This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
While medical opinion is largely favorable to the idea that germs are disease-building, I should say that even those germs denominated infectious are not autonomous--individual--specific and self-acting, but by nature are convertible allies. When conditions are favorable to health, they add to the body's power of resistance; but when disease-producing influences--influences that lower the body's self-protecting energies--are in the ascendency, then they become allies to health's foes.
It appears reasonable that as germs are omnipresent, they, like the excretory products of the body, are allies for health, when limited to a health-standard percentage; but when that percentage is exceeded, these quondam friends become allies of disease-producing influences.
The treatment of disease, since germs have been recognized as the cause, parallels the treatment given when the profession was pruning itself on being conservative, yet wisely selective from the maze of theories advanced in the past hundred or more years. Perhaps it will be well to name a few theories that have been chaotically mixed in the medical mind previous to the germ theory:
Empiricism (experimental treatment), which is denounced as quacking, has always been handy for all grades of physicians to fall back on.
Humoral pathology--all diseases come from derangement of the fluids of the body.
Symptomatology (treating symptoms)--a form of empiricism.
Phlebotomy (blood-letting)--one of the most popular theories previous to the germ theory.
Depleting system--blood-letting, calomel, and opium practice.
The various theories of inflammation.
Organotherapy--organ treatment; the treatment of diseases by the administration of animal organs, or extracts prepared from them. This treatment has existed from ancient times, the method as now practiced being of recent origin.
Hundreds of other theories might be cited, but what is the use? The popular treatment of disease, it matters not what has been the theory of cause, has always been the same; namely, ignoring the power of the body and mind to get well and stay well, when given a chance.
For the main part of all treatment, the medical man has believed it to be his duty to knock down and drag out. Indeed, he has appeared to believe that the more vandalism he practiced on the human body, the better for the victims of disease.
Just before my debut in the profession--in my father's day--the most popular remedy was blood-letting. When my day dawned, it was the physician's duty, according to the then dominant school, to purge, sweat, micturate, and salivate heroically.
Every treatment was heroically carried out. All the natural tendencies of the body to react and throw off disease were ignored, and a physician who would fold his arms and give nature a chance was a fiend, quack, a being to get rid of for the good of the people.
Even today the majority of physicians at the bedside will say of my suggestions--my heroic methods of let-alone treatment: "Such trifling, ineffectual methods may do in a case where there is nothing the matter, but in such cases as this (typhoid fever, pneumonia, appendicitis, or whatever the disease may be) it would be criminal to stand by and do nothing. What are physicians for? If their function is to do nothing, it is time to close medical schools." Indeed, I agree that, if the physician's function must be that of a disease-builder, and the function of the surgeon, two-thirds of the time, that of a vandal, it is time to close all medical schools.
Old methods are extensively carried out all over the world. Germs, serums, and vaccines are the slogans of medical men today; but many drugs are in constant use: quinine for malaria; mercury, iodine of potash, and "606"--the old salvarsan--and neo-salvarsan, and many times neo(new) salvarsan, the great twentieth-century remedy for syphilis which out-specifics all other specifics in "curing" syphilis; then opium and morphine are still working over-time for pain; and when the opiates are not used, the coaltar heart-paralyzers are used-to the death in many cases.
There is a great deal of perfunctory talk, on the part of medical men, about not believing in drugs, and of much believing in diet. But it is a trick of the trade; it is that old, professional, stock-in-trade buncombe that is often used to cover ignorance. If they could not prescribe drugs, and were required to make an effective diet prescription, they would be out of a job.