It has been reported that from the ranks of doctors come the highest rates of suicides and drug dependency of all the occupations in society. Does this mean that doctors are more likely than others to become disillusioned and unhappy, that the career which once promised so much satisfaction at the start turns sour when the promise is not fulfilled? How many doctors, after working so hard to gain their qualifications, come to realize they have become little more than licensed drug pushers for the international drug cartels?

Many such doctors have reacted positively to set things right but usually they are considered eccentrics who are out to spoil a good set-up, and their complaints are ignored. Rejected and derided by their peers, a lot of them write books to get their message out of the barricade surrounding the medical profession, direct to the public. As books like these are written with great dedication and are based on direct observations made through the course of long medical careers, they make the best reading a medical student could get, but of course none are to be found in medical libraries anywhere.

A hundred years ago Dr Emmet Densmore and his wife, also a medical doctor, collaborated to write a book called How Nature Cures. In this book the fallacies surrounding orthodox medicine were exposed, and to support his opinions Dr Densmore quoted some of the prominent physicians of the time who, like the Densmores, had awakened to the fact that orthodox medicine for the treatment of common diseases was a waste of effort bordering on the farcical. A few of the quotations [Densmore used in How Nature Cures ]were: Professor Alonzo Clark, New York College of Physicians and Surgeons:

"In their zeal to do good, physicians have done much harm. They have hurried thousands to the grave who would have recovered if left to Nature."

John Mason Good, MD FRS:

"The efforts of medicine on the human system are in the highest degree uncertain, except indeed, that they have destroyed more lives than war, pestilence and famine combined."

Dr Eliphalet Kimball:

"There is doctorcraft as well as priestcraft . . . Physicians have slain more than war. An instrument of death in their hands, bleeding, calomel, and other medicines have done more than powder and ball. The public would be infinitely better off without professed physicians. In weak constitutions Nature can be assisted. Good nursing is necessary, and sometimes roots and herbs do good. In strong constitutions medicine is seldom needed in sickness. To a man with a good constitution, and guided by reason in his course of living, sickness would be impossible."

Professor Alexander H. Stevens, New York College of Physicians and Surgeons:

"The older physicians grow, the more skeptical they become of the virtues of medicine, and the more they are disposed to trust to the powers of Nature."

Sir John Forbes:

"Some patients get well with the aid of medicines, some without, and still more in spite of it."

There were a great many other such quotations, the most descriptive of the situation being the one from the great physician and physiologist Professor Francois Magendie, President of the French Academy of Science:

"Let us no longer wonder at the lamentable want of success which marks our practise, when there is scarcely a sound physiological principle among us. I hesitate not to declare, no matter how sorely I should wound our vanity, that so gross is our ignorance of the real nature of the physiological disorder called disease, that it would perhaps be better to do nothing, and resign the complaint into the hands of Nature, than to act as we are frequently compelled to do, without knowing the why and wherefore of our conduct, at the obvious risk of hastening the end of the patient.

Gentlemen, medicine is a great humbug. I know it is called a science. Science indeed! It is nothing like science. Doctors are merely empirics when they are not charlatans. We are as ignorant as men can be. Who knows anything in the world about medicine? Gentlemen, you have done me a great honor to come here to attend my lectures, and I must tell you frankly now, in the beginning, that I know nothing in the world about medicine, and I don't know anybody who does know anything about it . . . I repeat, nobody knows anything about medicine . . .

We are collecting facts in the right spirit, and I dare say, in a century or so, the accumulation of facts may enable our successors to form a medical science. Who can tell me how to cure the headache, or the gout, or disease of the heart? Nobody. Oh, you tell me the doctors cure people. I grant you people are cured, but how are they cured?

Gentlemen, Nature does a great deal, imagination a great deal; doctors--devilishly little when they don't do any harm."

Frank statements, made a hundred years ago. Since then, it is claimed, medicine has indeed become a science--or has it? If Doctor Magendie were alive today and were to inquire "Who can tell me how to cure the headache, or the gout, or the disease of the heart?" he would be forced again to conclude--nobody. Doctors can drug the symptoms of headache, gout, heart disease and most other complaints, but the patients are not cured, and many of them die prematurely as a result of the drugs.