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Palliation

CHAPTER XXXV

   Medically, things were never worse for the world. Discussing arthritis, a television commercial says: "There is no cure, but there is anacin . . . " It was then explained how anacin provides temporary relief from symptoms. This was an advertisement for a patent medicine, television having supplanted the newspapers and billboards as channels through which to purvey such products; but the advertising follows the approved medical line--there is no cure, but we can give you relief. "Palliate the symptoms," "tickle the senses"--this is the rule of practice. Causes are systematically and consistently ignored.

   Drugging to relieve symptoms--to relieve a headache, to relieve flatulence, to relieve constipation, to reduce fever, to check a cough, to allay nervousness, etc.--is the common practice. The cause of the headache or of the constipation is completely ignored, both by the patient and his physician. Wine, for example, may "relieve" a sense of flatness and inertness by the momentary glow and fillip of excitement; but the "relief" thus occasioned is "like the heat of a fire of thorns." There is constant inducement to repeat and increase the "remedy." Thus, drug addiction becomes one of the most commonplace facts of modern life.

   Medicine is a system of spectacular palliation. A man is in pain. Something must be done. He demands relief and he is determined that the physician's drug and not his own natural powers shall provide the relief. He takes aspirin upon the advice of his physician and while this provides a temporary respite from pain, it causes irritation of the stomach with hemorrhage; or he prescribes a "pain reliever" containing phenacetin, which may provide a few minutes respite from distress, but damages his kidneys. Mankind pays a fearful price for its drug-provided relief.

   Basically, there are two ways to handle the sick. These are: (1) remove the causes of the disease; and (2) treat the symptoms with a view to palliating them. The drug system is devoted to palliating symptoms; it does not seek to remove cause. It administers an aspirin, for instance, in headache and ignores the cause of the ache. The patient does not get well of the headache, but does suffer from the drug and does develop a drug habit. Drugging is not the answer to a single one of the many problems presented by human suffering.

   Another case in point is the treatment of peptic ulcers, when these are treated with the diets commonly prescribed and the drugs commonly used. It has come to light that scurvy is a frequent result of such treatment. But a few years have elapsed since Donald Berkowitz, M.D., warned that "milk and antacids, the mainstays of therapy for peptic ulcers, may lead to metabolic alterations potentially more serious than the primary disease being treated." He continued by showing that such treatments may produce many changes in the body of the patient, including the evolution of gout. Naming as a new disease pattern what he called the milk-alky syndrome, he called upon the medical profession to realize the "necessity of re-evaluating and re-appraising these therapeutic concepts in the light of newer findings and beliefs, with the hope that these undesirable side-effects of the medical treatment of peptic ulcer be prevented."

   For years we have warned that the diets fed in peptic ulcer are deficient or inadequate and tend to the production of deficiency disease. Now, Berkowitz adds to this the fact that the alkalies given for the purpose of palliating the hyperacidity tend to upset the acid-alkali balance of the body and, if continued, lead to the development of alkalosis. How much safer, more convenient, more effective and more sane is the fast followed by a Hygienic program of care and feeding!

   Palliation deals with symptoms only. It seeks to deaden pain or relieve discomfort in the shortest possible time and do this with any means at its command. This kind of treatment must always carry the stigma of callous evasion of the necessity to remove the cause of the suffering before health can be restored. Such cures as aspirin for headache, morphine for pain, barbiturates for sleeplessness, Miltown for emotional disturbance, digitalis for the heart, quinine for malaria, mercury or arsenic or penicillin for "syphilis," collapsing the lung for tuberculosis, surgical removal of organs or parts of organs to cure disease, the cause of which is unknown, fail to restore health. This curing program amounts to a smothering of all of man's discomforts with palliation, continuing to palliate so long as it seems to be effective--at the same time, trying to make the sucker like it and continue to pay for it.

   How long is it going to take us to distinguish between spectacular palliation and getting down to basic causes and removing these? Any fool can take an aspirin for a headache, but it requires intelligence to ferret out the cause of the headache and remove it. Any ignoramus can trim a corn; it requires more intelligence than most people seem to possess to get a properly fitting shoe. The land is overflowing with people who take an antacid after every meal, but few try to find and remove the cause of their almost perpetual gastric distress. How few correct their mode of eating so that they may enjoy gastric comfort!

   Let us take the man whose gastric acidity is so intolerable that he keeps taking alkalies with which to neutralize it--it is never suggested that he remove the cause of the hyperacidity. His meals may well be described as a "heterogeneous comminglement of compounded contrarieties." No matter how much his stomach protests and cries out in pain and sourness, he will continue to eat indigestible mixtures and palliate his symptoms with drugs.

   What a depressing prospect lies before the sick who devote most of their time to palliating and suppressing their symptoms. They finally end within the ever-narrowing confines of the vicious circle of symptoms grown to complexity from very simple beginnings. The suppressing, depressing, stimulating, and enervating effects of drugs are not health building under any circumstances of life. When a drug is taken to silence pain, we but defy the warnings of nature. Instead of obeying the admonition that is pain, we slay the messenger boy and pretend that no warning has been given. To remove an organ and ignore the cause of its impairment is to fly in the face of nature.

   There is no recovery where cause is not removed. The practitioner who putters with palliatives and treats effects and ignores causes is a pretender, a charlatan. The man who cuts out affected parts of organs and permits cause to continue until it destroys the patient is a criminal.

   Drugs and manipulations, heat and cold, electricity and super-sound, prayer and psychological soothing syrups may palliate for a time; but there must inevitably come a time when these fail. There is but one genuine road back to good health and this is a radical about face in the way of life. If disease is the result of gluttony, there can be no restoration of health until the overeating is discontinued. If tobacco is the cause of suffering, nothing short of giving up tobacco will enable the body to return to a state of health. If alcohol is the cause of discomfort, only sobriety will enable the sufferer to evolve into a state of good health. Whatever the habit or habits that are impairing health, they must be discontinued and their places taken by constructive habits of life.

   Just so long as our pleasure-crazed and self-indulgent people can be made to believe that disease is something apart from their daily life--germs or viruses or something over which they have no control--they will refuse to attempt to govern their frenzies, but will continue to wreck their health and life and, when they suffer, they will stupidly resort to palliatives and to surgical removal of affected tissues. The world is filled with means and methods of palliating symptoms and discomforts, but there is only one sure road to good health and this is the removal of the causes that impair health.

   Sedatives and anodynes check elimination; to continue to administer these substances is to continue to check elimination. This is but one of the reasons that drugging prolongs the illness of the patient, where it does not kill outright. A mode of care that seeks merely to palliate the symptoms, the headache for example, does not make sense.

   We are unwilling to bear the pain, to suffer the discomfort, to wait patiently upon the processes of life, while these correct the situation; instead, we reach for a pain killer, a tranquilizer, a cathartic, an anti-pyretic, or some other poison with which to smother the discomforts and add to our troubles. We should know that sedation is not rest; hypnosis is not sleep; stimulation is not vigor; tranquilization is not tranquility. An anodyne that smothers the sensation of pain does not produce a sensation of pleasure or euphoria. Drugs but feebly imitate; they do not duplicate the normal conditions of life. Harmless substances do not "relieve" pain.

   All drug treatment is directed at palliation; but fighting the palliating schemes of the world, as these are exploited by commercialism, is a difficult and endless task. If the effects of wrong but "pleasurable" habits of life can be cured or if we can be immunized against them, why not have a "good time" and be immunized and cured? It is all too much like the electrotherapy that is employed in the effort to cure certain types of crime, which has proved to be a failure. It kills the patient but does not prevent the recurrence of crime.

   To think that we can avoid suffering by prayer, kill it with drugs, cut it out with a knife, deny its existence with Christian Science, annihilate it with metaphysical soothing syrups or banish it with the magic of the shaman, while its cause is ignored, is not an intelligent way to view the problems of health and disease.

   A man is in the habit of eating soup and salmon, oil and vinegar, ham and eggs, roast pig, all sorts of poultry, a half dozen incomprehensible French dishes and many more unmentionable American horrors, and then has the audacity to complain of being ill, as if it were possible for him to be anything else. When such eating produces discomfort and distress, he refuses to give up his disease-building eating practices, but wants a pill to provide him with relief. He has been taught to seek for relief rather than to remove causes; he has been conditioned to expect relief; he has been told that cause is unknown. Taking drugs to relieve the distress caused by wrong eating habits is like putting a pain killer on a painful heel instead of removing the tack that is causing the pain.

   Get the sick man out of the false position he is in and get him into one that is in accord with nature and keep him there and he will become comfortable and remain so. This is not palliation, but a removal of cause. Sometimes all we can do is to stand in,the way between the patient and those miscellaneous ministers of drug substances which are most mischievous in their effects. Nothing they can have gleaned from the highways and byways of folly and fatuity can be more mischievous than the deadly prescriptions of their physicians, and every additional poison, is of course, an additional evil. Palliating practices, instead of removing cause, add to the cause, the additions often being more destructive than the original causes of suffering.

   By habitual violations of the laws of life, by repeated indiscretions in his ways of living, a man becomes ill. His digestion is impaired, hence his nutrition suffers. He becomes emaciated. His elimination is checked and he becomes toxemic. Life becomes burdensome and he desires and seeks relief from his suffering. He consults a physician with full confidence that the gentleman of science will understand his malady and will have a remedy for it. He commences a course of drugging, receiving no benefit, but on the contrary, gradually failing. He tries another physician or another remedy, but with no better results. This process continues indefinitely; but no changes are made in his way of life, no causes are corrected, no violations of natural law are discontinued--hence no recovery is possible. Perhaps at this stage he begins to do a little thinking for himself. He searches for other means of recovery. He tries chiropractic, Christian Science, massage and similar modes of cure. These fail him. He tries exercise, concluding that he has been too sedentary. He walks; he does setting-up exercises; he exhausts himself--but he refuses to abandon his darling vices. His low state, caused by his wrong living and greatly aggravated by drugging, cannot endure so much exercise--he is hurt more than helped by the activity.

   He takes to bathing--taking hot baths, cold baths, steam baths, plunges and rolls in the waters of the seaside and rolls and plunges for hours to wash away his disease. He basks in the sun on the beach, exposing his nearly nude body to the sun for hours. His skin becomes as black as that of the Ethiopians, his nerves lose power from the excess, and still he continues to go down in health. He tries diets. Juice diets, grape diets, dry diets, high protein diets, salt-free diets, vitamin pills--he runs the gamut of the trick diets; but the results are not satisfactory. He still has a most important lesson to learn but he is unwilling to learn.

   He tries one thing after another, still persisting in his indiscreet living, still believing that somewhere (if he can only find it) there is a healing agent which will cure his malady and will do so without requiring him to cease his violations of the laws of life.

   Whoever performs an act or takes a drug as a curative element, believing the "power to cure" resides in the act performed or in the drug taken, will always injure himself thereby. Whoever acts upon wrong assumptions in any matter, cannot end well. And whoever possesses faith in "curative elements" will not adopt a Hygienic mode of living.

   All teachers of Hygiene should, not only by teaching the true nature of disease and its true causes, but by the expressions employed, do all they can to banish faith in drugs and treatments as possessing any curing power. Nothing should be called a curative agent simply because nature requires it to sustain life at all times and, consequently, needs it when sick.

   He who demands a correction of the ways of life as the one and only means of securing a restoration of health will not be patronized by the millions who still believe that among the myriads of so-called cures there is palliation for them and who are content with mere palliation. There is a mighty army of invalids today who cannot get well in spite of their travels, their patronage of the great specialists and their submission to operations, but they are still unwilling to make a few simple corrections in their ways of living in the interest of better health.

   When one of these sufferers does condescend to break away from the cures of science and to undertake a wholly new and, to him, untried way back to health, he is often in a desperate condition. Much organic change has occurred so that nothing short of the creation of a new organ can restore full health. We do not expect such sufferers to recover full health, but we do witness some remarkable improvements in great numbers of these desperate cases. In the less damaged we see great numbers of full recoveries.

   It is often in these desperate cases that we witness the most remarkable effects of the fast. To withhold food provides relief from pain and discomfort, enables tired and damaged organs to rest and repair themselves, gives the enervated organism an opportunity to excrete its accumulated load of waste and exotic poisons and to, in great measure, rejuvenate itself. Even in cases where full recovery is no longer possible, comfort may be restored and by teaching them how to eat and live, life may be prolonged for months and even years.

   People must be brought to a full realization of the fact that, when ill, all the elements they require (all the elements they can use) are those that are necessary to sustain life in a state of full health and that these must be supplied in the manner that nature requires under the circumstances. This done, they must wait upon the orderly and lawful processes of life to restore health.

   To correctly care for any patient it is first necessary to understand the causes that have produced and are maintaining his trouble. We cannot be satisfied when we have found the pathology in the patient's body--when we have found an enlarged tonsil or an enlarged prostate, an ulcer of the stomach, a stone in the kidney or in the gall bladder, a fibroid tumor or inflammation in the colon. These are only effects and they throw no light on cause. To operate, as is usually advised and carried out, is not to remove causes but effects. The operation may temporarily palliate symptoms, but the unremoved causes produce another crop of effects and the patient has "other diseases." Most surgery, like all drugging, is purely palliative.

   It is not enough to correctly diagnose a disease. The most essential thing in restoring health to the sick is the removal of the cause of the illness and providing the normal factors of health. Diagnosis leads to the resort to specific cures and symptomatic treatment which are often worse on the patient that the original causes of the disease. When diagnostic skill is meager, mistakes in diagnosis are the rule. If specific treatment is required and the mistake is made in diagnosis, it is inevitable that the wrong treatment shall be used. If cause is found, its removal is never a mistake, whether the diagnosis is correct or not.

   Statistics of recoveries from disease and of death in disease are based on diagnosis. When mistakes are made in diagnosis, the statistics giving the causes of death (which are based upon these mistaken diagnoses) are thoroughly unreliable. When diseases have not been differentiated, the statistics for a so-called disease include two or more diseases. A classic example is that of smallpox. Prior to Sydenham, smallpox had not been differentiated from chickenpox, scarlet fever and other eruptive diseases--hence all estimates of the incidence of smallpox prior to that time are hopelessly impossible.

   It is correct to say that the suffering of the sick is in keeping with incorrigibility. Cause and effect are well balanced; they are equal to each other. Any effort to force a condition of comfort in spite of incorrigibility must ultimately end in disaster. Somehow it is difficult to whip "rebellious organs" into the traces. They persist in their faulty secreting and lagging functions in spite of whip and spur. The first thing the whippers know the whilom possessors of the contumacious organs are in the land where livers "cease from throbbing" and stomachs are "at rest."

   The layman has never studied the foundations of medical practice. He has never studied the actions of the human system in casting out toxins. He has unconsciously imbibed a belief in the curative properties of drugs and from his earliest infancy he has been told that disease must in some way or other be bled, purged, puked, sweated, blistered or poisoned out of the body.

   The testimony of history is that man has long been sick, has long taken the advice and swallowed the remedies of the medical profession and has grown sicker. This is a story of failure. Since men have come into a knowledge of Hygiene and have partially and imperfectly applied it to their lives, they have grown steadily better. How do medical men account for this improvement? We challenge them to do it on any hypothesis that does not expose the absurdity of their own practices. For this change in the lives of men there is a cause and we ask medical men to account for it on grounds that are satisfactory to themselves so that their confidence in their drugs does not receive a rude shock.

   Is it not strange that a large class of patients who have had extensive and varied experience among physicians, as well as among the newer schools of so-called healing, with little or no benefit, should get well under Hygienic care, but without any help from Hygiene? It just so happens, according to medical men, that these patients, although perhaps repeatedly told that they are "incurable," had reached the place where they were going to get well anyway at the time they abandoned the destructive and enervating palliatives of the schools of healing and resorted to Hygiene. Their recovery under Hygienic care is, therefore, a mere coincidence. As a rule, they are desperate cases to deal withmostly cases of long standing, with whom all the prevailing methods and systems of cure have failed. They come to Hygiene as a forlorn last hope. With such cases to deal with, marked improvement takes place in nearly all cases, a very large percentage are restored to excellent health and the mortality under Hygienic care is very low. Coincidences are the most common things of existence, but coincidence is not the explanation in this case.

 


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