Nature Cure: Chapter 14

Chapter XIV
The True Scope of Medicine

Anyone able to read the signs of the times cannot help observing the powerful influence which the Nature Cure philosophy is already exerting upon the trend of modern medical science. In Germany the younger generation of physicians has been forced by public demand to adopt the natural methods of treatment and the German government has introduced them in the medical departments of its army and navy.

  In English-speaking countries, the foremost members of the medical profession are beginning to talk straight Nature Cure doctrine, to condemn the use of drugs and to endorse unquaIifiedly the Nature Cure methods of treatment. In proof of this I quote from an article by Dr. William Osler in the Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. X, under the title of "Medicine":

Dr. Osler on Medicine

  "The new school does not feel itself under obligation to give any medicines whatever, while a generation ago not only could few physicians have held their practice unless they did, but few would have thought it safe or scientific. Of course, there are still many cases where the patient or the patient's friends must be humored by administering medicine or alleged medicine where it is not really needed, and indeed often where the buoyancy of mind which is the real curative agent, can only be created by making him wait hopefully for the expected action of medicine; and some physicians still cannot unlearn their old training. But the change is great. The modern treatment of disease relies very greatly on the old so-called natural methods, diet and exercise, bathing and massage--in other words, giving the natural forces the fullest scope by easy and thorough nutrition, increased flow of blood and removal of obstructions to the excretory systems or the circulation in the tissues.

  "One notable example is typhoid fever. At the outset of the nineteenth century it was treated with 'remedies' of the extremest violence--bleeding and blistering, vomiting and purging, and the administration of antimony and mercury, and plenty of other heroic remedies. Now the patient is bathed and nursed and carefully tended, but rarely given medicine. This is the result partly of the remarkable experiments of the Paris and Vienna schools in the action of drugs, which have shaken the stoutest faiths; and partly of the constant and reproachful object lesson of homeopathy. No regular physician would ever admit that the homeopathic preparations, 'infinitesimals,' could do any good as direct curative agents; and yet it was perfectly certain that homeopaths lost no more of their patients than others. There was but one conclusion to draw-- that most drugs had no effect whatever on the diseases for which they were administered."

  Dr. Osler is probably the greatest medical authority on drugs now living. He was formerly professor of materia medica at the Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, U. S., and now holds a professorship at Oxford University, England. His books on medical practice are in use in probably every university and medical school in English-speaking countries. His views on drugs and their real value as expressed in this article should be an eye-opener to those good people who believe that we of the Nature Cure school are altogether too radical, extreme, and somewhat cranky.

  However, what Dr. Osler says regarding the "New School" is true only of a few advanced members of the medical profession.

  On the rank and file, the idea of drugless healing has about the same effect as a red rag on a mad bull. There are still very few physicians in general practice today who would not lose their bread and butter if they attempted to practice drugless healing on their patients. Both the profession and the public will need a good deal more education along Nature Cure lines before they will see the light.

  In the second sentence of his article, Dr. Osler admits the efficacy of mental therapeutics and therapeutic faith as a "curative agent," and ascribes the good effects of medicine to their stimulating influence upon the patient's mind rather than to any beneficial action of the drugs themselves.

  With regard to the origin of the modern treatment of typhoid fever, however, the learned doctor is either misinformed or he misrepresents the facts. The credit for the introduction of hydropathic treatment of typhoid fever does not belong to the "remarkable experiments of the Paris and Vienna schools." These schools and the entire medical profession fought this treatment with might and main. For thirty years Priessnitz, Bilz, Ruhne, Father Kneipp and many other pioneers of Nature Cure were persecuted and prosecuted, dragged into the courts and tried on the charges of malpractice and manslaughter for using their sane and natural methods. Not until Dr. Braun of Berlin wrote an essay on the good results obtained by the hydropathic treatment of typhoid fever and it had in that way received orthodox baptism and sanction, was it adopted by advanced physicians all over the world.

  Through the Nature Cure treatment of typhoid fever, the mortality of this disease has been reduced from over fifty percent under the old drug treatment to less than five percent under the water treatment.

  But the average medical practitioner has not yet learned from the Nature Cure school, that the same simple fasting and cold water which cure typhoid fever so effectively, will just as surely and easily cure every other form of acute disease, as, for instance, scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox, cerebrospinal meningitis, appendicitis, etc. Therefore, we claim that there is no necessity for the employment of poisonous drugs, serums and antitoxins for this purpose.

  Referring to the last two sentences of Dr. Osler's article, homeopaths have, as a matter of fact, lost less patients than allopaths. The effect of homeopathic medicine, moreover, is not altogether negative, as Dr. Osler implies. The discovery of the minute cell as the basis of the human organism on the one hand and of the unlimited divisibility of matter on the other hand explains the rationality of the infinitesimal dose. Health and disease are resident in the cell; therefore, the homeopath doctors the cell, and the size of the dose has to be apportioned to the size of the patient.

  When Dr. Osler says that most drugs have no effect whatsoever, he makes a serious misstatement. While they may not contribute anything to the cure of the disease for which they are given, they are often very harmful in themselves.

  Almost every virulent poison known to man is found in allopathic prescriptions. It is now positively proved by the Diagnosis from the Eye that these poisons have a tendency to accumulate in the system, to concentrate in certain parts and organs for which they have a special affinity and then to cause continual irritation and actual destruction of tissues. By far the greater part of all chronic diseases are created or complicated on the one hand by the suppression of acute diseases by means of drug poisons, and on the other hand through the destructive effects of the drugs themselves.

  Dr. Schwenninger, the medical adviser of Prince Bismarck, and later of Richard Wagner, the great composer, has published a book entitled The Doctor. This work is the most scathing arraignment and condemnation of modern medical practice, especially of poisonous drugs and of surgery. Dr. Treves, the body physician of the late King Edward of England, is no less outspoken in his denunciation of drugging than Drs. Osler and Schwenninger.

  Just a few men like these, foremost in the medical profession, who have achieved financial and scientific independence, can afford to speak so frankly. The great majority of physicians, even though they know better, continue in the old ruts so as to be considered ethical and orthodox, and in order to hold their practice. It is not the medical profession that has brought about this reform in the treatment of typhoid fever and other diseases. They have been forced into the adoption of the more advanced natural methods through the pressure of the Nature Cure movement in Germany and elsewhere.

  Dr. Osler's statements, made with due deliberation in a contribution to the Encyclopedia Americana, are certainly a frank declaration as to the uselessness of drug treatment, and on the other hand, an unqualified endorsement of natural methods of healing.

  But it seems to me that Dr. Osler pours out the baby with the bath water, as we say in German. That is, I am inclined to think that his opinion regarding the ineffectiveness of drugs is entirely too radical. There is a legitimate scope for medicinal remedies insofar as they build up the blood on a natural basis and serve as tissue foods.

  Many people who have lost their faith in "Old School" methods of treatment have swung around to the other extreme of medical nihilism. In fact, Dr. Osler himself stands accused of being a medical nihilist.

  Many of those who have adopted natural methods of living and of treating diseases have acquired an actual horror of the word medicine. However, this extreme attitude is not justified.

  It also appears that some of the readers of my writings are under the impression that we of the Nature Cure school absolutely condemn the use of any and all medicines. This, however, is not so.

The Position of "Nature Cure" Regarding Medicinal Remedies

  We do condemn the use of drugs insofar as they are poisonous and destructive and insofar as they suppress acute diseases or healing crises, which are Nature's cleansing and healing efforts; but on the other hand we realize that there is a wide field for the helpful application of medicinal remedies insofar as they act as foods to the tissues of the body and as neutralizers and eliminators of waste and morbid materials.

  In every form of chronic disease there exists in the system, on the one hand, an excess of certain morbid materials, and on the other hand, a deficiency of certain mineral constituents, organic salts, which are essential to the normal functions of the body.

  Thus, in all anemic diseases the blood is lacking in iron, which picks up the oxygen in the air cells of the lungs and carries it into the tissues, and in sodium, which combines with the carbonic acid (coalgas) that is constantly being liberated in the system and conveys it to the organs of depuration, especially the lungs and the skin. In point of fact, oxygen starvation is due in a much greater degree to the deficiency of sodium and the consequential accumulation of carbonic acid in the system (carbonic acid asphyxiation) than to the lack of iron in the blood, as assumed by the regular school of medicine.

  Foods or medicinal remedies which will supply this deficiency of iron and sodium in the organism will tend to overcome the anemic conditions.

  The great range of uric acid diseases, such as rheumatism, calculi, arteriosclerosis, certain forms of diabetes and albuminuria, are due, on the one hand, to the excessive use of acid-producing foods, and on the other hand, to a deficiency in the blood of certain alkaline mineral elements, especially sodium, magnesium and potassium, whose office it is to neutralize and eliminate the acids which are created and liberated in the processes of starchy and protein digestion.

  In another chapter I have explained the origin and progressive development of uric-acid diseases. Our volume on Natural Dietetics will contain additional proof that practically all diseases are caused by, or complicated with, acid conditions in the system.
  Any foods or medicines which will provide the system with sufficient quantities of the acid-binding, alkaline mineral salts will prove to be good medicine for all forms of acid diseases.

  The mineral constituents necessary to the vital economy of the organism should, however, be supplied in the organic form. This will be explained more fully in subsequent pages.

  From what I have said, it becomes apparent that it is impossible to draw a sharp line of distinction between foods and medicines. All foods which serve the above-named purposes are good medicines, and all nonpoisonous herb extracts, homeopathic and vitochemical remedies that have the same effect upon the system are, for the same reason, good foods.

  The medical treatment of the Nature Cure school consists largely in the proper selection and combination of food materials. This must be so. It stands to reason that Nature has provided within the ranges of the natural foods all the elements which Man needs in the way of food and medicine.

  But it is quite possible that, through continued abuse, the digestive apparatus has become so weak and so abnormal that it cannot function properly, that it cannot absorb and assimilate from natural foods a sufficient quantity of the elements which the organism needs. In such cases it may be very helpful and indeed imperative to take the organic mineral salts in the forms of fruit, herb and vegetable juices, extracts or decoctions. Among the best of these food remedies are extracts of leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Scotch kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, etc. These vegetables are richer than any other foods in the positive mineral salts. The extract may be prepared from one or more of these vegetables, according to the supply on hand or the tolerance of the digestive organs and the taste and preference of the patient. They should be ground to a pulp in a vegetable grinder, then pressed out in a small fruit press, which can be secured in any department store. One or two teacups per day will be sufficient to supply the needs of the system for mineral salts. This extract should be prepared fresh every day.

  Then there are the Kneipp Herb Remedies. Most of these are the Hausmittel [home remedies] of the country population of Germany which have proved their efficacy since time immemorial. Their medicinal value lies in the organic mineral salts which they contain in large quantities and in beneficial combinations.

  The homeopathic medications, as will be explained at length in another chapter, produce their good results because they work in harmony with the Laws of Nature.

  We never hesitate, therefore, to prescribe for our patients homeopathic medicines, herb decoctions and extracts, and the vitochemical remedies which assist in the elimination of morbid matter from the system and in building up blood and lymph on a normal basis, that is, remedies which supply the organism with the mineral elements in which it is deficient in the organic, easily assimilable form. Herein lies the legitimate scope of medicinal remedies.

  All medicinal remedies which build up the system on a normal, natural basis and increase its fighting power against disease without in any way inflicting injury upon the organism are welcome to the adherents of the Nature Cure methods of treatment.

  On the other hand, we do not use any drugs or medicines which tend to hinder, check or suppress Nature's cleansing and regenerating processes. We never give anything in the least degree poisonous. We avoid all anodynes, hypnotics, sedatives, antipyretics, laxatives, cathartics, etc. Judicious fasting, cold-water applications and, if necessary, warm-water injections in case of constipation will do everything that is claimed for poisonous drugs.

Inorganic Minerals and Mineral Poisons

  For many years past, physicians of the different schools of medicine, diet experts and food chemists have been divided on the question whether or not mineral substances which in the organic form enter into the composition of the human body may safely be used in foods and medicines in the inorganic form.

  The medical profession holds almost unanimously that this is permissible and good practice, so that nearly every allopathic medical prescription contains some such inorganic substance, or worse than that, one or more virulent mineral poisons, as mercury, arsenic, phosphorus, etc.

  So far, the discussion about the usefulness or harmfulness of inorganic minerals as foods and medicines was largely theoretical and controversial. Neither party had positive proofs for its contentions.

  But Nature's records in the iris of the eye settle the question for good and for ever. One of the fundamental principles of the science of Diagnosis from the Eye is that "nothing shows in the iris by abnormal signs or discolorations except that which is abnormal in the body or injurious to it." When substances which are uncongenial or poisonous to the system accumulate in any part or organ of the body in sufficient quantities, they will indicate their presence by certain signs and abnormal colors in the corresponding areas of the iris.

  In this way Nature makes known by her records in the eye what substances are injurious to the body, and which are harmless.

  Certain mineral elements, such as iron, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, etc., which are among the important constituents of the human body, may be taken in the organic form in fruits and vegetables, or in herb extracts and the vitochemical remedies, in large amounts, in fact, far beyond the actual needs of the body, but they will not show in the iris of the eye, because they are easily eliminated from the system.

  If, however, the same minerals be taken in the inorganic form in considerable quantities, the iris will exhibit certain well-defined signs and discolorations in the areas corresponding to those parts of the body in which the mineral substances have accumulated.

  Obviously, Nature does not intend that these mineral elements should enter the organism in the inorganic form, and therefore the organs of depuration are not able to neutralize and eliminate them.

  Thus, for instance, any amount of iron may be taken in vegetable or herb extracts, or in the vitochemical remedies, but this will not be seen in the eye. Whatever is taken in excess of the needs of the body will be promptly eliminated.

  If, however, similar quantities of iron be taken for the same length of time in the inorganic, mineral form, the iron will accumulate in the tissues of stomach and bowels, and begin to show in the iris in the form of a rust brown discoloration in the corresponding areas of the digestive organs, directly around the pupil.

  In similar manner sodium, which is one of the most important mineral elements in the human body, if taken in the inorganic form, will show in a heavy, white rim along the outer edge of the iris. Sulphur will show in the form of yellowish discolorations in the area of stomach and bowels. Iodine in the medicinal, inorganic form, prepared from the ash of seaweeds, shows in the iris in well-defined bright red spots. Phosphorus appears in whitish streaks and clouds in the areas corresponding to the organs in which it has accumulated.

  An interesting exception to this rule is our common table salt (sodium chloride), which is an inorganic mineral combination. So far, diagnosticians from the eye have not discovered any sign in the iris for it. There seems to be something in its nature that makes it akin to organic substances or, like other inorganic minerals and their combinations, it would show in the iris.

  This might explain why salt is the only inorganic mineral substance which is extensively used as food by humanity in general. Also animals who, guided by their natural instincts, are the finest discriminators in the selection of foods and medicines, do not hesitate to take salt freely (salt licks) when they would not touch any other inorganic mineral.

  Nevertheless, we do not wish to encourage the excessive use of salt, either in the cooking of food or at the table. Taken in considerable quantities, it is undoubtedly injurious to the tissues of the body.

  Before the days of canned goods, scurvy was a common disease among mariners and other people who had to subsist for long periods of time on salted meats and were deprived of fresh vegetables. The disease manifested as a breaking down of the gums and other tissues of the body, accompanied by bleeding and much soreness. As soon as these people partook of fresh fruits and vegetables, the scurvy disappeared.

  The minerals contained in these organic salts foods furnished the building-stones which imparted tensile strength to the tissues and stopped the disintegration of the fleshy structures.

  The Nature Cure regimen aims to provide sodium chloride as well as the other mineral elements and salts required by the body in organic form in foods and medicines.

  When the use of inorganic minerals is discontinued and when the proper methods of eliminative treatment, dietetic and otherwise, are applied, these mineral substances are gradually dislodged and carried out of the system. Simultaneously with their elimination disappear their signs in the iris and the disease symptoms which their presence had created in the organism.

  In this connection it is a significant fact that those minerals which are congenial to the system, that is, those which in their organic form enter into the composition of the body, are much more easily eliminated if they have been taken in the inorganic form, than those substances which are naturally foreign and poisonous to the human organism, such as mercury, arsenic, iodine, the bromides, the different coal-tar preparations, etc.

  This is proved by the fact that the signs of the minerals which are normal constituents of the human body disappear from the iris of the eye much more quickly than the signs of those minerals which are foreign and naturally poisonous to the system.

  The difficulty we experience in eliminating mineral poisons from the body would seem to indicate that Nature never intended them to be used as foods or medicines. The intestines, kidneys, skin, mucous membranes and other organs of depuration are evidently not constructed or prepared to cope with inorganic, poisonous substances and to eliminate them completely. Accordingly, these poisons show the tendency to accumulate in certain parts or organs of the body for which they have a special affinity and then to act as irritants and destructive corrodents.

  The diseases which we find most difficult to cure, even by the most radical application of natural methods, are cases of drug-poisoning. Substances which are foreign to the human organism, and especially the inorganic, mineral poisons, positively destroy tissues and organs, and are much harder to eliminate from the system than the encumbrances of morbid materials and waste matter produced in the body by wrong habits of living only. The obvious reason for this is that our organs of elimination are intended and constructed to excrete only such waste products as are formed in the organism in the processes of metabolism.

  Tuberculosis or cancer may be caused in a scrofulous or psoriatic constitution by overloading the system with meat, coffee, alcohol or tobacco; but as soon as these bad habits are discontinued, and the organs of elimination stimulated by natural methods, the encumbrances will be eliminated, and the much-dreaded symptoms will subside and disappear, often with surprising rapidity.

  On the other hand, mercury, arsenic, quinine, strychnine, iodine, etc., accumulate in the brain, the spinal cord, and the cells and tissues of the vital organs, causing actual destruction and disintegration. The tissues thus affected are not easily rebuilt, and it is exceedingly difficult to stir up the destructive mineral poisons and to eliminate them from the system.

Therefore it is an indisputable fact that many of the most stubborn, so-called incurable diseases are drug diseases

The Importance of Natural Diet

  While certain medicinal remedies in organic form may be very useful in supplying quickly a deficiency of mineral elements in the system, we should aim to keep our bodies in a normal, healthy condition by proper food selection and combination. A brief description of the scientific basis of "Natural Dietetics" will be found in the chapter on Diet.

  Undoubtedly, Nature has supplied all the elements which the human organism needs in abundance and in the right proportions in the natural foods, otherwise she would be a very ignorant organizer and provider.

  We should learn to select and combine food materials in such a manner that they supply all the needs of the body in the best possible way and thus insure perfect health and strength without the use of medicines.

  Why should we attempt to cure anemia with inorganic iron, hyperacidity of the stomach with baking soda, swollen glands with iodine, the itch with sulphur, ricket conditions in infants with lime water, etc., when these mineral elements are contained in abundance and in live, organic form in fruits and vegetables, herbs and in the vitochemical remedies?

  Unfortunately, however, a great many individuals, through wrong habits of living and of treating their ailments, have ruined their digestive organs to such an extent that they are incapable of properly assimilating their food and require, at least temporarily, stimulative treatment by natural methods and a supply of the indispensable organic mineral salts through medicinal food preparations.

  In such cases the mineral elements must be provided in the most easily assimilable form in vegetable extracts (which should be prepared fresh every day), and in the vitochemical remedies.

  What has been said is sufficient, I believe, to justify the attitude of the Nature Cure school toward medicines in general. It explains why we avoid the use of inorganic minerals and poisonous substances, while on the other hand we find a wide and useful field for medicinal remedies in the form of blood and tissue foods.

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