It will now be readily seen that drugs interrupt the functional harmony of the body, first, by their chemical incompatibility, and second, by their non-usableness, which renders their immediate removal an object of particular concern to the living tissues, and third, by the fact that their very presence occasions vital resistance in direct proportion to the difficulty of expelling them. Drugs assassinate the human constitution.
None of the medical schools existing at the time the Hygienic System came into being was able to make valid distinctions between drug poisons and Hygienic means nor between food and poison. Poison is poison and food is food and they are as distinct from each other as life and death. They cannot be used interchangeably and any effort to so use them must result in evil consequences. The prescription of a physician lacks all power to convert one into the other; they remain the same under all conditions and circumstances. Poisons are poisons by virtue of their own elemental character. They are not poisons by virtue of their simple relations to some individual organism.
Substances that cannot be metabolized, and this means substances that cannot be transformed into cell substance, are of no possible use to the living organism in either a state of health or in a state of disease. The presence of such substances in the body can serve only as disturbing elements. They are foreign bodies and must be expelled, often at great expense to the organism.
Metabolism is defined as "tissue change, the sum of all the physical and chemical processes by which living organized substance is produced and maintained and also the transformation by which energy is made available for use by the organism." Metabolism is the sum of the biological processes upon which the processes of growth and repair of the cells and tissues depend. As it is common to confine the process to the cell, it has been said that "metabolism is the cell; the cell is metabolism." This, however, is a mere play on words. The process of metabolism is comprised of three activities, as follows:
From the foregoing it may be seen that metabolism may be defined as the sum of the processes by which nutritive materials are utilized and ultimately discarded. As substances are discarded, they require to be replaced-hence the need for a more or less constant supply of food materials to the cell. All of this involves another consideration that is not commonly noted by physiologists: namely, the kind of materials that can be metabolized. Metabolism refers to the changes that foods undergo in being appropriated and used by the body. It involves the actual incorporation of food materials into the substances of the cell. It is a large part of the process by which we live and grow and develop.
Substances which are not adapted to the normal processes of metabolism, whether introduced into the body from the outside or generated within the organism itself, are not usable by the body and nvaribly prove to be harmful. A sane method of caring for the sick will not attempt to force the body to utilize substances that are not subject to its metabolic processes.
The metabolism of the human organism is radically different from that of the plant. Whereas plants can appropriate and utilize elements from the soil, the animal organism is unable to do so. As a matter of fact, the animal organism will not tolerate the presence of soil elements in inorganic form, but resists and expels them to the limit of its capacity. Iron, for example, can be assimilated by the animal organism only as it comes to us in the organic combinations found in food. Otherwise, it is a poison. Although for many decades drug preparations containing iron have been fed to anemic patients in large amounts, no cases of anemia have ever been remedied by this type of drugging. It is stated by a writer in the Scientific American, May 1966, that: "At least 12 children a year in the U.S. die of eating the sugar-coated iron-containing pills (ferrous sulphate) that their mothers may be taking for anemia. In Britain this raiding of the medicine cabinet for ferrous sulphate tablets accounts for about 10 per cent of all the fatal poisonings of children. In South Africa, the Bantu, who drink a beer made in iron vessels and thus ingest 50 to 100 milligrams of iron daily, commonly suffer from many ailments partly induced by iron, including cirrhosis of the liver, by the time they reach middle age." These are merely a few examples of many evidences that iron is a poison when taken in inorganic, hence, non-metabolizable form. What is true of iron is equally true of sulphur, phosphorus, iodine, calcium and other minerals that form normal constituents of the living body.
Pharmacologists and biochemists have developed the habit of talking of the metabolism of drugs. For example, one man says that some "apparently normal individuals" have impaired ability to metabolize "certain chemical agents" and suggests that this may be due to "inherent defects in their cellular metabolism." Pharmacologists speak of the "concentration of the metabolite," meaning an end-product of drug metabolism. They speak of drug metabolites in the same way that physiologists speak of the metabolites that are the normal end-products of the metabolism of food. They also speak of the "capacity to metabolize the drugs," and of "drug-enzymes" that exist in the microsomes.
Some drugs are said to have "variable rates of metabolism" and it is said that "each person seems to have his own pattern of metabolism for these drugs" and that "the consequences of individual differences in drug metabolism are exaggerated in long-term therapy and may account for the variable time of onset for side effects." The pharmacologists have developed the habit of speaking of "drug-metabolizing enzymes" and of saying that "the importance of the drug-metabolizing enzymes in drug therapy is demonstrated by the prolonged action and high toxicity of many drugs in new-born infants, whose microsomal enzyme systems are not developed during their very early days of life." This simply means that because infants are "ill-equipped to metabolize drugs," they have less power to defend themselves than do adults.
It is becoming quite a habit among physicians and pharmacologists to talk learnedly of the metabolism of drugs when what they are talking about is not metabolism at all, but the mere chemical changes that drugs undergo in the organism as the body defends itself against them or prepares them for excretion. They speak not only of drug metabolites and of the body's capacity to metabolize drugs, just as though drugs were handled by the living organism in the same way as food is handled, but they speak of drugs that are slowly metabolized and of those that are quickly metabolized and of variability in the ability of different animals and of different individuals to metabolize drugs.