An epidemic is mass sickness. In all epidemics, the so-called epidemic disease is but one among several symptom complexes presented by the sick. For example, in the 1918-19 influenza-pneumonia pandemic, there were great numbers of cases of mumps, of measles, of typhoid fever, of sleeping sickness and more cases of colds than influenza. Epidemics are due to mass prostrating influences, commonly of an environmental character. The first cold spell of winter may precipitate an epidemic of colds. The overeating of winter may also precipitate an epidemic of colds. The overeating of Thanksgiving and Christmas is invariably followed by a great increase in illness in all elements of the population. Mass want (as in famines), mass fear and insecurity (as in war), mass overwork (as in national emergencies), may result in increased illness. Prolonged heat, prolonged cold, prolonged dry weather, prolonged rainy weather and similar meteorological stresses are sufficient to further prostrate the already greatly enervated and toxemic and result in mass illness. Whether we have an epidemic of influenza, of poliomyelitis, of smallpox, or of measles, seems to depend more upon psychology than any other factor. The profession singles out one single so-called disease from among all of those present and declares it to be epidemic. The other diseases miss the headlines, even though they may be more prevalent.

In all epidemics, the enervated and toxemic are the first to develop the epidemic disease. When these have all developed the disease and either died or recovered, the epidemic ends and the profession knows no more about why it ended than why it originated.

Nothing in man's environment causes disease except as it reduces nerve energy, thus producing enervation, checking elimination and building toxemia. The retained end products of carbohydrate and protein decomposition in the intestines are also prolific sources of poisoning. When the blood becomes super-saturated with cell waste, a safety valve must be opened to relieve it of pent-up toxin. This safety valve is called disease.

When the medical profession is confronted with the term toxemia, it has visions or nightmares of germ infection, or its corollaries--focal infections of the teeth, tonsils, sinuses, gall bladder, appendix, ovaries or pent-up pus somewhere in the body.

The modern substitute for the evil spirit theory of disease is the evil germ theory. Instead of having the body invaded by demons, today it is invaded by germs. When Pasteur gave the profession the germ theory, it was still wearing the three-cornered panties that Hippocrates had placed on it almost 2,500 years previous. The profession accepted Pasteur's theory with avidity and today explains, not only epidemics, but many non-epidemic diseases by recourse to this theory. Historically, bacteriology sprang from the limbo of obsession and exorcism and to this limbo it should again be relegated. Indeed, were it not for the fact that vast and exceedingly powerful industries are founded upon the hypothesis that germs are the causes of disease, the whole science of bacteriology, as this relates to disease, would be discarded tomorrow. The owners of these industries will not stand idly by and watch, without moving heaven and earth to prevent the destruction of their highly lucrative source of income.

If we assume, with the medical men, that germs cause disease, and observe a dog licking his wound with a dirty tongue, we naturally wonder how the wound ever heals. This licking process often follows closely upon the heels of a meal of decaying flesh. The tongue must be teeming with bacteria, yet no infection occurs. This may be interpreted in one of five ways:

    It may be assumed that bacteria are not the cause of infection. It may be assumed that the dog is naturally immune.It may be assumed that, so long as the wound does not become pent-up (this is to say, so long as drainage is perfect), no infection can occur. It may be assumed that the bacteria that cause the decay, of the flesh do not cause infection in living tissues. It may be assumed that a combination of all three of the first assumptions may be involved in the phenomena observed. Which of these interpretations shall we, as Hygienists, accept, even if only tentatively?

If, in the long run, it should be established that germs and viruses (the virus is at present described as a sub-microscopic germ--the original meaning of the word virus in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, French and English is poison) play a secondary role as causal factor elements in disease, it is not possible to escape the fact that they are as powerless as a feather in a whirlwind in a healthy body. The primary cause of disease remains, as Hygienists have insisted from the beginning, violations of the laws of life.

Medical men talk of "tracking diseases to their source," as though they have a local habitat in which they breed and from which they sally forth to invade the surrounding territory. They refuse to recognize that the basic causes of disease he within the organism of the sick person himself. Likewise, they refuse to recognize that the chief cause of the mortality in endemic and epidemic diseases is medical treatment. In all epidemics, as the curing becomes more heroic, the death rate increases. As Trall said: "There never was an epidemic since the world was made, in which allopathic drugging did not make a bad matter worse. The usual remedies resorted to are bleeding, blistering, calomel, antimony and quinine. A worse medley of manslaughterous missiles can hardly be contrived." The simple history of all the severe endemic and epidemic diseases which the world has ever known has been that the more drugs were used the higher was the death rate.

Prof. Eli Metchnikoff once wrote: "Parasites strike with great intensity, bringing about the destruction of numerous animals and plants. Nevertheless, in spite of the disappearance of a large number of species, the world continues to be well populated. This fact proves that, by the special means at the disposal of the organism, without any aid of the medical art or human intervention, many living specimens have held their own throughout the ages." It is important that we understand that these plant and animal organisms have survived in the absence of any assistance from man or the medical profession; that they have survived by reason of means at their own disposal. We should understand that the means of survival are integers of life; that they are intrinsic to the living organism and that they depend, not upon some exotic and adventitious means that are to be found only after long periods of research, but upon the common and easily accessible means of life.

In Rubies in the Sand the author has shown that the normal way of life was from the beginning and that man's survival depends upon the adequacy with which the basic needs of life are supplied to his organism. Hygiene is the normal way of life and each animal has its own normal mode of existence which preserves it in existence so long as it adheres to this. Hygiene is not something that belongs to man alone, nor is it something that man has discovered. It is coeval and coexistent with life. It belongs to life as specific gravity belongs to the elements.