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In the Transactions of the State Medical Society of Michigan for 1872 (pp. 85-6) are the following significant words: "Every intelligent physician feels the want of a science of therapeutics. All the other branches of medicine have attained a respectable scientific basis, but the science of cure, if there be one, has eluded all search. Medical practice is largely empirical . . . With intelligent people, the Homeopath, the Hydropath, and the Eclectic receive their full share of patronage . . . In the older communities, where general education is more extensive, these same pathies do not fade away, but the contrary. Add to this the claim that the results of their practices are at least as favorable as ours, taken as a whole, which we cannot disprove, and we cannot fail to see that we are held at a disadvantage."
This confession that they had no science of cure could be made today with equal truth. A few years previous to the publication of the Transactions a resolution was adopted at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association in St. Louis in which the living teachers and leading minds of the profession charged that medicine was "erroneous in theory and fatal in practice." Thus they agreed with the Hygienists of the era who opposed the medical system because they believed it to be false and, as they declared, had no scientific basis. They declared the whole drug medical system to be in opposition to nature, at war with the living organism and disastrous in practice.
Trall answered the lament of the Michigan physicians over their lack of a science of cure in these words: "But the underlying question is: should disease be cured? We say no. And we challenge all the medical men of all the earth to prove the affirmative. When they will show that diseases ought to be cured, we will thenceforth be as zealous advocates for drug medication as we now are for hygienic medication.
"What is disease that it should be cured? If it is a fiend, demon, ghost or goblin, anything supernatural, cure it or kill it by all means. If it is any foreign substance, entity or force--anything preternatural, ditto. In either case, arrest it, suppress it, subdue it, cast it out, cure it, kill it--anything to get rid of it. Bleed, blister, dose, poison the blood, saturate the vital organs with drugs of every name and nature and with potencies of high and low degree; some of them may hit it and kill it and that is curing it.
"But what about the patient? Every dose is a war on his vitality. And all the dosing and drugging is one stupendous blunder. Diseases should not be cured. It is the patient that should be cured. Disease is an effort of the vital organism to recover the normal condition."
Here was the real challenge to the men of medicine, of all schools, and they failed to meet it. They have persisted in their refusal to even consider the question: should disease be cured? That it should be cured follows logically from their vague conception of its essential nature as an adventitious and exotic foe that had attacked the organism. To this date, disease is an attack upon the body, so far as medical theory and practice is concerned.
To cure disease, the sick have been poisoned, blistered, puked, purged, electrocuted, bled, transfused, cupped, leeched, irradiated, cut on, buried up to their necks in mud, burned, pricked, tortured, whipped, baked, broiled, frozen, steamed, mauled, pulled, twisted, punched, had pus put into their bodies, have been stung by bees, had the venom of snakes injected into them and subjected to so many and such evil abuses, all in the name of cure, that to catalogue all of these means of abusing the sick would be the work of a lifetime.
The means that have been adopted with which to treat the diseases of man are as varied as the imaginations of physicians are credulous. Some forms of treatment are so strenuous as to be worse offenders against the integrity of the organism than are the original causes of the patient's troubles. The popular mode of expressing this fact is to say that the cure is worse than the disease. The sands of time are strewn with the wrecks of such cures. The same sands are strewn with the skeletons of those who died prematurely because of these cures.
Funk and Wagnall's New Standard Dictionary of the English Language defines cure to mean "the return to a healthy or sound condition . . . to get rid of by treatment . . . as, to cure a patient of pneumonia or a sore hand." Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines cure to mean "the successful treatment of a disease or wound . . . a system of treating disease . . . a medicine effective in treating disease." In these definitions by the two dictionaries there are two definitions of cure. The first definition given by Funk and Wagnalls implies a reinstatement of health in an organism that is suffering with disease. The remaining definitions of both dictionaries imply that a cure is a process or an agent that works upon the body from without. They have reference to external means whereby, it is assumed, health is restored--it is supposed to be some defect supplied or means wrought or foreign or external aid. The sick man is treated and physicked in the confident assurance that he is fitted and burnished for new service. It is assumed that those symptoms which we call disease are necessarily and "invariably evidences of a destructive process and that certain substances known to be inimical to health are yet, also, antagonistic to disease and that on special occasions they may be special vivifying means, differing from those usually necessary and working upon local parts a curative action that differs from the ordinary nutritive and reproductive process. A cure, in other words, is something wrought upon the body from without.
In popular and professional thought, the sick would scarcely be said to be cured, however perfect the recovery, without the employment of some medical means; hence, cure has reference to an external rather than an internal resource; it is the operation or effect of something foreign to the body.
A few years ago a cure for arthritis was announced. Cortisone, a glandular preparation, was said to be a sure cure in this disease. It was not claimed that the cause of arthritis was known. It was not claimed that cortisone removed the cause of arthritis. The cortisone was administered and the symptoms cleared up as if by magic. The first clearing up of symptoms was heralded with enthusiasm as a successful cure. Only a short time was to pass before it was realized that this cure was as illusory as all past cures. A similar experience followed the discovery of insulin. Although it was admitted that the cause of diabetes was unknown and it was not claimed that insulin removed the cause of diabetes, it was heralded as a cure for diabetes. Nobody today, least of all the physicians, will claim that insulin cures diabetes.
Another example that graphically illustrates the current use of the term cure is that of the search for a cure for cancer. At this writing it is being freely and frequently predicted, both in this country and in Europe, that a cure for cancer will be found within two years. Similar predictions have been made at various times during the last 45 years, but have always failed of realization. The researchers who are seeking a cure for cancer are not studying cancer from the standpoint of cause and effect and it is not predicted that the cause of cancer will be found within the next two years. A cure is sought that will restore health without the necessity of removing or correcting cause.
Among those who are seeking for a cure for cancer is a large body of researchers who expect to find the cure in chemotherapy (drugs). It is hoped to discover a cytotoxic drug that will destroy the cancerous growth without destroying normal tissue. All drugs are cytotoxic, which means that they are toxic to cells; but certain drugs have been set aside especially for this classification. It should be noted in this respect that surgery, x-ray and radium have all three been employed to destroy cancerous cells and that the destruction of such cells has failed to remedy cancer. Cytotoxic drugs suffer the same limiting factor as does radiation therapy in their inherent capacity for causing serious injury to normal as well as to malignant cells. Also, like radiation, cytotoxic chemicals do not remove the cause of cancer.
With all the boasting about the progress they are making in their cancer research, physicians and their allies in the research laboratories have disappointed the world. They have spent much money; they have devoted a great amount of time; they have sacrificed numerous animals and humans; but cancer is steadily increasing in incidence, while the cancer death rate continues to rise. That something more than the poisoning of cancer cells is needed to solve the cancer problem becomes evident when it is noted that cancer of the lungs is increasing, both among dogs and among the animals in the zoological gardens of our larger cities. This strongly indicates that there is something radically wrong in the modern civilized environment of both man and domestic animals which tends to the development of malignancies and which must be corrected or removed before human health can be markedly improved. To seek to cure the effects of such a widespread environmental evil by poisoning cancer cells is an absurd practice.
World-wide and for a long time intensive research has been carried on in the effort to find cures for everything from colds to cancer. What good has all of this research done? It should have convinced the discerning that scientists and physicians cannot find the cure for disease. The consistent failure of all the much-vaunted cures, from Hippocrates to the present, should convince the intelligent person that there are no cures--that curing disease is a delusion. Healing techniques are biologic; healing arts are mythologic. Let us leave the efforts to cure disease to the practitioners of the voodoo arts and get down to a serious study of causes and effects.
The foregoing three examples will suffice to illustrate the meaning of the term cure as it is used today. The attempt to restore health in the sick without removing the causes of disease is what is meant by cure. To cure is to give a drug or to perform a rite-mechanical, chemical, surgical or psychological-that will, it is hoped, restore health in spite of the continued operation of the cause of the sickness. The search for cures, which is continuous, is a search for means of restoring the sick to health by the application or administration of something without the necessity of removing the causes that have produced and are maintaining the impairment of health. It is like trying to sober up a drunk man while he continues to drink.
Strange, indeed, almost shocking when first heard, was the Hygienic postulate that "nature has not provided remedies for disease." All the schools of healing had taught the absurd doctrine that God or nature had provided a remedy or a cure for every disease, if only it could be found. So long had this doctrine been taught that the Hygienic postulate became an obstacle to many when they first began a study of Hygiene. Hygienists, holding that disease is the consequence of violated law, asserted that nature has made no provision for misconduct, except in the consequent pain and misery to force the cessation of the misconduct. Nature, they said, has not provided remedies to cure you of the poisons or impurities that you may take into your body. You simply have to take the consequences and battle it out yourself.
Lecturing before his classes in the Hygeo-Therapeutic College, Trall said: "We can conceive of nothing more absurd," than the "doctrine that nature or Providence has provided some remedy for every disease," which "has been believed for ages." Holding that diseases are consequences of violations of the laws of being, it was logically thought absurd to think that nature has provided consequences and then provided remedies to do away with the consequences. This, said Trall, "would be such a self-stultification, as no human legislation has ever been guilty of." Can any person or any remedy "interpose between cause and effect? . . . Can he or it prevent consequences when cause is applied?" Does nature bribe us to violate her laws by promises of absolution?
The absurdity of the old and prevailing idea may be seen if we observe the action of sticking our finger into a fire. We are burned by this very act, not because of it, but by it. The consequence is inherent in the act. We are burned, not later, but the very instant we stick our finger in the fire. There is no time lapse between the act and the consequence. The consequence is concurrent with the act. To put this into a sentence, the consequence is inherent in and concurrent with the action. There is neither time nor space to interpose between cause and effect.
Applying this same principle to the use of the materials of Hygiene, Trall wrote: "Normal or Hygienic agencies may be used constructively--to sustain the vital structures, or remedially to remove the causes of disease. But their remedial employment belongs to the suggestion of instinct or reason.
"If nature had provided calomel, antimony, strychnine, alcohol, ipecac, jalap, cod-liver oil, and two thousand other drugs, or even air, water, exercise, etc., as remedies to obviate the consequences of our intemperance, gluttony and other disease-producing habits, she should, to be consistent, have also provided remedies for broken bones, dislocated joints, spinal curvatures, warts, cancers, contusions, lacerations, burns, scalds and, indeed, 'all the ills that flesh is heir to.' But no one pretends that surgical remedies are provided by nature, or are to be found anywhere except in human ingenuity."
One of the most essential things that we need to accomplish today to further the dissemination of the principles of Hygiene and the consequent promotion of human health is to dispel the still prevalent superstition that somewhere in nature there are remedies for all maladies, of whatever form, which possess the power to cure disease. This lingering faith of the people in the curative power of nostrums, or acts to be performed, or some extraneous element somewhere in the universe, is the primary cause of man's slavery to drug medication and the consequent evils which must necessarily follow.
Drugs and treatments are administered and patients get well. The assumption has always been that the drugs and treatment restored health--cured the disease. So long as all patients were drugged, it may have seemed logical to assume that drugs accounted for recovery; but once other means of caring for the sick were employed, it soon became evident that there must be some other way to account for recovery. If the sick pray and get well, if they carry a horse chestnut in the pocket and get well, if they are massaged and get well, if they bathe and get well, if they do nothing and get well, if almost anything, from incantations and prayers to the most violent processes of cure, seems to restore health, what is really responsible for recovery? If we take the broader view of the matter the fact becomes obvious that either there is curative power in everything or the real healing power resides in something other than the means of cure. The Hygienic answer to our question is this: all healing processes that occur in the living body are biological in character and belong to the organism; they are not the work of drugs nor of treatments. The healing power resides in the body and is one of the cardinal functions of the living organism.
Millions of cures have been discovered during the past nearly 3,000 years and a number of them have enjoyed a lengthy vogue, but none of them have proved truly successful. All of the cures meet their waterloo. None of them remain cures indefinitely, so that they have passed in a long and melancholy succession to that Limbo reserved for the cures that pass in the night. In modern times, with greater facilities for discovering cures and better means of testing them and checking their hoped-for effectiveness, the cures come and go like fashions in women's hats. Great numbers of them last no longer than is required to get the initial announcement of their discovery into the public press. Others enjoy a few months of hope and expectation, then, like the skyrocket that thought it was a shooting star as it ascended and came down only to find that it was a burnt stick, they cease to be objects of awe. All of them, those that last the longest being the worst offenders in this respect, leave an aftermath of injury and death behind as they pass. Think, for example, of the injury and death that resulted from the transient lighting up of the horizon that the sulfonamides occasioned, only to be followed by a more brilliant light, with a greater number of deaths and injuries from penicillin.
The antibiotics are no more popular today, they are credited with no greater achievements and are not supposed to be effective in a greater number of diseases, than were such drugs as mercury, quinine, alcohol and opium in the past. Blood transfusion is no more popular today than blood letting 100 years ago. Hormone injections have simply supplanted the use of the excreta of man and animals. There was a time when powdered mice cured whooping cough; today a vaccine (allergin) made from the sweepings from city streets prevents hay fever. The first was a superstitious practice; the second is scientific. The intelligent layman will have great difficulty in distinguishing between superstition and science in this instance.
One studies the mortuary tables with the vague feeling that physicians are far from saving all of their patients. In spite of their boasted science and their loud trumpetings about their progress, the health of our people continues to deteriorate and the army of incurables grows by leaps and bounds. If we think for a while upon the multitudinous ways and means that have been conjured up to cure disease, we are bound to conclude that there must be something wrong somewhere. Certainly all of these means cannot be right; all the conflicting principles that have been advanced cannot be right. The persistent failure of all the cures would seem to demonstrate the correctness of this conclusion. Seldom in all history has a doubtful end ever been pursued with a more obsessed devotion and less appropriate techniques.
The continuous search for new and more effective cures signifies the lack of valid underlying principles to guide the physician in his care of his patient. Under the guise of research, the search for cures is carried on unceasingly and has evolved into a giant international industry which must pay dividends even if it does not produce bonified cures.
The conviction is growing in the minds of pharmaceutical researchers that they have about reached the limits of possibilities in finding new drugs. A writer in the Evening Standard (London), February 10, 1967, in an article headed, "The World of Science looks at the Drug Industry," says: "The hunt for new drugs goes on. But the discovery rate is slackening--primarily because all the obvious substances have been looked at at least once." This writer then informs us that Britain's pharmaceutical industry "is adjusting its research effort to place more emphasis on learning how existing drugs work in the body. In particular, it is looking at what is happening inside the cell . . ." Having nearly exhausted the possible sources of cures, they are returning once again to the effort to discover the so-called modus operandi of their poisons. It is probable that few drugs ever get inside the cell; it is certain that if they do havoc is the result.
Herbert Spencer once made the remark that mankind never tries the right remedy until it has exhausted every possible wrong one. If the forces of medicine seem to have tried about every possible wrong remedy, may we hope that they will now turn their attention to the right one?
How often do we hear people declare that: "I know that if I had not taken this medicine, I would not have lived." Yet we know well that they do not know anything of the kind. They but give expression to their ignorance and credulity. The poet was more right when he said:
"Nature rights the injuries done her;
Drugs and doctors get the honor."
So-called medicine or the so-called art of healing has grown out of the almost universal state of disease, suffering and premature death. If man lived in a state of health, he would have no cause to develop an art of healing. But ever since he departed from the simple requirements of nature, he has been suffering and searching for means of relief and supporting an army of disease treaters who have endeavored to cure disease while completely ignoring its cause. The schools of so-called healing have carried men farther and still farther from the truth, until now it is a serious question, whether the so-called art of healing as practiced in so-called civilized countries is not a greater cause of disease and premature death than all the other violations of natural law combined.
Every thinking man should be able to see how absurd and unnatural are the modes of medication. Yet they are not more absurd and unnatural than the means which we employ to get sick in the first place. The greatest absurdity would seem to be that of trying to remedy one absurdity by another. Our modes of treatment are of a piece with our general habits and if it be asked how learned and scientific men have pursued and taught such a course of practice, it may also be asked with equal justice how the learned and scientific have partaken so largely of all the other errors and absurdities of human life.
The simple instincts and sound sense of mankind have long revolted at the most glaring absurdities of medical practice. In the days of universal bleeding, there was natural and well-founded horror of shedding blood in disease, just as there was a repugnance to mercury, quinine and other drugs which were so commonly used. In spite of this natural abhorrence of such practices, medical men have continued to administer not only mineral drugs, but the scarcely less irremediable poisons of the vegetable kingdom. At all times the prevailing system of medical practice has been one of weakening by blood letting, torturing by blisters, noxious cauteries, and poisoning by a whole materia medica of paralyzers, convulsives, emetics, delirifacients, cathartics, anodynes, alteratives, sedatives and stimulants, not one of which can be taken into the human system at any time in any quantity without injury to its organization.
The results of the prevailing modes of medical practice always have been and are what we might reasonably expect from such destructive and anti-natural processes. We see them in saturnined forms and shallow faces, in the common lack of development and beauty, in falling hair and rotting teeth, in failing sight and hearing, in the prevalent digestive disorders, hysteria and hypochondria, in racking arthritis and tuberculosis, in painful and perilous childbirths, in uterine diseases, in diseases of the glands and bones and in the whole catalogue of chronic diseases which are mainly the diseases of medication and, finally, we see them in the death rate that cuts short human life and fills our whole world with mourning. We appeal to the common sense of intelligent people, whether chronic disease and premature death and the medication by the virulent poisons contained in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, combined with reckless waste of vitality in bleeding and purgation, did not stand to each other in the relation of cause and effect.
It seems probable that had there been no physicians to whom the people could have looked for cures, they would have done their own thinking and would have long ago worked out their problems. Curing and cures stand in the way of health and the healthful way of life and the rule--"that which will make you sick if you are well will make you well if you are sick"--would be recognized as the stupendous fallacy that it is, did the belief in cures not stand in the way.
But physicians cannot afford to admit that their drugs are without constructive value. Were medical men to admit that there is no such thing as a cure, pandemonium would break loose; medical superstitions would be seen for the fallacies that they are and medical investments would lose their value. Wall Street would go fishing; the drug shops would close their doors; the patent medicine vendors would cease barking their wares; vivisection would come to a sudden end and medical research would be cast into the bottomless pit.