The Hygienic System embraces every directly beneficial substance and condition known and rejects nothing that nature does not also reject. Let us fly to the rich and bountiful resources of nature, as these are normally related to the living organism, and not ransack the earth for poisonous plants and corrosive minerals--extracting potions from the deadliest substances--let us drink from the crystal-clear waters that flow from the fountain of Hygiene with which we are surrounded and which is unsealed and accessible to all. The reign of biology must supplant the reign of chemistry; the reign of metabolism must supplant that of pharmacology.
There must always be a normal connection between the living organism, whether in its normal or abnormal activities, and the material things that contribute more or less perfectly to sustain biological and physiological phenomena. No substance that is not a factor-element in physiology can have any value in the living structure under any circumstance of life. That which is not usable in a state of health is equally non-usable in a state of disease. Any system of therapeutics not founded on and consistent with the principles of physiology must be founded in error and the practice of such a system must be attended with harm in direct proportion to the extensiveness of the practice.
So long as the constitution of our universe remains the same, the laws that govern life and the needs of the living organism will remain unchangeable. So long as the principles of physiology continue as now, so long will they be the authority in practice. So long as the modes of vital activities remain unalterable, they will continue to provide us with a pleasing and reliable source of reference--a reference infallible, as it is incapable of being distorted by the tricks of the disease-treaters, or misled by mystical, unmeaning technicalities.
We do not admit into the circle of remedial means any agent or condition that is inimical to the constitution. We cannot admit as remedies, substances that are hurtful to the living body; we want friendly things, not disease-producing things. Desperate remedies are foes of life. If the living organism, when in the vigor of full health, is so unable to successfully resist the effects of a given poison as to be killed by it, no possible logic can make it clear that when the functions of the same organism have been impaired and the individual is sick, he will be restored to health by the administration of this same poison, that the poison in and of itself becomes a remedy.
All drugs are poisons. Every new drug is a new poison. All drugs cause disease; every new drug produces a new disease. No living creature was ever saved by drugs. All living things are restored to health, when sick, by the use of those substances, and only under those conditions that maintain the body in health. They must supply the needs of the system and not simply overcome a condition. If drugs can supply these needs, fill the vacuum, restore the waste, then they are fit substances with which to sustain the life and growth of a healthy organism; if not, they are unfit substances to introduce into the body under any circumstance.
The conditions of health are ever the same. The same elements that maintain health also restore health. The only true system of caring for the sick is that originally established in nature. This is not only the best and safest, the most economical and most successful, but it is the only system of care founded in nature and adapted to the wants of man. We make this claim boldly, because we make it justly. It is no new system, for it is as old as the universe. It is a system to which natural instinct guides animals and man. It is as old and universal as nature itself, based upon the profoundest science; yet like everything else good and true, it is simple, harmonious and beautiful.
Nature performs no unnatural acts, works no miracles and exerts no extraordinary energy in making a fool of herself. She has an ordinary and regular way, nonetheless scientific because ordinary, for keeping organic beings alive and in vigorous health and it is folly to think that when her ordinary methods have been discarded or ignored and sickness has resulted, she will make extraordinary or unexpected or unheard of or nearly miraculous efforts to restore health. Never for any consideration will or can nature stoop to the use of means to restore health that differ in kind from those which, had the patient chosen them, would have kept him in health. Her extraordinary efforts are just what the word implies--more than ordinary-efforts common to her, but intensified, an increased exercise of energy as needed in the circumstances. Nature is greater than the disease-treaters and she imposes her own conditions upon the processes of recovery and no disease-treater, however learned, can override these.
In selecting our means for the care of the sick, our choice necessarily lies between two classes of means, which we denominate usable and non-usable means. Our selection must be based squarely on the principle that only those things that have a constitutional relation to the living organism are of use to it in either health or disease. In selecting the usable we but follow in the footsteps of nature-we choose those substances and conditions which she spontaneously chooses for purposes of growth and repair. These may be said to be nature's remedies; they are the elements of Hygiene; they supply the conditions and means by and through which life and living structures are maintained and developed.
The needs of the organism in sickness, as in health, are of ordinary stamp and lie all around us in profusion. Physicians would have us believe that the needs of the sick organism are extraordinary, exotic and rare, requiring great skill in their administration and that they are of such unusual efficaciousness that only the highly trained expert can be entrusted with their administration. As Hygienists, we contend, on the other hand, that remedies in any true sense are those materials or influences which supply physiological needs, either of materials or of conditions, that are favorable to the operations of the powers inherent in the living organism or that remove the causes of disease and which are not chemically or physiologically incompatible with the structures and functions of life.
Wherever any great power lies hidden, out of which great results may be wrought, it will be found, on thorough investigation, that the measure of that power is as the simplicity of the process of application. Nature's mightiest forces are the simplest things. In nothing is this truer than in the process of healing. The means employed and the plan followed in healing the sick organism are as simple as the means for preventing sickness. In fact, they are the same in kind--always the same in kind--but qualified in the force of their application.