Hygienic System is one by which both the well and the sick are cared for solely by the employment of Hygienic materials and influences. A Hygienic substance or influence may be defined as one that is conducive to the promotion of health. But, lest this definition be regarded as ambiguous, let us re-state it thusly: a Hygienic material or influence is one that is normally employed by living organisms in their development, growth and function. It is that upon which life depends. Hygiene thus becomes the employment of materials, agents and influences that have a normal relationship to life, in the preservation and restoration of health according to well-defined laws and demonstrated principles of nature.
There must always be a normal relation between the living organism, whether well or ill, and the material things and conditions that contribute more or less perfectly to sustain physiological phenomena. If we pause for a minute and consider the fact that these substances and influences supply the very materials out of which life and health are built up, that each of them has a direct, positive and indispensable role to serve in those vital processes by which living activities are maintained at every moment, then we have something tangible, impressive, directly addressed to the reason, carrying full conviction to the mind, that an adequate supply of each of these basic needs of life is essential to supply the positive, urgent and constant demands of the vital organs for materials to sustain them in a state of health and vigor.
It is not correct, however, in speaking of the application of Hygiene to the sick, to speak of Hygienic medicines, for there are no Hygienic medicines. The term medicine is from a Latin word meaning healing. A medicine is a healing agent. But healing is a vital process and is not done by any agent. In truth, there are no medicines of any kind. There is no such thing as the practice of medicine, because nobody can practice healing. Hygiene preserves health and restores it with the use of those elements on which existence itself depends. If health is man's normal state, the means for its maintenance and restoration must be outside of any arrangements that shall include a profession whose claim to confidence is that it deals audaciously with poisons as remedies.
What is sadly lacking among the members of the various schools of curing is a knowledge of the laws and conditions that are favorable to the healthy development and healthy actions of the living organism. The possession of such knowledge would enable them to make a practical application of all influences and materials that are favorable to healthy actions and higher developments. In an article published in the Journal, June 1855, D. W. Hall, M.D., said of these influences and materials, that they "are all embraced in what this school (the Hygeo-Therapeutic School) recognizes as Hygienic agencies." On this occasion, Dr. Hall said: "Understanding, as we do, the two systems (the medical and the natural) to be mutual antagonists, there is an important duty devolving upon us. If we and our successors and cooperators live true to our own principles as we now understand them, our reward will be in a revolution of the whole medical science." This is a significant challenge to Hygienists, not to work for reform, but for the overthrow of a false system and supplanting it with a true one.
Do not any of you decide positively that there is no truth in our philosophy of life and in our practices because sometimes some of our number get sick. Do not condemn Hygiene until it has been lived in all its perfection and then failed. To believe in Hygiene is not enough; it is necessary to be totally committed. We must make due allowances for the unfavorable circumstances under which many of our number exist. We do not live in a world that is organized on Hygienic principles. We have many who profess that we would all be better off if we drank only water and ate less flesh food, yet keep right on drinking tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks and eat liberally of flesh. They permit their appetites, feelings and passions to run away with their judgment. We have stressed the importance of a full Hygienic program and the evils that flow from a lack of one thing needful.
Impatient men and meddlesome women are never content to be quiet and permit the processes of nature to operate without interference. They are forever tampering and tinkering with the functions of life--they meddle with their stomachs, bowels, livers, kidneys, skin, etc. Instead of letting their vital organs and their functions alone, they meddle with them so much that they impair and cripple them. They must always be "doing something." They meddle with the processes of life in sickness in the same manner and to a much greater extent.
We can no more live Hygienically by one act of Hygiene than we can support our bodies by eating once in a lifetime. Constant reception of truth, daily living Hygienically, are indispensable to wholeness of life. Those Hygienists who are only intermittent in their Hygienic living should not expect desirable results.
Nothing can better illustrate the self-reliant vitality, the inherent truthfulness of Hygiene, than its everyday triumphs over the many and formidable obstacles that are placed in its way. So intrinsically superior is the Hygienic way of caring for the human organism to any other system ever offered to man or practiced by him, that noihing is needed to commend it to the general judgment and acceptance of man but a full understanding of it. Hygiene, as a system of care both of the well and the sick, is manifestly based on principles that command the respect and allegiance of the candid, because of its foundation on physiological law.
"No man," said Jesus, "putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God." The principle here expressed is that when you have abandoned the old and inferior ways for new and superior ways and look back and lust after the inferior ways, you are not worthy of a place in the better sphere. It should be impressed upon all who want to live a truly Hygienic life that, looking back, longing for the inferior ways, returning at intervals to them and not looking steadfastly ahead, leads to failure.
Writing in The Science of Health, May 1875, W. Perkins, M.D., said: "So long as we would live pure and free of pain, we must continue the Hygienic prescription." The sick man, having recovered health by a Hygienic program, can expect to remain well only so long as he continues to live Hygienically. He should know that if he returns to his old disease-building mode of living, he will again develop disease.
It is true and the truth may as well be expressed, that it is much more difficult to live Hygienically at home, in a great many instances, than to do so away from home. It is more difficult to live a life true to principle at home among the accustomed indulgences than among strangers. It is much more difficult to deny ourselves and our friends, too, than to deny ourselves only. As for the strangers we meet in our travels, they care not what we eat or drink or how we behave. It is easy enough everywhere to eat right if we have principle and are willing to do so; but, if we are but half-hearted in our efforts and not convinced of our principles, it is amazing how many things get in our way.
It is quite difficult for many people to understand that Hygienic materials and influences may become causes of disease, that they may do so by abuse. Everything is ours to use, not to abuse. Bad effects result from the abuse of any normal, wholesome thing of life. We may drink too much water; we may bathe too much or too often; we may take water at wrong times; we may not get sufficient water. Water is not to be condemned because somebody drowned in the lake last week; but neither is it to be abused, because its abuse may result in injury and death. The over consumption of the best of foods will produce trouble. Too much sunshine, too much exercise, too much of anything becomes harmful. The old adage: "The more of a good thing the better," is simply not true.