Graham's view of the essential nature of disease is well summed up in his statement that "all parts (of the body) sympathise with the suffering organ, and by a general consentaneousness of action, strive together to remove the offending cause-and when the emergency is great, and the danger imminent, the agonizing energy of organic life is poured upon those muscles of animal life concerned in respiration, and violent vomitings, &c., ensue. In all these operations the organic instinct acts determinately, and as it were, rationally, with reference to a final cause of good, viz, the removal of the offending cause."
Graham was hardly prepared to go as far as did Jennings in accepting convulsions or spasms as orthopathic in character, but he did view them as being of the same essential character, although resulting from a misdirection of the remedial efforts. They represented to him excessive activity, consequent upon too prolonged or too frequently repeated "disturbing cause." Essentially, however, they represented actions initiated by the "perceiving organic sensibilities" as "immediate measures" to "shield the special domain (he is discussing the stomach) from the pernicious action of the (offending) substance." First, there is "increased secretion;" then, "if the quantity and quality of the substance be such as to endanger seriously, the vital interests of the whole system, the special center gives alarm to the great common center of organic life."
"Few things," he said, "will more speedily and completely prostrate the muscular powers of even the strongest man, than light irritation of the alimentary canal." "Epilepsy and other convulsive fits and spasmodic affections almost universally result from irritations in the domain of organic life, and the alimentary canal is most generally the seat of these irritations."
A genuine science of life (biology) will demonstrate that those abnormal actions and processes of the living organism that are designated disease are not extraneous somethings bent on the destruction of life, but that they are operations of the same forces that are operative in the actions and processes that we designate health. A genuine biology will demonstrate that those actions and processes that are designated disease are under control of immutable laws and are designed for the preservation of individual life, the repair of injuries or the removal of harmful or destructive substances.
The vomiting and diarrhea, for example, that often follow the accidental taking of a poison, are precisely the same as the vomiting and purging that accompany what is called disease and serve the same ends. Poisoning may occur in the healthiest individual. This means that the healthy man employs as a means of preserving his life precisely the same processes and actions that the sick man employs. If we look at these processes closely, we cannot fail to discover that the process that is designed to save life in accidental poisoning is precisely the same as the process that we call disease. In other words, disease is the remedial process.
Since any organismic disturbance, whatever its origin or locus, constitutes a menace to the organism's continued existence, it automatically occasions the mobilizations of the body's "mechanism" of defense. Do healing or reconstructive operations ever take place when there is nothing requiring healing or restoration? The answer to this question would seem to be self-evident. There can be no healing process when there is nothing to heal; and if this is correct, the healing process will always be concentrated where there is injury to repair. Coughing never occurs when the lungs and bronchial tubes are clear; sneezing never occurs when the nasal passages are free of irritation and obstruction; diarrhea does not occur if there is nothing in the digestive tract that should be hurridly removed; vomiting occurs only when there is something requiring forceful ejection from the stomach, and so on with the other processes of defense, ejection and repair.
Self-preservative processes are necessary and fundamental conditions of life. It is a fact of universal observation that principles never fail when the conditions requisite to their operation are present. The self-preservative principles of organisms which operate to restore health must, therefore, become operative when a living organism is injured, impaired or poisoned. Should it ever fail, this would be proof that it is not a principle of life.
Can we prove, by reference to facts, that there is an invariable connection between healing operations and the existence of a need for them? Perhaps not, for it is absolutely impossible for us to search into the depths of human life and observe all that occurs. But all the facts that can be seen tend to prove that the connection is invariable. Certainly, no fact has ever been established against it.
If this position is not true, we have no basis for our practice. If it is true, it is the only correct basis; hence, all who deny it are necessarily practicing on a wrong theory and, hence, more liable to error. As we understand this subject, the whole popular system of drug-medication is based on an erroneous apprehension of the nature of disease and it is this error which causes so many Hygienic practitioners to introduce greater or lesser portions of such practices into their work. The theory we adopt leads us to the rejection of all drug-medicines and it is certainly an important question--who is right.
If disease is vital action, if it is a self-preservative process, the greater the strength and vigor of the patient, the greater the vital action should be under the same injury. If disease is remedial force, the greater the vital activity, the more vigorous the symptoms, the more certain the recovery. If disease is a purely destructive process, as is popularly and scientifically supposed, the exact opposite should be the case.
A man who, in health, is vigorous and active will, in disease, manifest a corresponding symptomatic vigor; the vigorous and active man or woman will act in relation to drug poisons with double the force that a sluggish or greatly impaired person will act. A man whose energies are low will act feebly in relation to the same dose. If our position is correct, why is it that the strongest person, when he becomes ill, is likely to have the most violent sickness? Why, also, is it true that the patient who has the most violent symptoms is most likely to get well and to get well most rapidly?
Related to this very subject is a statement made by Dr. Jackson that "among the rules--organic, fundamental or vital, as you may please to call them--which nature has for the preservation of health to her subjects, is this: the removal of disease from parts or portions of the body which can ill afford to bear derangement to parts or portions which can much better afford to be diseased." His examples are not convincing, but suggestive. He said: "General disturbance of the system is not near as likely to follow inflammation of the mucous lining of the eyelids as it is to follow inflammation of the mucous lining of the stomach. If, from any cause, there is likelihood of the appearance of inflammation of the latter, nature, unmeddled with, is sure to do one of two things: either set up direct curative action, or remove the difficulty by some organ whose derangement is comparatively of little consequence. The latter action is what physicians call metastasis, or change in the seat of the disease and is common, but salutary, where the vital or protective forces of the system produce it, and is also common, but quite otherwise than salutary, where the changes are produced by drugs."