[I am afraid the eminent countryman of the celebrated Dr. Axel Munthe has far too high an opinion of me. – EDITOR, “HEAL THYSELF”].
THE most interesting times in history are undoubtedly the great transition periods when humanity takes stock of its mental, moral and physical assets, reconsiders the principles upon which it has built its life and lays the foundation for new developments. The time of the great philosophers of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. will perhaps for ever remain unsurpassed as the ideal example of such a period.
Though two thousand four hundred years have elapsed since the golden age of Greece, almost every branch of science still recognizes the great thinkers of those days as its pioneers. Their main characteristics seem to have been an extraordinary freedom from tradition combined with an unsurpassed analytic and synthetic faculty.
By the former, the various phenomena in the melee of events we call “life” were sifted out and kept apart form each other in order to be thoroughly scrutinized, classified, and re-combined by the synthetic faculty into new constructions of thoughts and ideas in which humanity could arrange for itself a new home, and from where it could launch upon new adventures.
The Greeks possessed these two faculties, the analytic and the synthetic, in an unusually happy combination to a very high degree. Hence their unsurpassed achievements.
The centuries that followed seem like a desert. Humanity slipped back from the Olympian heights of the fifth, fourth, and third centuries B.C. into the morass of muddled thinking, characterized by a hopeless inability to find the way through the bogs of old traditions, obviously in a constant state of putrescent decay.
This state of affairs lasted for nearly two thousand years. With the sixteenth century came the dawn of a new era inaugurated by men of genius in almost all branches of life who combined with a remarkable freedom from tradition a high degree of analytic and synthetic powers.
It was now that Paracelsus started his campaign against the school-medicine of his time which had remained stagnant for over one thousand six hundred years. He went roaming about over a great part of Europe to learn all that he could. “In so doing,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “he was one of the first physicians of modern times to profit by a mode of study which is now reckoned indispensable. The book of Nature, he affirmed, is that which the physician must read, and to do so he must walk over the leaves.”.
“Whence have I all my secrets-out of what writers and authors?” he exclaims. “Ask rather how the beasts have learned their arts. If Nature can instruct irrational animals, can it not much more men?”.
In 1526, he was appointed town physician, and shortly afterwards Professor of Medicine in the University of Basel.
“Unfortunately for him,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “the lectures broke away from traditions. They were in German, not in Latin; they were expositions of his own experience, of his own views, of his own methods of curing, adapted to the diseases that afflicted the Germans in the year 1527, and they were not commentaries on the text of Galen or Avicenna.
They attacked, not only these great authorities, but the German graduates who followed them and disputed about them in 1527. They criticized in no measured terms the current medicine of the time, and exposed the practical ignorance, the pomposity, and the greed of those who practised it. The truth of Paracelsus doctrines was apparently confirmed by his success in curing or mitigating diseases for which the regular physicians could do nothing.”
Paracelsus was a forerunner. He started a campaign which had gone on, gradually gathering momentum ever since. His greatest epigon was his compatriot, the famous Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann, born the 10th of April 1755 in Meissen and died in Paris the 2nd of July 1843.
A medical iconoclast like Paracelsus he far surpassed him as a physician. What Paracelsus aimed at but never was able to attain Hahnemann accomplished. Since the days of Hippocrates the world had not seen a greater healer. For all times he laid the only foundation upon which a real art of healing could be built.
Nearly a hundred years have elapsed since Hahnemann died. Like a mental wedge, driven with irresistible force, his methods and views have gradually penetrated the walls of the orthodox medical fortress, forcing the defenders to retire from one position to another, until at present their innermost stronghold seems on the verge of collapse.
No writer and medical research worker of modern times has carried on this campaign with a more thorough knowledge of his subject and penetrating intellect than J. Ellis Barker. Among the pioneers of the new art of healing, inaugurated by Paracelsus and founded by Hahnemann, I should without hesitation assign to him the third place.
Having been a student of medicine for a life-time, I came across one of his works: Chronic Constipation, the most insidious and the most deadly of Diseases. This was some years ago. After reading only a few pages I turned to a friend saying: “Here we have got at last a medical writer endowed with the highest abilities. He strikes me as a first-class analyst and synthesist-undoubtedly a genius.”.
I have since then read Ellis Barkers books one by one, some of them many times. They have, each one, only confirmed my opinion.
Of all the human faculties, that of memorizing, seems the most widespread and commonplace, whilst those of analyzing and especially of synthesizing are not only rare but very little developed. Unfortunately almost the whole of our university training and learning seems to depend on memory alone which is consequently well developed, whilst the other two faculties are not only left behind but very little wanted. Memory is conservative and tends, therefore, to make learning and science reactionary, whilst the analytic and synthetic faculties by their very nature are questioning, revolutionary and rebuilding, i.e. anti-traditional and visionary.
Ellis Barkers first health book, Cancer, came as a revelation to every reader, no matter of what standing and learning. It contained a wealth of information gathered from thousands of leading textbooks, treatises, medical journals and relevant works in other parts of life, carefully sifted, analysed and synthesized, or re-combined in a way which at once revealed the superior mental powers of the author.
Sir Arbuthnot Lanes verdict in his introduction, written with so much understanding and frankness, will in all probability constitute the opinion of future generations:.
“I know of nothing similar in medical literature, and I should not be surprised at all if professional and non-professional opinion would declare Mr. Barkers book to be easily the most important practical work on cancer existing in English or in any other language. Mr. Barker has shown us the way how to conquer cancer. Let us listen attentively to what he has to say, and let us support him with the utmost energy and enthusiasm. Thus we shall stay the plague which at present in desolating the world.”.
One of the striking features of Ellis Barkers first Cancer book is that the facts it contains have all been available to any researcher for more than a quarter of a century. They were all there, lying in readiness and waiting for someone to come and pick them up and put them in their natural setting-like the stones of a broken mosaic, or the grains of radium in tons of aluminium dust.
But nobody saw them-and least of all the members of the medical profession whose training in memorizing seem to have dwarfed most of their critical and visionary faculties, and whose medical school traditions make them “stick to their prejudices like limpets to a rock.”.
In scouring the medical horizon for facts that might elucidate the cancer enigma Ellis Barker thus produced a volume, the principles of which, if put into practice, would stamp out this terrible scourge for ever.
Some of the leading surgeons in several countries at once recognized the great value of Ellis Barkers book and paid it their tribute. But the rank and file became bewildered, and lost, in reading his book, all their traditional professional bearings. The author was attacked by medical snippers and venomous snakes of the lowest kinds. In answer to those attacks Ellis Barker published another volume: Cancer, the Surgeon and the Researcher, one of the most brilliant medical works ever written.
These two volumes represent more than a lifes task. Still, in the meantime the writer had found time to publish two other volumes: Good Health and Happiness and Chronic Constipation, both written with same remarkable powers of research and vision. I should like to describe these four volumes as the most formidable quadrangle of cornerstones ever laid for the erection of the “Temple of Health” to come.
By these four works Ellis Barker had already acquired for himself a professors chair in the greatest of all universities – that of Mankind as a whole, regardless of language and nationality, where only those are appointed teachers whose contribution to the progress of humanity are recognized by the generations of the future, and where their voices will be heard throughout the ages.
It is true that everyone of the four works mentioned strikes a superficial examiner as only compilation works where hundreds of authors are quoted more or less extensively. In reality, however, each of them is essentially individual, expressing the opinion of a researcher who has found the truth through his own efforts and in h is own way, only utilizing a small number of the many thousand volumes he has perused, as milestones on his road of research.
What was brought so forcibly to my mind when reading Ellis Barkers four first health books was not only his fabulous power of reading, analysing and compiling, but above all his remarkable synthetic gifts. I recognized a great physician in the making, and was looking forward to works to come in which he would quote- not from works on healing by others but from his own Case Book.
Miracles of Healing, undoubtedly the best popular book ever written on Homoeopathy, appeared as a prelude or introduction. When it was published Ellis Barkers portfolios were already filled to the brim with leaves containing cases of his own.
In New Lives for Old, with the sub-title How to Cure the Incurable, he opens for the first time his own case books.
I do not think I am exaggerating or making any overstatement when saying that since the days of Hahnemann no more important work on healing has ever been published.
Its greatest novelty lies in its absolute frankness and wealth of information which an ordinary doctor would feel naturally inclined to withhold from his colleagues and patients. Ellis Barker publishes accounts of his failures as well as his successes. Nothing is withheld. All the cards are laid on the table.
When a patient whom he has successfully cured of many years of illness asks him with beaming, grateful eyes: “Please, tell me now from which disease I have been suffering,” Ellis Barker answers: “I have not the slightest idea. I have only treated you according to the symptoms revealed.” How different from the orthodox way of treating disease, where the naming of the disease seems to be regarded as the essential thing and a great achievement-even if no cure is effected.
“One does not treat an abstraction, called a disease, but a human being according to his or her individual needs,” says Ellis Barker. And he adds: “I have not yet come across an incurable disease, but I have certainly met incurable patients.”.
“The fact that you told her some months ago that she could cure herself and that you would help her do so has made her look upon her own powers in a higher way,” writes the husband of a wife whom Ellis Barker cured of Disseminated sclerosis, “the latest fancy name of the doctors for creeping paralysis.”.
Ellis Barker wants and demands the collaboration of his patients. A cure is the result of a co-operation between the patient and his or her physician. Only in this sense are there no incurable diseases-but incurable patients. Where this co- operation fails, failure is the result as is shown by many instances in this interesting book, certainly one of the most revolutionary ever written in medicine.
It is as interesting as a novel, with th is great difference that every leaf of it is taken from the Book of Nature, conceived not by the imagination of a writer, but written by a physician who has truly followed the precepts of his great predecessor: a physician must “walk over its leaves.”.
Ellis Barker “walks over the leaves ” in Paracelsus sense. He discards the Latin of the Medical Profession, still prevalent to- day in their jealously guarded professional secrets and mystifying disease-names. His whole book is a single exposure from beginning to end of the practical ignorance and pomposity of his adversaries.
What he writes about is his own experience, his own views, and methods of curing. It is life itself with its many tragedies, joys and sorrows that passes review on those pages. Or what can be more charming than the account of a cure, effected in the country on a Sunday afternoon without any medicine but some garden herbs, by this physician of his own making.
“In 1932 I was staying at a village in Sussex. There was a smith, a Mr. T., whom I knew slightly, and I was struck by his looking very ill, deeply jaundiced and anxious. I asked: What is the matter with you?”.
Then follows a description of the trouble.
“It was Sunday. The chemists shop was closed. I had no medicines with me. I went to the garden, collected a large basket of parsley, told his wife to chop it up, fill a tea-pot almost to the brim, pour boiling water on it, let it draw for ten minutes or so, and that he was to drink it all day long. I then set out for an all-day walk. Ten hours after I called on Mr. T.” The trouble was over and the poor smith felt “much happier”.
“A true physician must walk over the leaves of the book of Nature!”.
Here another leaf:.
“Some years ago a naval officer bearing a historic name told me over the telephone: My wife is suffering from an inflamed mastoid and has terrible pain. She would like to avoid an operation. What do you advise? I replied: Bring her along in your car as quickly as you can.”.
“The telephone call came in the afternoon. I asked my secretary to get tea ready and put on the tea table Belladonna 3x, an excellent remedy for inflammation in general, and Capsicum 3x, which is a specific for mastoid inflammation. The pair arrived. The husband was nervy. The wifes face was distorted with pain. I asked them to sit down and take tea and gave the lady a dose of Belladonna.
Ten minute later I gave her a dose of Capsicum. After a further ten minutes she had another dose of Belladonna, followed ten minutes later by a second dose of Capsicum. Meanwhile half an hour had gone by and we had talked with animation about operations, and various other things.
I had observed that the expression of Mrs. C.S. had changed, and I asked: How is the pain? With wide open eyes the lady exclaimed: It has gone, completely gone! It is marvellous! The pair stayed a little longer and went back to their car with two bottles boxes of pilules, one containing Belladonna and the other Capsicum, with instructions to take doses alternatively at lengthening intervals. There was no further trouble.”.
Truly, upon Ellis Barker as a physician can be applied the same verdict as posterity has pronounced on Paracelsus:.
“the truth of his doctrines was apparently confirmed by his success in curing or mitigating diseases for which the regular physicians could do nothing”.