The "Old School" of medical science defines acute diseases as those which run a brief and more or less violent course and chronic diseases as those which run a protracted course and have a tendency to recur.
Nature Cure attaches a broader and more significant meaning to these terms. This will have become apparent from our discussion of the causes, the progressive development and the purpose of acute diseases in the preceding pages.
From the Nature Cure viewpoint, the chronic condition is the latent, constitutional disease encumbrance, whereas acute disease represents Nature's efforts to rectify abnormal conditions, to overcome and eliminate hereditary or acquired morbid taints and systemic poisons and to reestablish normal structure and functions.
To use an illustration: In a case of permanent or recurrent itchy psoriasis, the "Old School" physician would look upon the itchy skin eruption as the chronic disease, while we should see in the external eczema an attempt of the healing forces of Nature to remove from the system the inner, latent hereditary or acquired psora, which constitutes the real chronic disease.
It stands to reason that the exterior eruptions should not be suppressed by any means whatever, but that the only true and really effective method of treatment consists in eliminating from the organism the inner, latent psoric taint. After this is accomplished, the external "skin disease" will disappear of its own accord.
As another illustration of the radical difference in our respective points of view, let us take hemorrhoids (piles). The regular physician considers the local hemorrhoidal enlargements in themselves the chronic disease, while the Nature Cure practitioner looks upon hemorrhoids as Nature's effort to rid the system of certain morbid encumbrances and poisons which have accumulated as a result of sluggish circulation, chronic constipation, defective elimination through kidneys, lungs, and skin and from many other causes.
These constitutional abnormalities, which are the real chronic disease, have to be treated and corrected. After this has been done, the hemorrhoidal enlargements and discharges will take care of themselves.
It is, therefore, absolutely irrational, and frequently followed by the most serious consequences, to surgically remove the piles or to suppress the hemorrhoidal discharges and thereby to drive these concentrated poison extracts back into the system.
In a number of cases we have traced paralysis, insanity, tuberculosis, cancer and other forms of chronic destructive diseases to the forcible suppression of hemorrhoids.
Chronic disease, from the viewpoint of Nature Cure philosophy, means that the organism has become permeated with morbid matter and poisons to such an extent that it is no longer able to throw off these encumbrances by a vigorous, acute eliminative effort. The chronic condition, therefore, represents the slow, cold type of disease, characterized by feeble, ineffectual efforts to eliminate the latent morbid taints and impediments from the system. These efforts may take the form of open sores, skin eruptions, catarrhal discharges, chronic diarrhea, etc.
If acute diseases are treated in harmony with Nature's laws, they will leave the body in a purer, healthier condition. But if the treatment is wrong, if under the "Old School" methods fever and inflammation (Nature's methods of elimination) are checked and suppressed with poisonous drugs, serums and antitoxins or if, instead of purifying and invigorating cells and tissues, the affected parts and organs are removed with the surgeon's knife, Nature is not allowed to get rid of the disease matter, and the poisonous taints and morbid encumbrances remain in the organism.
In this way originate the worst forms of chronic diseases which now afflict civilized races.
The truth of this assertion is proved by the fact that chronic diseases we know are rare among the primitive peoples of the earth, such as the early indiginous people of Africa and Australia or the Eskimos of the arctic regions. They are not found among people who do not use drugs. All the different forms of venereal disease, chronic rheumatism, chronic indigestion, etc., are unknown in those countries whose inhabitants live in harmony with Nature. The reason is that these people have not learned to suppress Nature's acute purifying and healing efforts by poisonous drugs and surgical operations.
Let us now study the actual condition of the cells, tissues and organs of the body in chronic disease.
We know that the human body is made up of billions of minute cells of living protoplasm. Though these cells are so small that they have to be magnified under the microscope several hundred times before we can see them, they are independent living beings which are born, grow, eat, drink, throw off waste matter, multiply, decline and die just like the large conglomerate cell which we call Man.
Each one of these little cells has its own business to attend to, whether it be assimilation, elimination, nervous activities and functions, etc.
If these little beings are well individually, the man is well. If they are starved or ailing, the entire man is similarly affected. The whole depends upon the parts. In the human body as well as in a nation or a city, the welfare of the entire community depends upon the well-being of its individual members.
If governing bodies would realize and apply these truths, and pay more attention to providing wholesome surroundings and proper conditions of living for their subjects, to an adequate supply of pure food and a normal combination of work and rest, instead of concentrating their best efforts upon restrictive and punitive measures (allopathic treatment), there would be no social problems to solve.
It is our duty to provide the most favorable conditions of living for the little cells that make up the individual human organism. If we do that, there will be no occasion for disease. Natural immunity will be the result.
Herein lies the vital difference between the attitude of Nature Cure and that of the allopathic school toward disease. The latter spends all its efforts in fighting the disease symptoms, while the former confines itself to creating health conditions in the habits and surroundings of the patient, from the standpoint that the disease symptoms will then take care of themselves, that they will disappear on account of nonsupport. It is the application of the injunction "Resist not Evil" to the treatment of physical disease.
Under the influence of wrong habits of living and the suppressive treatment of diseases, all forms of waste and morbid matter (the feces of the cells), together with food, drink and drug poisons accumulate in the system, affect the cells and obstruct the tiny spaces (interstices) between them. These morbid encumbrances impinge upon and clog the blood vessels, the nerve channels and the other tissues of the body. This is bound to interfere with the normal functions of the organism, and in time lead to deterioration and organic destruction.
In this connection we wish to call attention to a difference in viewpoint between the school of osteopathy and the Nature Cure school. Osteopaths and chiropractors attribute disease almost entirely to "impingement" (abnormal pressure) upon nerves and blood vessels due to dislocations and subluxations of the vertebrae of the spine and of other bony structures. They do not take into consideration the impingement upon and obstruction of nerve channels and blood vessels all through the system caused by local or general encumbrances of the organism with waste matter, morbid products, and poisons that have accumulated in cells and tissues.
The Life of the Cell
Every individual cell must be supplied with food and with oxygen. These it receives from the red arterial blood. The cells must also be provided with an outlet for their waste products. This is furnished by the venous circulation, which represents the drainage system of the body. If this drainage is defective, the effect upon the organism is similar to the effect produced upon a house when the excretions and discharges of its inhabitants are allowed to remain in it.
Furthermore, every cell must be in unobstructed communication with the nerve currents of the organism. Most important of all, it must be in touch with the sympathetic nervous system through which it receives the Life Force which vivifies and controls all involuntary functions of the cells and organs in the human body.
Each individual cell must be supplied with nerve fibers which convey its sensations and needs to headquarters, the nerve centers in brain and spinal cord. Also, each cell must be connected with other nerve filaments which carry impulses from the cranial, spinal and sympathetic centers to the cell, governing and directing its activities.
For instance, if the cell be hungry, thirsty, cold or in pain, it telegraphs these sensations to headquarters in the brain or spinal cord and from there directions necessary to comply with the needs of the cell are sent forth in the form of nerve impulses to the centers controlling the circulation, the food and heat supply, the means of protection, etc.
This circuit of communication from the cell over the afferent nerves to the nerve centers in the brain or spinal cord, and from these centers over the efferent nerves back to the cell or to other cells is called the reflex arc.
Let us use an illustration: Suppose the fingers come in close contact with a hot iron. The cells in the finger tips experience a sensation of burning pain. At once this sensation is telegraphed over the afferent nerves to the nerve centers in the brain or spinal cord. In response to this call of distress the command comes back over the efferent nerve filaments: "Withdraw the fingers!" At the same time the impulse to withdraw the fingers is sent over the motor nerves to the muscles and ligaments which control the movements of the hand.
If the means of communication between the different parts of the organism are obstructed or cut off entirely, the individual cell is bound to deteriorate and to die, just like a person lost in a barren wilderness and cut off from his fellowmen must perish.
In warfare it is a well-known fact that if one of the contending armies succeeds in cutting off the telegraphic communication of the other army with its headquarters, the activities of that other army are seriously handicapped. So the waste materials in the system, the disease taints, narcotic and alcoholic poisons, etc., obstruct the nerve passages, and thus interfere with the functions of the cell by cutting off its means of communication.
What has been said will serve to elucidate and emphasize the necessity of perfect cleanliness, inside as well as outside of the body. It justifies the dictum of Kuhne, the apostle of Nature Cure: "Cleanliness is Health." Anything that in any way interferes with or obstructs the circulation of vital fluids and nerve currents in the system is bound to create the abnormal conditions and functions which constitute disease.
When the morbid encumbrances and obstructions in the organism have reached the point where they seriously interfere with the nourishment, drainage and nerve supply of the cells, the latter cannot perform their activities properly, nor can they rid themselves of the impediment. They may be compared to people who are forced to live in bad, unwholesome surroundings and who cannot do their best work under these unfavorable conditions from which they cannot escape.
In this way originates chronic disease, which means that the cells have become incapable of arousing themselves to acute eliminative effort in the form of inflammatory febrile reactions.
In my lectures I sometimes liken the cell thus encumbered with morbid matter and poisons to a man buried in a mine under the debris of a cave in such a manner that it is impossible for him to free himself of the earth and timbers which are pinning him down. In such a predicament the man is unable to help himself. His fellow workers or his friends must come to his aid and remove the obstructing masses until he can assist them and free himself.
This is a good illustration of the condition of the cells of the body in chronic disease. They also have become unable to help themselves and need assistance until they can once more arouse themselves to self-help by means of an acute eliminative effort.
What can we do to help them? We must endeavor in the flrst place to furnish the cells with the right nourishment. We must abstain from everything that may be injurious to the body in food and drink, so as to relieve the cells of all unnecessary work.
Whatever one may think of vegetarianism as a continuous mode of living, a little consideration will make it plain that a rational vegetarian diet is the sine qua non in the cure of chronic diseases. It builds up the blood on a normal basis, excludes all food and drink poisons and thereby gives the organism an opportunity to throw off the old accumulations of waste and morbid materials.
In chronic disease, every drop of blood and every cell of the organism is affected. In order to produce a cure, the old tissues must be broken down and removed and new tissues built up. The more thorough the change in diet, the greater and more rapid will be the changes for the better in cells and tissues, especially if only pure and eliminating foods are used.
For these reasons it is advisable to omit most red-blooded meat while under the natural treatment. All animal flesh contains the morbid secretions and other waste products of the animal organism, and this means additional work for the cells already overburdened with systemic poisons.
Then we must work for elimination. Cold water applied to the surface of the body is the most powerful stimulant to the circulation. It actually pumps and pushes the blood through the system. One feels the blood rushing through the arteries and veins with greater force.
The cold-water treatment makes the skin more alive and active, stirs up and accelerates the circulation throughout the system and thus promotes the elimination of systemic poisons through the skin.
This stimulating effect of cold water upon the organism has been proved by counting the number of red blood corpuscles in a drop of blood before and after the application of the cold "blitzguss." They were found to have doubled in number. That does not mean that in an instant again as many red blood corpuscles had come into existence, but it does mean that before the cold "guss" one-half of them were dozing lazily in the corners. The cold water stirred them up, forced them into the circulation, made them travel and attend to business.
Another powerful means to promote elimination is thorough, systematic massage. The kneading, rolling, twisting and clapping actually squeezes the stagnant morbid matter and the waste products out of the tissues into the circulation, to be carried off through the venous drainage and allows the red blood with its nourishment and fresh supply of oxygen to flood the cells and organs.
Massage is also very effective as a means of regulating the blood supply in the system. In every chronic disease there is obstruction or congestion in some part of the organism, causing high blood pressure in the interior of the body and insufficient blood supply to the external parts, especially the extremities. Massage distributes the blood quickly and evenly.
Of great importance is osteopathy. All dislocations, luxations and subluxations of bones and ligaments should be corrected by expert manipulation. As a matter of fact, hardly a person can be found today whose spine is not abnormal in one way or another, just as there is hardly a single normal human eye [as far as iridology markings are concerned].
Manipulative treatment adjusts the lesions of the spine and other bony structures, thus removing abnormal pressure upon the nerves and blood vessels and establishing a free and abundant flow of nerve and blood currents.
Air and light baths, by stimulating the skin in a natural manner to increased activity, also contribute to the attainment of the various good results just described.
Next comes physical exercise. Corrective and curative movements combined with deep breathing promote the combustion (oxidation) of morbid materials and in this way facilitate their elimination from the system.
Life itself is dependent upon breathing. The Life Force enters the body with every breath we draw. Show me a man with well-developed, full-breathing lungs, and I will show you a man with good vitality.
Last but not least among the natural methods of treating the cell in chronic disease we mention the right mental and emotional attitude. Fear, anxiety and all kindred emotions congeal the nerve matter and thereby shut off the supply of nerve force. The cells and tissues starve and freeze. On the other hand, the emotions of hope, confidence and cheerfulness relax and open blood vessels and nerve channels and allow the free and unobstructed inflow and circulation of vital energy.
The different methods of natural treatment and their practical application in chronic diseases will be discussed in detail in subsequent chapters.
When through natural methods of living and of treatment the morbid encumbrances have been removed sufficiently to provide and maintain normal blood supply, better venous drainage and the unobstructed flow of the nerve currents, when lesions of the bony structures have been corrected by skilful adjustment, and when, through right mental attitude, a free and abundant inflow of Life Force has been established, then the cells and tissues of the body become once again able to arouse themselves to an acute eliminative effort, and the organism is ready for a healing crisis.