Medical men long held and many do yet seem to hold that nature has provided remedies for disease, that there is a "law of cure." To provide remedies, instead of requiring obedience, would be to break the laws that exist. A "law of cure" would be in opposition to other laws. Broken law provides penalties. Obedience to physiological law is the condition (not the remedy) for recovery from penalties. All penalties are limited; hence, recovery becomes possible if obedience is returned to. The millions who live on the earth today who are convinced that they must have drugs with which to dose themselves continually to keep the machinery of life operating, supported in this as they are by their medical advisors, are greatly deluded. Not one of them could but discontinue this false and destructive dosage at once with distinct advantage. We know the difficulty of convincing them of this truth, but this in no wise invalidates the fact.
No argument about the Deity having provided these things for man's use can excuse us from the results of the abuses which we deliberately or ignorantly heap upon our long-suffering body. Such an argument is specious, false, unscientific and absurd. It is not sustained by theory nor by results, neither by logic or analogy nor by experiment or experience. No argument about the necessity of drug taking has any basis in any sound principle. There is no such necessity. This dreadful delusion of the people is an insult to intelligence and a libel of nature. The very way in which organisms are made and organized upsets at once this foul and murderous doctrine. But little investigation should make this clear to everyone.
It has long been held that somewhere in nature there is a cure for every disease, if only this can be found. In the search for cures, the vegetable, mineral and animal kingdoms have been ransacked for 2,500 years and yet no cures have been forthcoming. Both in the medical profession and outside the medical profession the belief continues to be held that the vegetable kingdom, especially those portions of it that are laden with alkaloids and glycosides, contains cures for the diseases of man.
Nature produces a great number of poisonous plants and venomous animals. It is rare that one of these is not recommended as a medicine. Almost the whole of the herbal practice consists in the employment, as medicines, of poisonous plants. Rarely are non-poisonous plant substances thought of as remedies for disease. Sometimes, it is true, poisonous plants are regarded as foods; but on the whole, the nutritive herbs are non-toxic and the medicinal herbs are toxic. The common weed known as burdock was once recommended in America as a food and in France as a medicine. It is extremely doubtful that any plant substance that may be used as a medicine should ever be used as a food.
It may, indeed, be truly said that every substance taken into the body which is unwholesome depraves every organ of the body in proportion to its unwholesomeness. This is as true of vegetable drugs as of mineral drugs and synthetics. When a thing is nauseous, disgusting and poisonous, we should have sense enough to keep it out of our body.
It is folly to assert as many have done that Hygienists make no distinction between poisonous drugs and innocent medicines. By innocent medicines they mean their so-called herbal remedies, which, though often less toxic than the pharmaceutical preparations of the laboratory, are nonetheless poisonous. The so-called active principals of herbal drugs are poisons. As medicine's "best remedies" are among the most virulent poisons, drugs cannot serve nutritional needs. We know that the effects of poisons are injurious, even when they are not apparent, and the very actions that their presence occasions are evidences of their harmfulness. A "mild laxative" is a laxative only because it is injurious. Were it harmless, it would not be a laxative. This is as true of herbal laxatives as of other types. The same fact is true of herbs that fall under other classifications.
How and when did the notion grow up that noxious and poisonous herbs that are unfit for food for man or beast are designed to restore man to health when, by repeated violations of the laws of life he has made himself sick? If the self-styled healers can find any plant possessing what they term remedial properties, which if used by a man in good health will not make him sick, we will offer no objection to its use in caring for the sick.
The herbal practice was originally a ceremonial practice, the herbs being used in the rites and ceremonies of the shaman with no thought that they possessed any healing virtues. Medical historians are well aware of this fact, yet they have helped to create and perpetuate the fallacy that from remotest primitive times mankind has resorted to herbal medicines when ill. Indeed, several of them have attempted to establish an instinctive foundation for the resort to herbal medicines. The instinctive basis of a practice that changes with the wind and that, in almost all of its appliances offends the instincts of man, would be a joke were it not such a grim tragedy.
We need to recognize that many of the products of nature are unfit for entrance into the human body. Even many of the plant substances that are used or that have been used as human foods contain toxic substances and their employment may prove decidedly detrimental. I need hardly remind my readers that the tobacco plant is a product of nature and that its green leaves are as appealing to the eye as the green leaves of chard. But, besides containing minerals, vitamins and high-grade proteins, it is a hot-bed of toxins, nicotine being its most abundant and most toxic ingredient. Whoever would eat a salad of tobacco leaves would probably not live to regret it.
It is not true, as has been asserted, that when the poison has been extracted from an herb all the curative properties of the herb may then be safely taken advantage of. The alleged curative property of the herb is the poisonous quality and when this is removed, there is left only the food values of the plant. If all the poisons could be extracted from the tobacco leaf without damage to its other qualities, the leaf would form an excellent addition to a salad, as it is possessed of a rich supply of minerals and vitamins and contains superior proteins. But it would cure nothing.
Thus, it is sound to say that not everything that is a part of nature, that is, not everything that is natural, is fit for human use. This is true whether we seek to use it as a food or as a medicine. It is also important to note that, if there is nothing in a weed or plant that is inimical to the body's welfare it will be utilized as food and there will be no so-called medicinal action. Calder says of lobelia, which we received from the Indians of North America, that "like so many plants, lobelia is treacherous in the wrong hands. In very large doses it can paralyze the heart's action. In mild doses," he says, "it relieves the spasms of asthma." He omits to add that the relief is evanescent and the asthma persists. This indicates that the herbal practice, like all other drug practices, is symptomatic and that it uses for this purpose poisons.