This section is from the book "Natural Hygiene: Man's Pristine Way Of Life", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: Natural Hygiene: Man's Pristine Way of Life.
It is a very mistaken idea, not unfrequently a fatal one, possessed by the people, that something different is needed to restore the sick person to health than is needed to keep him well when he is well. Upon this point the people need education. But education is a slow, painstaking and sometimes perilous business if one pursues it steadily, consistently, pertinaciously. People are always slow to learn that which is for their good. They learn more slowly of that which traverses their indulgences and more slowly still what compels them to change the whole course of their lives. Who sets about, therefore, to inform the public about the evils of drug medication and undertakes to educate them as to the needs of changing their personal habits will run into difficulty.
The Hygienic System consists generally and in the broadest sense, in removing injurious and supplying favorable conditions. It rejects the the old fallacy that poison is medicine and adopts the idea that every normal thing under the sun is remedial. In its ample Materia Hygienica are embraced every element which nature employs in all her formative organic processes. Instead of a Materia Medica, limited solely to mineral, animal and vegetable poisons, it finds its means of care in the air of heaven, the light of the universe, the water from the clouds, fruits and vegetables from the earth, warmth from the sun, in the moderate exercise of all the muscular and passional capacities of life; in short, Hygiene's Cornucopia is filled to overflowing with those means which have a normal relation to the living organism. The Hygienist calls the elements of health to his assistance.
Hygiene must embrace in its scope all the details indicated in the foregoing sketch. It must not suggest too exclusively the use, or the science of the use of diet or fasting or sunshine or any other elementalfactor that is contained within its overall composition. It must not exclude any of the normal elements of life. It may be thought that some important gain is made by reducing the application of Hygienic art to a single physiological element and that, from the extensive and necessary correlations of other factors of physiological functions, a partial and temporary subjection of all of them to one simplifies our work; but this can only prove to be an illusion. The system, at all times, has need for all of the physiological factors that constitute Hygiene.
There are those, reasoning only from observations from the employment of some of its means, who deny Hygiene any adequacy in the exigencies of disease and insist that pathological exigencies require something more rare and mysterious. on the other hand, the overenthusiastic advocate, observing its value in many cases of illness, ascribes to it powers and qualities that quite transcend the bounds of sober reality. The virtues of Hygiene in supplying the needs of life in disease and in enabling the body to successfully prosecute its healing operations and its fitness, as related to the living structure or what is the same thing--the science of physiology--can be determined only by its legitimate use. A true science, instead of directing the invalid to some mysterious balsams, will point to ways and means of securing appropriate Hygienic materials and conditions, these, under all circumstances, being the only ones that are compatible with life, hence, with the restoration of health.
The broad and distinct issue between the Hygienic System and the drug systems is this: Hygiene seeks to restore health by healthful means and conditions; the drug systems seek to cure disease with agents that are known to produce disease in the well. Instead of filling our bodies with poisons, why not look to rest, sleep, better food, physiological rest, exercise, sunshine, emotional poise, cleanliness, plain and simple wholesome food, as the means of restoring us to health? Hygienic care consists in the use of such means as, when applied to a man in health, will keep him in health and will not tend to make him sick. Medical treatment of the sick consists almost wholly in the use of means which, if given to a man in perfect health, would unfit him for work or business or, perhaps, put him in bed and even kill him. The Hygienist rejects all poisons and employs only beneficial substances and conditions to aid the healing processes of the body.
It must be made clear to everyone that the all-efficient laws of nature operate continuously and progressively to reinstate physiological vigor and harmony--health--and that the conditions of health and only these, can and must, sooner or later, ensure health to the organism subject to them, unless irreparable injury has been sustained. If they can be made to understand that through these means and through these alone can they expect to come out victorious in the end, they can be depended upon to abandon the fatal drugging system and turn to nature's own means of restoring health. To this end we must educate rather than medicate them.
We have to learn to view Hygiene as constituting a rational and methodical use of every essential of life in a state of disease as well as in health. In his famous lecture in the Smithsonian Institute on The True Healing Art Trall stressed the fact that Hygiene employs as remedial agents for sick persons "the same materials and influences which preserve health in well persons." This simply means that health is to be restored by the elements of health and not by the employment of substances and influences that are known to cause disease. We are fully convinced that these Hygienic means are so intrinsically friendly to the human body that a very extraordinary degree of bungling, of ignorance and presumption, is required to produce results that are really dangerous; that a medical man does more frequent and more serious mischief with his drugs, even the simplest of them, than a Hygienist of very modest experience does or can do with any misapplication of Hygienic means.
Hygiene is a natural system of caring for the sick and is of universal application. It comprehends the maintenance of all the conditions of health, the removal of all the causes of impaired health and a thorough and scientific application of the elements of health as the proper and sufficient means of supplying the needs of the recuperative and reparative powers of the living organism in restoring health. In acute disease it is the most safe and speedy means; in chronic, the only one reliable. The relief it gives is real and permanent. There is no form of disease, there is no condition of the human system in which Hygiene, wisely applied, is not adapted to the wants of the living organism. Health is the natural termination of disease, and the conditions of health are provided by Hygiene. Hygiene means more than taking a bath. Names are not things, and Hygiene has a broad meaning. The agents of Hygiene are all the elements of nature which have a vital relationship to the human constitution, and are those most intimately connected with the phenomenon of life. The elements of life are air, water, food, temperature and, perhaps, a few less understood elements. Anatomy, physiology and pathology teach us the structure of the human system, the nature of its healthy processes, and the diseases to which it is liable. Chemistry opens to us the vast domains of nature and makes us acquainted with the elements in which we live, move and have our being. When all these are understood, a true philosophy teaches us to apply these principles to the grand objects of health-science--the preservation and restoration of health; and it is this philosophy, in its broadest and widest application, which has received the designation Natural Hygiene.