Article #2: Hygiene Vs. the Cures by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
The medical dictionary defines cure to mean: “The course of treatment of any disease, or of a special case. The successful treatment of a disease or wound. A system of treating disease. A medicine effective in treating disease.” Thus do meanings of words change. From the Latin, cura, which is synonymous with our word care, cure was originally applied to the care of the healthy individual, then to the care of the sick; now it is defined as a method or means of treating disease or as a medicine effective in treating a disease. Once it also had the significance of a reinstatement of health in an organism that was recently sick, but even then, in both common and professional acceptance, it had reference to the means whereby this was supposed to be accomplished.
A drug was said to be a “cough cure,” or a cure for constipation, or for some other disease. The present definition that it is “a medicine effective in treating disease” is ambiguous, in that it fails to define what the “medicine” is effective in doing. Few of medicine’s “effective medicines” are claimed to do more than provide a little evanescent and doubtful palliation. Be this as it may, the sick would hardly be said to be cured, however perfect the recovery, without the employment of some drug or treatment. Cure is wrought by some foreign or external aid.
The sick are treated as they are clothed and physicked (drugged) as they are fed, in the confident assurance that, in either case, they are being fitted and burnished for new services. Hence it is that cure has reference to external rather than to an internal recourse. Call it a medicine or a course of treatment, the cure is the work of something outside the living organism, not the result of the body’s own healing work.
Living things alone are subjects of the curative efforts of those who profess to be able to heal and it is the different estimates relatively that are credited to the vital, organic or recuperative forces, and the part that treatment plays, that serves as the basis of the different views entertained of the subject. Apparently most members of the various schools of healing deem that disease is a destructive something that will inevitably consummate its malevolent work unless opposed by some counteracting and neutralizing power, the forces of life being little more than a spectator on the sidelines, until the disease is either vanquished, accepting the victory wrought in their behalf, or the patient dies. There are among these various practitioners, those (relatively few) who award some credit to the processes of life, if these forces are stimulated or goaded by measures capable of exciting or arousing their actions defensively.
Outside the schools of curing, there are those who place no dependence on any other means than those of organic recuperation and reconstruction, or in those all-efficient processes and means that continue the vital or organic changes in the healthy state. These hold that healing is a biological process, as much an activity of life as nutrition, respiration, excretion, etc., and that it requires no goads to action.
All the many schools of curing that have existed in the past and that exist now, with all their many and opposing theories, and their many and conflicting practices, have existed and acted under the assumption that all desirable ends in cases of disease have been and are affected by medical treatment.
Scarcely any reliance has been placed upon the intrinsic vital capacities. At all times the big question in
medical investigations and actions has revolved about the matter of the qualities, quantities and times in
which medicines are useful.
Obviously there has been a mountain of error in all this theorizing and empirical practice. Schools of medicine and modes of treatment have followed each other into oblivion in a melancholy succession, leaving scarcely a trace behind. It has been assumed that what we call symptoms of disease are necessarily and invariably evidences of a destructive process; that a great variety of substances known to be inimical to health, are yet, also, antagonistic to disease; that on special occasions such substances may constitute special vivifying means, differing from those usually necessary, performing on local structures curative acts that differ from the ordinary nutritive and reproductive processes.
Writing in November 1954, George H. Taylor, M.D., said that the Hygienic or Physiological School “endeavors to show that these assumptions are to be taken, if at all, with many qualifications, and that the present state of science fails to warrant, or absolutely repudiates them.” On this occasion he also pointed out that the Hygienic school “seeks to guide those liable to suffer from disease to a true knowledge of themselves, and to the probable causes of their physical miseries,” and finds redemption “in the discipline and correction of faulty and perverted functional habits.”
Taylor said that the Hygienic school abjures entirely the empirical or experimental practices of the curing schools, and refuses to admit, as untrustworthy, the ambiguous evidence in favor of such practices. Admitting that, even with the same data upon which to reason, there would be differences in judgement, he asserted that “life and its invariable phenomena, rather than medicine and its uses, should furnish the proper field of inquiry.” From such a study is to be gained a knowledge of how the living organism behaves under different circumstances; we would learn what life ordinarily does, and how it will act under constraint and compulsion, and what are the proper conditions for its ascendency over the causes of disease.
As he pointed out on the occasion, we can never weigh or measure the vital principle, but we may observe the circumstances that attend its operations, its work, its invariable conditions, its laws, what it does, and that on our understanding of these we must base our actions in reference to it, both in health and in disease. All of this simply means that, whatever may be the essential nature of life, our behavior towards the body, whether well or sick, must be, if it is not to be harmful, consonant with human physiology.
A living organism grows, reproduces and multiplies its parts and, by this repetition extends itself. To do this, it selects from its environment such materials as it has the capacity to make into parts of its own structure, and as promptly rejects and refuses all other substances. These are necessary conditions to the maintenance of its vital integrity. In the one-celled organism, in the higher plant or
animal, wherever we see life, selection and appropriation of food, assimilation and growth, and refusal and rejection are constant actions, and the energy of these actions must gear a constant relation to each other, for the living organism seeks its own welfare in all acts. As the constitution of the living unit is uniform and invariable, it necessarily follows that all external substances must be of three kinds, namely:
- Materials that are identical with or are susceptible to being transformed into the same form as that of the living structure and are related to the organism as nutriment.
- Substances that may be described as indifferent giving rise to no change upon contact, but may serve as a needed medium, for example, water.
- Substances that cannot be transformed into cell substance, but the relation of which, to the vital structure, is one of antagonism, and in varying degrees of intensity, is destructive of the integrity of the vital organism, and are properly classed as poison.
We may properly think of water as belonging, essentially, to the first classification, as it is essential to all vital actions and vital syntheses. Viewing matter in this light, then, all substances with which the living organism comes into contact are either food materials or poisons. The class which we call poisons is very numerous and composed of a number of subdivisions—indeed, this class is almost as various as the number of elements and chemical compounds, after we have subtracted nutriments.
When nonusable substances are brought into contact with the cells, they must be resisted, rejected, expelled. The actions by which these poisons are resisted and expelled have long been mistaken for actions of the poisons. In sober fact, the so-called actions of drugs (poisons) are actions of the living body. These actions are but phases of the primordial activities of the living organism in rejecting and casting off materials that cannot be normally appropriated into living structures.
Animal organisms are made up of parts and each of these parts is composed of lesser elements, each of which has a quasi-independent existence and exercises its own peculiar powers of action, and is capable of its own peculiar affections, hence the application of foreign substances to the general organism, through the circulation, gives rise to local effects in keeping with the characteristics of the parts affected, all of which are disturbances of the normal functions of the various parts, and this tends to impair and degrade and not to elevate the local function.
All this results inevitably from the invariableness that characterizes the constitution of living organisms as much as it does inanimate things. The same constituent elements and the same conditions of warmth, heat, activity, etc., are employed in the composition of each individual of each species, wherever produced or reproduced; the same laws ruling that are observed to rule other individuals. In the whole evolution of an organism and its activities, effects change in relation to changing conditions, but the laws governing these operations never vary.
Because of this invariableness, all attempts to impose materials or conditions upon the organism other than those that normally and naturally belong to it, are met with determined resistance, and can result only in a waste of its formative elements and actuating energies. The constant and orderly development of forms with which the forces of life are connected, and on which the functions and activities of life depend, is thus retarded and even perverted.
The broad page of nature, with its infinite diversity, is but a statement of these principles. Organization, whether we regard it as something apart from the ordinary chemical and physical forms and forces or a special application of physical and chemical forces, is no less subject to fixed principles and invariable laws. Its almost infinite variety of manifestations are expressions of the values of the forces that inhere in particular organisms under special conditions. Matter itself undergoes no change in its intrinsic qualities.
All the importance that attaches to the effort to manage health and recovery by drugs, arises out of a failure to recognize the foregoing principles. They arise out of a mistake in the essential nature of the actions occasioned in the vital organism by the administration of drugs. The very liberality of man’s constitutional endowments makes possible the great number and variety of actions that are and have been mistaken for the actions of “remedies.”
Considering the nature of man, and his many constitutional capabilities, it should be evident that the variations in his health and the multitude of symptoms which occur, arise out of his complexity of structure and function as much as do the many actions that have, been mistaken for drug actions. It is the human organism, and not simple lifeless chemical substances, that is capable of such a wide variety of behavior patterns. Rightly considered, these many capacities for action are evidences of man’s superiority, not of his defect.
Dr. Taylor thought that “the utmost reach of power demands the utmost freedom of its exercise,” and pointed out, in this connection, that, the ends of man’s intellectual existence “could not be attained by confining him to a fixed point of temperature, or locality, and a consequent uniform subsistence.” To meet the requirements of his intellect, man requires a highly complex and plastic organism. The human organism is capable of accommodating itself to a great variety of circumstances, making use, in so doing, of a variety of means of adjustment and adaptation.
Man is possessed of organs and systems of organs that, in their normal functions, act reciprocally to secrete and excrete, adopt and exclude, to the end that physiological equilibrium be maintained. With such marvelous means of adjustment at his command, man evolves no disease, so long as his needs (supplies) are filled and waste is rejected. Only when he has reduced his functioning powers so that waste is incompletely expelled, nutrition is impaired, secretion is checked and vital processes are hampered does he become sick, i.e., his body embarks on an emergency course of liberation and restoration.
If we exclude those “diseases” that result from poisoning by drugs or similar toxic substances taken in from without, disease is the result of impairments or imperfections in the functions of the body which permit the accumulation of endogeneously generated toxin, the imperfection of function growing out of reduced functioning power (enervation) which, in turn, results from the dissipation of the energies of life. This is to say, disease is autogenerated. It is not an attack upon the body by an outside foe, but a consequence of violations of the conditions of a healthy existence.
Since the principles and conditions of vital as well as of chemical actions are fixed and do not change because the organism is sick, it becomes plain that the professionally-induced “medicinal” disease cannot possess the intelligence or power to restore health. Recuperation and recovery are never the results of so-called medicines, but are always the results of the operation of the organic forces and of the conditions that usually maintain health. Health is to be restored, as it is to be preserved, by conforming to the healthful conditions laid down by nature.
This will be met with the assertion that good effects are seen to follow the administration of drugs; we will even be assured that drugs can and often do save life. The record of experience will be appealed to, to substantiate this position. Case histories and case records will be paraded in evidence. Such “evidence” takes no account of the self-healing powers and activities of the organism and, at the same time, assumes that the drug effect is additional to that of the healing work of the sick body. True, there is additional action—the activity needed to resist and expel the drug. The vital actions are changed, not helped.
Any benefit accruing to health must come, either through the ordinary physiological processes or through some temporary, even, perhaps dramatic modification of these to meet special occasions, and these can work only with the normal things of life: food instead of poison, rest instead of stimulation, sleep instead of narcosis, air instead of drug fumes, warmth instead of mustard plasters, etc., etc.
Those substances that the living structure cannot, appropriate and use, but must reject in a state of health are equally nonusable and must be rejected in a state of disease when the powers of life are lowered.
Drugs can only further impair and depress vital powers. Drugs morbidly occasion the diversion of the very functions and processes upon which the body must rely for purgation and healing. This may so devitalize the body that it must suspend its healing efforts—symptoms are suppressed .
Finally, it must be observed that, in treating the sick with drugs, no lesson is taught, no discipline is enforced, and no condition is instituted that is of any value in health or in a subsequent state of illness. The intellect of the patient is left a blank, his body a scene of devastation. The patient does not know why he was sick, nor how he recovered, and he does not know how to avoid becoming sick again.
Reprinted from Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review,