Man has been on the earth along time--how long we do not know. The period of prehistory may be much longer than the historic period. A medical profession has existed for only a small part of the historic period. Prior to the origin of the medical profession, the sick were cared for by the shaman and priest. But it is not possible that at man's origin he had the services of these two ministers. No doubt much time elapsed after his emergence on the stage of life before the shaman and priest came into being. During all of this time--this is to say, before there was a surgeon, before there was a physician, before there was a priest, before there was a shaman--wounds healed, broken bones knit and man recovered from his illnesses. That he did a good job of this is evidenced by the fact that he is still here today. Healing is a biological process, not an art. We know today that it is accomplished by forces and processes intrinsic to the living organism and not by substances and things outside of the body.
Let us also point out that after the medical profession came into existence, centuries passed before more than a small segment of the race had the doubtful advantages of its services. Indeed, there are still vast sections of the globe in which there are no physicians. In addition, in its earlier stages, medical men were grossly ignorant, darkly superstitious and lacking in all the technical skills that the profession has today. They possessed none of the complicated machines with which they now seek to discover the patient's trouble and were lacking in almost everything that is now regarded as essential to the "successful practice of medicine."
In-spite of all this (looking at the matter from the commonly accepted viewpoint), people persisted in getting well and the human population continued to increase and spread over the earth. Not even the intermittent wars that have characterized the historic period have been sufficient to decimate the ranks of mankind.
An even greater evidence of the self-healing power of the body is seen in the fact that all through human history, patients have recovered from all kinds of disease states, not only without treatment and under modes of treatment that were without the slightest helpful effect, but they have also recovered under treatments that were crucifying. When it is said that without antihistamine a patient will get well of a cold in a week and that with antihistamine he will get well in seven days, expression is given to a fact of great significance.
If, through great stretches of time, man did not have physicians; if, after these came into existence, they were accessible to but a few people; if at their origin they lacked almost all of the technical and scientific equipment of the modern physician and if, even now, great numbers of men and women do not have their services, then we must think that some power other than the medical has been responsible for the survival and multiplication of the race, for the recovery of the sick, for the healing of wounds and the knitting of bones.
What, may we ask, is responsible for recovery of the sick today? Have the means of healing and restoration been radically changed? Whereas the sick formerly recovered by virtue of their own intrinsic power of self-healing, do they recover today only by virtue of the therapeutic measures of their physicians and other disease treaters? Does recovery today depend upon the same powers and processes upon which it rested in the long ago?
We do not think that the correct answer to these questions can be in doubt. Most medical practice is frankly merely palliative; it is not even thought to be curative. Neither the physician nor the layman thinks that a laxative cures constipation or that an aspirin cures headache. Physicians are engaged in nothing more significant than palliating symptoms while the inherent restorative powers of the patient restore health. We might accept the palliative practice as useful were it not for the fact that palliatives occasion troubles of their own and always interfere with the body's restorative processes.
If a bone is broken, it may be set by human art; but no human art can heal it. All that the surgeon can do, after setting the bone, is to stand quietly by and wait for the processes of healing to do their work. A wound is not a disease; but the vital activities--pain, inflammation, feverishness and other evidences of vital action--do constitute disease or remedial action. These represent processes by which healing is accomplished. There can be no disease where there is nothing to be remedied and there can be no appreciable remedying of abnormal conditions without remedial effort--disease. A broken bone, like a flesh wound, is healed by inflammatory action.
Wounds heal and it is generally known today that there are no healing agents that will do this work. But this was not always known and they were medicated with salves, plasters and drugs to which the healing was attributed. Even for a long time after it became known that the body heals its own wounds, salves were regarded as necessary auxilaries of the healing process.
The idea that it is nature that heals may have been first expressed in some of the books attributed to the legendary Hippocrates. The idea slumbered from the time of Hippocrates until it was revived in the seventeenth century by Stahl, who contended (with considerable ability) for the existence of remedial powers within the organism-a power which has since been termed the vix medicatrix naturae. Since the time of Stahl, the healing power of nature has often been affirmed and as often denied by medical theoreticians. Even today they are very cautious about admitting a remedial tendency within the living organism--cures are still being wrought by their drugs. Too many admissions of the intrinsic power of self-healing would prove incompatible with current orthodoxy, both in thought and practice. If the body heals itself, what need is there for cures?
Medical libraries around the world are filled with collections of books on the Theory and Practice of Physic and the Theory and Practice of Medicine, but they contain none on the principles and practices of nature. Although they often render lip service to the statement that "nature is the great healer" and say that they only "aid nature," the medical world has ever been busily engaged in devising some means of cure or trying to discover some specific for disease in drugs and have ignored "nature."
We find nothing in the human constitution that precludes the restoration of health, even after serious disease; but on the contrary, there is a powerful, recuperative principle always on the alert to resist harm and to repair injury. The living organism is energetic and persistent in its efforts to retain and restore its normal state and never gives up the effort to restore health until the last vital spark is extinguished and death results.
We are asked to believe that, though there are no drugs that will heal a wound, there are some that will cure pneumonia or typhoid fever. It it known and admitted that patients recovered in great numbers from both of these diseases when they had no drugs that would cure them. Such recoveries demonstrated beyond cavil or doubt that the healing power of the body is capable of restoring health in both pneumonia and typhoid. The same facts are true of other so-called diseases with which man suffers and for which no alleged cures exist or have existed for but a short time. We are entitled to ask: are there two natural modes of healing operating upon different principles, one of them carried on by the living organism, the other carried out by drugs?