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"Is it really true that you can cure disease without the use of medicines?" asked a doting old lady of a Hygienic practitioner. The Hygienic answer to this question is that diseases should not be cured. Being remedial processes, they are to be left alone; only their causes should receive attention. When cause is removed, the disease ceases of itself.
It is a popular error that what is called the cure of disease is equivalent to or includes the recovery of health--an error which is fraught with disastrous consequences to millions. There is a vast, a radical difference between treating or curing disease and intelligently caring for a sick person. Thousands of persons are daily engaged in the treatment of disease and uncounted ponderous tomes have been written on the subject, while the sick multiply in a corresponding ratio. Many are the ways and varying the means, requiring but little skill and less experience, to cure disease; but the obvious fact is that these ways and means fail and have to be discarded for new ones. Treating disease is empirical, experimental and haphazard.
It would seem that the time has arrived when the care of sick people should engage intelligent attention. And there is a distinction with a difference--a vast difference between treating and curing disease and caring for a sick person and restoring him to health. To guide a sick person back to good health requires wisdom, attention and skill, if not learning, all exercised within a straight and narrow way. Such a plan is established upon a basis of demonstrated principle, having definite, settled and tried principles to guide us in the use of all its measures. These measures are not empirical; they are not experimental; they are not haphazard; nor do haphazard results follow their application. Every particular process must conform to the principles of the system and all results are results of unvarying accuracy.
Our science is but common sense. We cure nobody and make no claim to cures. We leave the work of healing in the capable hands of the living organism. We let people get well where this is possible, not interfering with nor letting anything else interfere with the processes of healing. It should be easy to understand that if recovery ever takes place at all under drug treatment, it should do so in much less time if no drugs are employed.
Writing editorially, July 1862, Trall said: "There is no curative virtue, no healing power in drugs or poisons, nor even in Hygienic agencies, whether applied externally or taken internally. All healing power is inherent in the living organism." Dr. Walter well expressed the Hygienic position when he said that, "unless science is humbug and logic sophistry," water or Graham bread or exercise or rest or other means or conditions applied to the sick do not restore them to health. Hygienic means are not cures. We refute curing power either as belonging to ourselves or to anyone else. We insist that the power to heal belongs exclusively to and to nothing outside the living organism.
By supplying such means and conditions as have normal relations to the living organism in such amounts and degrees as can be used by the vital powers under the circumstances, we can hasten the remedial process. But we should understand that nature has not provided these things as remedies--she has provided them for health. Air, water, food, rest, exercise, etc., may be said to be remedial, although they are not remedies, because the living system uses them in disease as it uses them in health--to build and replenish its structures and maintain the condition of health. Their use in disease is identical with their use in health--they do not serve any other or special function in disease. We do not think that when we open the window and let the sick man have fresh air to breathe, we are thereby curing disease. We are merely supplying one of the regular and ordinary needs of life--water, food, warmth, rest and sleep, exercise, cleanliness and emotional poise. These are not cures; they are not therapies; they are not treatments.
The importance of special applications of Hygienic means to meet special conditions requires further consideration. The man who relies upon Hygienic means in his care of the sick is not restricted to either diet or exercise or rest or fasting, but is permitted to range the whole field of Hygiene and to employ any or all of these as the requirements of the individual case call for. There are very weighty reasons why exercise in particular should be specifically adapted, not only to the needs of the sick, but to those who have a measured degree of health. The same necessity exists for adapting the length of the fast or length of rest or the amount and character of food, etc., to individual requirements.
Whatever may be the reasons that impel one to adopt Hygiene, it is all too likely to be regarded as merely a substitute for the usual forms of medication, or at least, like drugging, to be a plan of reconciling physiological inconsistencies with the desire for health and enjoyment and there may be much talk of their search for food specifics or light specifics, etc., when the failure of the popular methods has driven them to adopt Hygiene. Overlooking the grand fundamental principles that underlie the system of Natural Hygiene, they continue to seek health through some formidable operation performed by some exotic or adventitious something.
In medicine the disease is the primal object of solicitude, an incomprehensible something that must either be neutralized, cast out or outwitted by some professional legerdemain. In Hygiene the plan consists in attending to the health, to all those matters concerned in the production and preservation of the structures and powers of life and to all impairing influences; Hygiene attempts to fulfill nature's needs as seen in the well, graduating them to the altered condition and wants of the sick. The chief agencies or circumstances concerned in the production of living structure and the performance of vital function are oxygen, food, water, warmth, activity, rest and sleep, and sunlight. A modification of these factors of living readily alters the state of the body, whether it is well or sick, abating or intensifying activities as need dictates.
Drugs which, from their chemical relations to living structure, annul, excite or alter the functions of life, are employed by physicians to effect a curative rather than a recuperative work. If the patient recovers; the physician receives the heart-felt benison of grateful patient and family. If the patient dies, it is usual to assume that the Lord took him.
Yes, some people will die under the Hygienic plan of care; but we have known of one or two deaths under drug treatment. Nobody ever claimed that the processes of restoration. are always successful, even under the best of conditions.
Tilden tells us that he practiced medicine and surgery for 25 years, "experimenting, after the first ten years, more or less, with all the systems and cults, and being more and more surprised with the results following little or no medication (drugging)." Then followed a longer period of practice, one that continued to within a few months of his death, when he retired from active practice, which, to quote his own words, consisted of the "simple conservative prescriptions of physical, physiological and mental rest, diet, nursing and psychology." He says of this practice, which was one largely of educating patients out of disease-producing modes of life, that it was "not only satisfying to myself," but to all his patients who could be taught to practice self-control.
He tells us that when his patients recovered under his drugging practices, they and their families and friends would say that he cured them, but that he was aware that he had done nothing of the kind. He did not even know how or why they had recovered. When a patient would die under his care, he says that his conscience would not permit him to tell the family that "all was done for the patient that science could do." He says: "For I knew that I did not cure those who got well and I did not like to acknowledge, even to myself, that I had killed those who died. To be consistent, I soothed my troubled mind by acknowledging to myself and my father, who was a doctor, that those who got well did so in spite of my best endeavors, and those who died might have been helped to die by my strenuous endeavors to save them."
An attitude of mind such as this either drives a man out of practice, as it has thousands of young physicians and a few older ones, or causes him to try to find out what is true and what is not true in the practice of medicine. Tilden says that "to learn, if possible, just how much I had to do with the getting well and dying of my patients, I discarded drugs and other methods of cure, and gave sugar tablets and careful nursing. I felt like a criminal in withholding cures--it was a strenuous ordeal. My success was marvelous. Even my father, an old-time practitioner, marveled at the results, and cautioned me not to go too far."
It is everywhere freely admitted that "there is no cure for the common cold." It is also admitted that "there is no cure for influenza." Indeed, there are so many common diseases for which it is admitted that there is no cure that one begins to wonder how long it will take the world to recognize that the whole concept of cure and curing is false.
Every year millions of people in this country develop colds and practically all of them recover health. The same may be said for the hundreds of thousands of people who yearly develop influenza. Thus, we have two common diseases for which there are no cures; yet those who develop these diseases recover. If the sick recover and are not cured, what happens? If a cure for colds were found, how would it be possible to prove that it is a cure, since cold sufferers get well anyway?
At this point we may ask: are there two processes of recovery? Is there a process of healing carried on by the living organism--is there another process carried out by therapeutic measures? Let us apply this question to pneumonia. It is claimed today that both the sulfonamides and penicillin cure pneumonia; but prior to the introduction of the sulfonamides, it was freely admitted on all sides that there was no cure for pneumonia. In spite of this lack of a cure, most pneumonia patients succeeded in recovering health. Many of the processes of treatment to which pneumonia patients were subjected were manslaughterous, the physician standing by the bedside of his patient and wielding a battle axe. In spite of such manslaughterous therapeutics, most pneumonia patients recovered.
With the abandonment of the old battle axe treatment and its substitution, first by the sulfonamides and, subsequently, by penicillin, a higher percentage of pneumonia cases recovered. This led physicians and the people to believe that the sulfonamides and penicillin cure pneumonia. But if these drugs cure pneumonia, what cured pneumonia cases before they were introduced into medical practice? To repeat our former question: are there two processes of cure? When pneumonia cases recovered health under the old battle axe plan of treatment, were they cured by one process? Now that they recover health under a less lethal plan of care, are they cured by another and different process? Are there two principles, one operating in poisonous substances, the other in the body, both of which result in the same ultimate effect--health?
If pneumonia patients in the majority of instances recovered health when there was no cure for pneumonia, is it not possible that this same process that resulted in recovery in spite of a manslaughterous mode of treatment is also responsible for the recoveries that occur under a less lethal plan of care? Is it not more correct to say that penicillin does not cure more, it only kills fewer? It hardly seems a tenable assumption that there has been a radical change in the process by which health is restored when one is ill. Whether it is a cold, an influenza or a pneumonia, the process of recovery that enables one to regain health when there is no cure would seem to be still in operation after an alleged cure is discovered.
Physicians who have followed their patients to the post-mortem table have long observed that pulmonary tuberculosis of long standing tends to spontaneous recovery. They find the lung lesions had completely healed and the patient died of something else or they find that, although the patient died of tuberculosis, there were many healed lesions in the lungs. It is the common theory that almost everybody has tuberculosis of the lungs at some time in life. This is based on the almost universal finding of healed lesions in the lungs at autopsy. It is stated that thousands of these people had tuberculosis, recovered and never knew that they had the disease. Perhaps they thought they had a persistent cold or something else of a minor nature.
Here is evidence that the infection, when it does occur, is something that the living organism can cope with without outside help. Both the people and their physicians are so accustomed to thinking that no healing can take place without the assistance of a professional man and his bag of tricks that we are surprised to learn that healing can actually occur without the tricks. It may be to the advantage of the disease treaters of all colors and stripes to have the people believe that they recover only as a consequence of the treatments they administer, but the fact is that the public will be better off to understand that all healing is self-healing.
These post-mortem findings demonstrate that tuberculosis evolves into a serious condition in but a relatively small percentage of cases and that even in these formidable cases, man's biological restoratives are capable of effecting a restoration of health. If sometime in the future a cure for tuberculosis were to be discovered, is it possible that the biological process that now restores health in cases of tuberculosis would come to an abrupt end and the tubercular would, thereafter, be forced to depend entirely upon the alleged cure? If the biological restoratives that are resident in the living organism do not cease with the discovery of an alleged cure, how is it ever possible to demonstrate the genuineness of the cures?
Wounds healed, broken bones knit and the sick recovered health for ages before there was a shaman, priest or leech, and mankind survived without the doubtful assistance of these professionals. This proved that man's biological restoratives are fully capable of restoring structural soundness and physiological efficiency to his organism, if they are not frustrated or thwarted by treatments and conditions that obstruct and suppress the healing efforts. Healing is a biological process, not an art. The physician can neither duplicate nor imitate this process. Nor does the Hygienist attempt to duplicate or imitate it.
Hygiene stands up for the wisdom and goodness of the constitution of nature, as displayed in our own organism and its normal relations to its environment. It points out the initial errors of the sick and seeks to influence them in healthful directions. Hygienists alone reveal the great, simple and most sublime of truths--that incorporated in every living organism itself is a great vital recuperative capacity as part and parcel of its very life, identical with and inseparable from its very existence, by which and through which the organism is evolved, its waste recuperated, its injuries repaired, its infirmities removed and its impairments healed. Members of the schools of healing seem not to know anything about this; nobody else seems to believe in it, but dwell in the common darkness of all around them.
In the natural order of things there is no such thing as escaping the consequences of our actions. Hence, Hygiene teaches and insists upon the principle that, before health can be regained, there must be entire conformity with the laws of life. Unlike the curing systems, Hygiene holds out to no person an immunity from the consequences of actions and modes of living that violate or are in conflict with the laws of being. It does not tell the sick that they may continue to live in violation of these laws and still, by some magic potency, recover from the consequences. But it does point to the fact that living organisms are so constructed and endowed as to be able to repair their damages and restore their functions when the violations of biologic law are discontinued.