Primitive peoples, as we know, believe disease represents the entry into the patient’s body of some evil spirit or entity—which was caused to enter it by some malevolent voodoo man or witch doctor. The unfortunate victim remains so afflicted until he rights a wrong, appeases the witch doctor, or secures the services of another whose “magic” is more powerful than that of the original spell-caster. When once this “evil spirit” has been removed, he is well and strong again; if he fails in this, he dies!
Strange as it may seem, a modified form of this same belief underlies public thinking and constitutes a basic belief of many physicians. True, we no longer believe that an “evil spirit” has entered into the body of a sick person, but it survives in the form of thinking that disease is an “entity” of some sort which is caught and which can be driven out or expelled by suitable medicines— something in a bottle! When this entity has been expelled, the patient is “cured.” Such is the popular conception…
Disease: A Phase of the Healing Process
As opposed to this, the Hygienist believes that so-called “diseases” represent merely the bodily states or conditions, nearly always self-caused which are manifested in a series of symptoms, but which are in themselves the very processes of “cure.” As Dr. Emmet Densmore stated, in his book How Nature Cures:
The hygienic system teaches that disease is a remedial effort, a struggle of the vital powers to purify the system and recover the normal state. This effort should be aided, directed and regulated, if need be, but never suppressed… What is this mysterious thing called disease? Simply an effort to remove obstructing material from the organic domain, and to repair damages. Disease is a process of purification. It is a remedial action. It is a vital struggle to overcome obstructions and to keep the channels of circulation free…
Precisely the same idea was expressed by Miss Florence Nightingale, in her Notes on Nursing, when she said:
Shall we begin by taking it as a general principle that all disease, at some period or other of its course, is more or less a reparative process, not necessarily accompanied by suffering; an effort of nature to remedy a process of poisoning or decay, which has taken place weeks, months, sometimes years beforehand, unnoticed—the termination of the disease being then determined?
So-called disease is, therefore, in the vast majority of cases, merely a curative effort on the part of Nature; it is the process of cure itself—manifested in a set of symptoms. Attempting to “cure” a disease, in the ordinary sense of the word, leads us to a ridiculous paradox: viz., an attempt to “cure” a “curing” process! The disease IS the “cure.” The outward manifestations, the symptoms we notice, represent merely the outward and visible signs of this curative process in action.
Any attempt to deal with or smother these symptoms merely retards the process of cure to that extent. Instead of treating symptoms, we should aim at the disease itself—or rather at the causes of the so-called disease. These are really the dangerous factors involved, and those which have brought about the abnormal conditions noted. Once we have removed these causes, the disease (so-called) disappears, and the symptoms vanish. The patient is then restored to health.
Viewed in this light, everything becomes simple! Toxins and waste material of all kinds accumulate in the body, over a period of weeks, months or years—finally reaching the point when they must be expelled or deterioration sets in. This violent expulsive effort on the part of nature produces a series of characteristic symptoms. The body attempts in every way possible to expel these poisonous substances— through the bowels, the kidneys, the skin, the lungs, etc.—with the result that these organs are overtaxed and break down under the load. Clogging and toxemia then set in more seriously than ever, and the patient is really ill.
Obviously, the only way to relieve this condition is to stop adding to the waste material the body must eliminate, and assist it in every way possible to dispose of what is already there. Once the body is given a chance to “catch up,” so to say, and cleanse itself to some extent, the violence of the internal upheaval will subside, and as this becomes more normal, the external symptoms will lessen and the patient is then said to be “convalescent.” If this process continues, he ultimately becomes “cured.”
I have used all these terms in a loose sense, because hygienists believe that the so-called “disease” is itself the process of “cure”—as we have seen. What we really mean is that certain causes have been removed, and as they are removed the effects disappear… What are these causes, and how are they removed?
The human body is creating certain poisons within itself by the very process of living. If these poisons were not constantly being excreted we should die. Normally, they are disposed of through the various eliminating organs—the bowels, kidneys, skin, etc. If this balance is maintained, the person remains well. If, however, the poisons accumulate more rapidly than they can be disposed of, abnormal conditions develop. These conditions are the so-called “diseases.”
Now, it should be obvious that the speediest way to regain health, when this condition develops, is to stimulate the eliminating organs, and at the same time introduce no new poisons into the system. The former is accomplished by means of exercise, bathing, water-drinking, etc. But it is highly important to prevent the entrance into the body of material which might further clog and block it. The material is our food, and obviously so; for, aside from air and water, this is the only material we ever introduce into our bodies, under normal conditions.
The necessity of fasting in times of stress thus becomes evident. Food supplies us with essential nutriment, it is true; but if the body is in no condition properly to utilize this food, it merely decomposes, creates poisons and is pushed through the body without really benefiting it. The thing to do, therefore, is to withhold food, so long as this abnormal state lasts, thereby giving the eliminating organs a chance to dispose of the surplus material already on hand, and at the same time rest the internal organs, permitting them to accumulate a certain store of vital energy, which would otherwise be expended in the handling and disposal of this extra mass of food-material.
The system thus becomes cleansed and purified. It is the simplest and most effective means known to us—and is the course prescribed by nature when she deprives us, at such times, of our normal appetite.
All Diseases Toxemic In Origin
Practically all diseases thus have a common basis and a common origin. There is a unity and oneness of disease, based on a common denominator. This, in a word, is toxemia. The differing diseases, so-called, are but the various means by which nature tries to expel this poisonous material; and the symptoms noted are the outward and visible signs of such curative action. Naturally developed inherent healing powers alone “cure”—whether it be a cut finger, a broken bone or a so-called “disease.”
All that the physician can do is to assist Nature in this remedial effort. Anything which tends to reduce symptoms merely prolongs the effort to that extent. Give Nature a chance, and she will heal in every case. A “cure” will invariably follow—whenever such “cure” is at all possible.
Most drugs so destroy vitality that body efforts as evidenced by symptoms are stopped. Pain is a warning signal—calling attention to a certain local area which is in dire distress. But this condition is merely a localized manifestation of a general condition. As Dr. Samuel Dickson remarked: “Properly speaking, there never was a purely local disease.” Rectify the general body condition, and the local manifestation will disappear. No matter what they may be or where located, they will vanish when the body as a whole is normal.
Drugs do not act upon the body; they are acted upon by the body. The action we perceive is the reaction of the body against the drug. It is the effort on the part of Nature to expel the poison introduced into the living organism… Much the same is true of stimulants. These seem to impart “strength” to the body; but as we know, this is a false strength, denoting merely the waste of the vital energies.
If you dig your spur into a tired horse, it will run faster to the corner; but no one thinks that the spur has supplied the horse with fresh energy. It has simply caused the poor animal to expend its reserve energies more quickly. It is the same with stimulants. The false feeling of strength which they impart is fictitious. The same is true of many drugs; and the same is true of food, which also acts as a stimulant, giving us a false feeling of strength when a meal is eaten! It is because of this fact that many people feel “weak” when food is withheld.
The simple, basic idea back of the hygienic system is that practically all “diseases,” so-called, are but the varied manifestations of a single underlying cause; and that, when this cause is removed, the symptoms automatically vanish. This cause is toxemia: waste materials and foreign poisons in the body.