One of the most essential things that we need to accomplish today to further the dissemination of the principles of Hygiene and the consequent promotion of human health is to dispel the still prevalent superstition that somewhere in nature there are remedies for all maladies, of whatever form, which possess the power to cure disease. This lingering faith of the people in the curative power of nostrums, or acts to be performed, or some extraneous element somewhere in the universe, is the primary cause of man's slavery to drug medication and the consequent evils which must necessarily follow.
Drugs and treatments are administered and patients get well. The assumption has always been that the drugs and treatment restored health--cured the disease. So long as all patients were drugged, it may have seemed logical to assume that drugs accounted for recovery; but once other means of caring for the sick were employed, it soon became evident that there must be some other way to account for recovery. If the sick pray and get well, if they carry a horse chestnut in the pocket and get well, if they are massaged and get well, if they bathe and get well, if they do nothing and get well, if almost anything, from incantations and prayers to the most violent processes of cure, seems to restore health, what is really responsible for recovery? If we take the broader view of the matter the fact becomes obvious that either there is curative power in everything or the real healing power resides in something other than the means of cure. The Hygienic answer to our question is this: all healing processes that occur in the living body are biological in character and belong to the organism; they are not the work of drugs nor of treatments. The healing power resides in the body and is one of the cardinal functions of the living organism.
Millions of cures have been discovered during the past nearly 3,000 years and a number of them have enjoyed a lengthy vogue, but none of them have proved truly successful. All of the cures meet their waterloo. None of them remain cures indefinitely, so that they have passed in a long and melancholy succession to that Limbo reserved for the cures that pass in the night. In modern times, with greater facilities for discovering cures and better means of testing them and checking their hoped-for effectiveness, the cures come and go like fashions in women's hats. Great numbers of them last no longer than is required to get the initial announcement of their discovery into the public press. Others enjoy a few months of hope and expectation, then, like the skyrocket that thought it was a shooting star as it ascended and came down only to find that it was a burnt stick, they cease to be objects of awe. All of them, those that last the longest being the worst offenders in this respect, leave an aftermath of injury and death behind as they pass. Think, for example, of the injury and death that resulted from the transient lighting up of the horizon that the sulfonamides occasioned, only to be followed by a more brilliant light, with a greater number of deaths and injuries from penicillin.
The antibiotics are no more popular today, they are credited with no greater achievements and are not supposed to be effective in a greater number of diseases, than were such drugs as mercury, quinine, alcohol and opium in the past. Blood transfusion is no more popular today than blood letting 100 years ago. Hormone injections have simply supplanted the use of the excreta of man and animals. There was a time when powdered mice cured whooping cough; today a vaccine (allergin) made from the sweepings from city streets prevents hay fever. The first was a superstitious practice; the second is scientific. The intelligent layman will have great difficulty in distinguishing between superstition and science in this instance.
One studies the mortuary tables with the vague feeling that physicians are far from saving all of their patients. In spite of their boasted science and their loud trumpetings about their progress, the health of our people continues to deteriorate and the army of incurables grows by leaps and bounds. If we think for a while upon the multitudinous ways and means that have been conjured up to cure disease, we are bound to conclude that there must be something wrong somewhere. Certainly all of these means cannot be right; all the conflicting principles that have been advanced cannot be right. The persistent failure of all the cures would seem to demonstrate the correctness of this conclusion. Seldom in all history has a doubtful end ever been pursued with a more obsessed devotion and less appropriate techniques.
The continuous search for new and more effective cures signifies the lack of valid underlying principles to guide the physician in his care of his patient. Under the guise of research, the search for cures is carried on unceasingly and has evolved into a giant international industry which must pay dividends even if it does not produce bonified cures.
The conviction is growing in the minds of pharmaceutical researchers that they have about reached the limits of possibilities in finding new drugs. A writer in the Evening Standard (London), February 10, 1967, in an article headed, "The World of Science looks at the Drug Industry," says: "The hunt for new drugs goes on. But the discovery rate is slackening--primarily because all the obvious substances have been looked at at least once." This writer then informs us that Britain's pharmaceutical industry "is adjusting its research effort to place more emphasis on learning how existing drugs work in the body. In particular, it is looking at what is happening inside the cell . . ." Having nearly exhausted the possible sources of cures, they are returning once again to the effort to discover the so-called modus operandi of their poisons. It is probable that few drugs ever get inside the cell; it is certain that if they do havoc is the result.
Herbert Spencer once made the remark that mankind never tries the right remedy until it has exhausted every possible wrong one. If the forces of medicine seem to have tried about every possible wrong remedy, may we hope that they will now turn their attention to the right one?
How often do we hear people declare that: "I know that if I had not taken this medicine, I would not have lived." Yet we know well that they do not know anything of the kind. They but give expression to their ignorance and credulity. The poet was more right when he said:
"Nature rights the injuries done her;
Drugs and doctors get the honor."
So-called medicine or the so-called art of healing has grown out of the almost universal state of disease, suffering and premature death. If man lived in a state of health, he would have no cause to develop an art of healing. But ever since he departed from the simple requirements of nature, he has been suffering and searching for means of relief and supporting an army of disease treaters who have endeavored to cure disease while completely ignoring its cause. The schools of so-called healing have carried men farther and still farther from the truth, until now it is a serious question, whether the so-called art of healing as practiced in so-called civilized countries is not a greater cause of disease and premature death than all the other violations of natural law combined.
Every thinking man should be able to see how absurd and unnatural are the modes of medication. Yet they are not more absurd and unnatural than the means which we employ to get sick in the first place. The greatest absurdity would seem to be that of trying to remedy one absurdity by another. Our modes of treatment are of a piece with our general habits and if it be asked how learned and scientific men have pursued and taught such a course of practice, it may also be asked with equal justice how the learned and scientific have partaken so largely of all the other errors and absurdities of human life.
The simple instincts and sound sense of mankind have long revolted at the most glaring absurdities of medical practice. In the days of universal bleeding, there was natural and well-founded horror of shedding blood in disease, just as there was a repugnance to mercury, quinine and other drugs which were so commonly used. In spite of this natural abhorrence of such practices, medical men have continued to administer not only mineral drugs, but the scarcely less irremediable poisons of the vegetable kingdom. At all times the prevailing system of medical practice has been one of weakening by blood letting, torturing by blisters, noxious cauteries, and poisoning by a whole materia medica of paralyzers, convulsives, emetics, delirifacients, cathartics, anodynes, alteratives, sedatives and stimulants, not one of which can be taken into the human system at any time in any quantity without injury to its organization.
The results of the prevailing modes of medical practice always have been and are what we might reasonably expect from such destructive and anti-natural processes. We see them in saturnined forms and shallow faces, in the common lack of development and beauty, in falling hair and rotting teeth, in failing sight and hearing, in the prevalent digestive disorders, hysteria and hypochondria, in racking arthritis and tuberculosis, in painful and perilous childbirths, in uterine diseases, in diseases of the glands and bones and in the whole catalogue of chronic diseases which are mainly the diseases of medication and, finally, we see them in the death rate that cuts short human life and fills our whole world with mourning. We appeal to the common sense of intelligent people, whether chronic disease and premature death and the medication by the virulent poisons contained in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, combined with reckless waste of vitality in bleeding and purgation, did not stand to each other in the relation of cause and effect.
It seems probable that had there been no physicians to whom the people could have looked for cures, they would have done their own thinking and would have long ago worked out their problems. Curing and cures stand in the way of health and the healthful way of life and the rule--"that which will make you sick if you are well will make you well if you are sick"--would be recognized as the stupendous fallacy that it is, did the belief in cures not stand in the way.
But physicians cannot afford to admit that their drugs are without constructive value. Were medical men to admit that there is no such thing as a cure, pandemonium would break loose; medical superstitions would be seen for the fallacies that they are and medical investments would lose their value. Wall Street would go fishing; the drug shops would close their doors; the patent medicine vendors would cease barking their wares; vivisection would come to a sudden end and medical research would be cast into the bottomless pit.