Were a man sick with typhoid fever, during the last century, his physician would dose him with several kinds of drugs, all in 24 hours. What, after that, was the physician likely to know of the ordinary course or natural developments the disease would take? Nothing. For drugs so mask the symptoms and the condition of the patient that no physician can tell after the first 24 hours of drugging what his patient's condition really is.
There was almost always an aggravation of erratic symptoms, such as gripping and tympanitis immediately following any arrest of the diarrhea in the early stages of typhoid. In this disease, too, cerebral complications are easily induced by stimulants given to the patients. Only when diseases are permitted to run their course absolutely without drug treatments and other suppressive measures, is one able to gain insight into the natural history of disease.
What medical men speak of as progress, often represents nothing more significant than change, although the change is sometimes for the worse. It frequently happens that the change is from a bigger evil to a lesser one. Let us take the case of pneumonia. Under the old battle-ax treatment of the last century, the death rate was very high. With the introduction of penicillin, there was a great reduction in the death rate and this has enabled physicians to do considerable crowing over the progress they have made. Actually, all that occurred was a substitution of a less lethal mode of treatment for the older and more lethal mode of abuse--this is to say, penicillin does not cure more cases of pneumonia, it only kills fewer. Penicillin has proven very effective in suppressing the symptoms of pneumonia and, in spite of the fact that it is a very dangerous drug, often occasioning serious side effects and even death, it is less lethal than the drugs employed 25 years ago.
"Hygiene may be good in some trivial ailments, but I would not trust it in severe cases," say many who lack a full understanding of the principles involved. There is no possibility of overrating the principles on which the Hygienic plan of caring for the sick is based. They are as grand as nature, of which they are eternal parts and are, therefore, worthy of our implicit confidence. If "success" is to be estimated by the comparative number of recoveries under the various modes of care, certainly those modes which abjure drugs in all forms possess all the advantages, besides their recoveries do not have to be made all over again ever so often.
The argument of our opponents runs about like this: Hygienic means are adapted to health. Disease is the opposite of health. How can Hygienic means be restorative in this opposite state? But this question misses the essential work of caring for the sick. What is to be restored? Hygiene does not cure disease; it does not aim to cure disease. It aims at the restoration of health of the sick organism and it proposes to restore health with the elements of healthy existence.
What is disease? It is not a thing to be removed, expelled, subdued, broken up, cured or killed. It is not a thing, but an action; not an entity, but a process; not an enemy at war with the organism, but remedial action, a remedial effort; not a substance to be opposed, but an action to be left alone. The drug system endeavors to remove disease; the Hygienic System endeavors to remove the causes of disease. In order that the forces of restoration shall succeed in restoring health, the sick should have normal conditions--this means the proper use of Hygienic means and conditions.
If we can accept the self-healing power of the living structure and can bring ourselves to trust the recuperative powers of the human organism, we will find no need for the myriads of "aids to nature" that are peddled by the many schools of so-called healing. The poisons we shall leave to physicians. The curative effects of poisons is their idea and they are stuck with it. The curative effects of poisons is the one idea, the central idea around which all their practices revolve. By it they live and move and have their being. Those things only which are normally related to the living organism are truly useful in the care of the sick; all things not normally related to the living organism, all poisons, all things that are pathologically related to the organism, are employed on the basis of premises that are false and absurd.
It will be found, upon honest investigation, that Hygiene does not consist in the use of food only or of the fast only, but of due attention to all the facets of life. Diseases are results of violations of the laws and conditions of being and health can be restored only by the sick individual being taught to live in harmony with these laws. He who expects to be "made whole" and still continues to live in a way to impair his organism may as well expect to sober up while he continues to drink.
In Hygiene we insist upon a free supply of fresh air; we regulate the amount of exercise which should be taken; we pay rigid attention to the quantity and quality of food, its preparation, combinations, and the time of its eating; we regulate the amount and kind of clothing, the habits of rest and sleep, temperature of the room, the amount of water drunk, the exercise of the emotions, etc. We permit no unnecessary waste of the power of life, but conserve it, hoard it, and permit its use in the work of repair and reconstruction.
In its widest sense, Hygiene is the application of the principles of nature and the use of the normal means of life for the preservation and restoration of health. In disease it consists in finding and removing the causes of bodily impairment and restoring the conditions of health. At present, drugs are esteemed as important and essentially useful; but this esteem of the people for such substances is exactly proportionate to their departure from the use of the normal things of life and health which are provided by nature and which are competent, not only to sustain them in growth and reproduction, but also to keep them from being sick. When the people shall come to see-they are coming to see now-that it is quite easy and simple to maintain health, because it is normal to be healthy and health is the normal product of the legitimate use of the normal means of life, that it is easier to maintain a normal state of health than it is to recover from an abnormal state of disease, then will they learn to rely upon Hygienic means, not alone to maintain health, but also to restore it. Then will the almost infinite brood of shams and charlatanisms, in the efficacy of which the popular faith has so long largely reposed, go to the bottom of perdition and never rise again.
Editorially, Trall wrote in July, 1860: "Our system is hygienic, not drugopathic. It is precisely what it pretends to be--nothing more, nothing less. It professes to cure diseases--all diseases--by the employment, exclusively, of such agents as are in normal relations to the living organism. These, as we have repeatedly stated, are air, light, temperature, water, food, electricity, exercise, rest, sleep, clothing, passional influences, etc. Whenever a physician prescribes aconite, capsicum, calomel, quinine, opium, wine, brandy, larger beer, bleeding or blistering, he is practicing drugopathically."It is only necessary to add that we use these Hygienic materials as they are normally related to the body and adjust them to the capacities of the sick organism.