"There is not in nature," they said, "any law of reversion. Results are produced only by appropriate means and effects always correspond to causes. Good cannot be accomplished by evil agencies, nor evil result from good when properly applied." They declared that if a thing is not needful or beneficial in health, it is not needful or beneficial in disease. This was all good, but it was all too often ignored. There were too many remedial appliances that have no place in health. They failed to eliminate the cures from Hygiene.
These contradictions of precept and practice can be explained only by assuming that the early Hygienists were so close to the old practices which they had abandoned that they failed to see clearly the full import of the principles which they discovered and promulgated. That these principles and precepts were more clearly seen by some than by others is clear to the student of the early days of Hygiene. But that it was not clearly seen by all seems to be largely responsible for the fact that Hygiene was soon buried beneath an avalanche of gadgets and modalities.
We are faced with a similar situation today. Every newcomer to Hygiene, whether layman or professional, seeks to bring along with him a lot of baggage from the curing systems to which he had previously paid allegiance. Which of my old loves may I keep, he is sure to ask himself. To which of my little gutta percha gods may I erect a new altar? To which of my former idols may I continue to cling? Is it not true that there is good in all systems? May I not select the good and reject the bad? The tendency to hang onto old delusions, while trying to shift one's thinking into new channels, is great.
It should be quite obvious that when one resorts to the various therapeutic modalities that exist, he deserts Hygiene. The man who trusts the Hygienic System only when there is no danger and, when danger appears, deserts it for whatever fancy or caprice may dictate without any fixed principles to guide him is a poor Hygienist. To the degree that the practitioner relies upon either drug poisons or drugless modalities will he fail to employ to their fullest extent the resources of Hygiene. Let the man who has full confidence in the power of Hygienic means to preserve health have the care of the sick individual and he will bring the full resources of Hygiene into requisition to supply the physiologic needs of the sick organism, with full confidence in their fitness to fulfill these needs in sickness as they do in health.
Such a man knows that healing is a biological process which he can neither imitate nor duplicate, that healing is as much a process of the living organism as respiration, digestion, circulation, assimilation and excretion. Relying, then, upon the powers of life and the means which these employ to heal and with full confidence in them, the Hygienist will not seek for cures. He will not haunt the out-of-the-way places of earth for rare, exotic and adventitious substances and processes with which to do that which only the living organism, obeying its own laws, is capable of doing.
He will not employ the resources of Hygiene as cures, but as a means of supplying the ordinary and indispensable means of life. The Hygienic System is simply the intelligent and lawful application of all the life requirements brought to bear upon the living organism in due proportion according to need. These means maintain the body in health when properly used--they are adequate to the needs (and nothing else is) of the body in sickness. Hygiene does not recognize any radical change in the organism in disease so that it needs when sick that which it cannot use when well. Health is to be restored by the processes of life under the benign influence of the normal things of life and not by heaping abuses upon the body by drugging it and subjecting it to treatments.
Hygiene stresses the principle that there must always be a normal relation between the living organism, whether well or sick, and the material things and conditions that contribute more or less perfectly to sustain physiological phenomena. Only those things that have a normal relation to the structures and functions of the organism are usable, whether in health or in sickness. Only those who envisage disease as an entity, a positive and organized force, that has attacked the body and is seeking to destroy it, can find any theoretical justification for the employment of hurtful treatments.
The extra-Hygienic means and measures that secured the adherence of so many Hygienists in varying degrees may be grouped under the following heads: hydropathy, electro-therapy, mechano-therapy, magnetism and spiritual healing. Although not all Hygienists employed all of these means of treating the sick, almost all of them did use water-cure appliances. We may say with Dr. G. H. Taylor, that "a blind adherence to any medical faith is unworthy intelligent beings." The Hygienic practice grew out of an observation of the plainest truths and so far as it is a system, is founded in the reason and nature of things; yet it suffered and will continue to, from the inaccurate apprehension of some of its most ardent advocates. Antiquated medical notions were often provokingly mingled with the truths received, especially if one had been much sick and drugged.
Dr. Taylor tells us that it would be almost amusing to list the different notions people had of curing by water. "Some appear to think," he said, "it to be essentially a cleansing process, each successive bathing affecting the system more profoundly, till the filth of the disease is quite washed away, as soiled garments are restored to pristine qualities and favor."
Although disease was understood to be a remedial process, it was thought that there was danger in this process in proportion to the extent to which the remedial efforts were concentrated wholly or nearly so in a single organ--hence the necessity for regulation and direction. It was feared that "the vital action may become concentrated upon the lungs" or other "internal organs or tissues," and this was supposed to constitute a danger which could be obviated by resort to "counter-irritation" to diffuse the remedial effort. It was held that "the more important the organ in the vital machinery upon which the disease is concentrated, the more suspicious is the intelligent physician of the consequences. And the further the disease is removed from important organs, the less, of course, is he concerned with the results . . ."
It was thought that the true principle of care of the sick "consists in the modification of the efforts of nature to exalt, depress or diffuse, as circumstances demand, knowing that the real danger consists in the intensity and concentration of disease in particular parts."