ORTHODOX MEDICINE v. NATURE CURE.
Closely allied to the art of manipulation is therapeutic rubbing, which is one of the most ancient forms of treatment. Homer in his Odyssey describes the heroes on their return from battle being rubbed and kneaded by their womenfolk, and all the old civilizations, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Turkish, considered rubbing to be a necessary accompaniment to their ablutions.
To- day it is practised under the name of massage, and consists in stroking, kneading, rubbing and tapping the naked body with the hands (wet or dry). The immediate effects are an increase of fresh blood to the parts, dispersion of collections of serous fluid and acid waste products, general acceleration of the blood and lymph circulation, and heightening of nervous tone.
Rubbing immensely benefits all conditions where it is desirable to increase the speed of the circulation, and is contraindicated where it is not desirable to do so, such as in cases of fevers, acute inflammations and arterial and venous disease. It is excellent treatment for all forms of rheumatism, nervous disorders, headache, anaemia, wasted muscles, paralysis, sprains, stiff joints, etc.
The use of tap water is just as effective as any of the expensive oils and lotions that are on the market; and the period of activity should last at least half an hour. Many people put in a spell of self-rubbing every day as a health measure.
The value of regular bodily rubbing during a fast is so striking as to deserve specially note. Not only does it conduce to an early successful outcome of the treatment, but it adds considerably to the comfort of the fasting person. Ordinarily fasting is accompanied by weariness, chilliness and depression, and often by abdominal discomfort, headache, sore throat and other miseries, on account of the sudden discharge of loads of toxins into the bloodstream.
The rubbing process scatters these poisons and assists in their better elimination, and banishes depression and weakness by quickening the circulation and stimulating the nervous system. Persons who get themselves well massaged each day during a fast are able to go about their ordinary business with the minimum of inconvenience and without showing much sign of their abstinence from food not unimportant considerations.
As a rule nature cure eschews the use of drugs. It is implicit in the idea of the body being a self-cleansing and self- regulating organism that drugs are unnecessary, and the successful drugless treatment of every disease would at least indicate their redundancy. In modern scientific medicine drug administration is a shocking evil, as drugs are never free from toxic effects and are apt to suppress and divert symptoms and worsen the general condition.
Diseases such as anaemia, rheumatic fever, pneumonia, etc., are comparatively simple diseases to treat and cure by natural methods, but after having been complicated by drug treatment at the hands of an orthodox medico they, or rather their victims, are often rendered incurable. Most of the newer and grosser pathologies including neurosyphilis, agranulocytic angina, purpura haemorrhagica, sub-acute combined degeneration of the cord, encephalitis lethargica and certain forms of blindness and deafness have been traced to drugging and other scientific medical attentions.
The homoeopathic administration of drugs does not have the same serious disadvantages. In homoeopathic practice we get a safe use of drugs. The amount of the drug which is given is generally very small and, therefore, atoxic; and the vital stimulation it causes acts parallel and in the same direction, as the disease itself.
For example a homoeopathic doctor usually gives Belladonna in the classic type of scarlet fever. The dose of the drug will be one thousandth of a grain or less, which is toxicologically inactive; and the drug is chosen because a toxico-logically active amount of it will cause the same symptoms as scarlet fever; indeed, the two conditions, belladonna poisoning and scarlet fever may be indistinguishable.
The homoeopathic use of Belladonna as of all other drugs, therefore, is fixed and unaltered. Just as over a hundred years ago Hahnemann, the discover of the “Law of Similars” used it in scarlet fever cases, so it is used to-day and will be in the future as long as this fever appears. By contrast, in the orthodox British Pharmacopoeia not one drug can be sure of its place in treatment for even ten years. Round the regular medico the landscape of drugs and treatments is constantly changing, leaving him bewildered.
It is frequently urged against homoeopathy that the doses given, especially the high potencies, are too small to have any effect. Modern researches in the action of colloids can be brought forward to rebut that assertion. It has been conclusively shown that the chemical affinity of a substance is increased only when its mass is reduced to impalpable powder. Research has also shown that pronounced effects are given by amazingly attenuated dilutions of substances, such as thyroxin, pituitrin, histamine, cobra venom, and others.
From the clinical end also there is no lack of evidence about the effect of infinitesimals. Skin diseases which years previously had been suppressed and “cured” often erupt again in patients after a high potency of a drug has been administered. In an explanation of homoeopathy before the Royal Society of Medicine in July, 1932, Sir John Weir said:.
“And our personal experience of some twenty years is, that it is from the highest potencies (provided that the remedy is correct) that we get the most alarming aggravations; so much so that we dare not employ them in advanced disease, with much destruction of tissue. For instance, in advanced phthisis, a very high potency of Phosphorus, in establishing too severe a reaction, may determine a fatal haemorrhage.”.
All the clinical records of homoeopathy have been built up by fully qualified doctors who forsook orthodoxy, and a perusal of them alone leaves no room for doubting that homoeopathic doses of drugs do cause reactions even though it is not yet possible to explain how these reactions are brought about.
The most serious criticism against homoeopathy is really a criticism of its practitioners, who, as mentioned already, for the most part are registered doctors. Many of them severely suffer from the defects of their allopathic training and are inclined to regard homoeopathic medicine as the last word in the art of healing. Every disease is a toxaemia and, as such, is inextricably bound up with faulty feeding, constipation, loss of sleep, mental strain, etc., and until the factor or factors responsible are dealt with, no real recovery is possible.
All that a homoeopathic drug does is to provide in a scientific manner a stimulation similar to the disease symptoms, and since the disease symptoms are really a physiological impulse of recovery, that impulse is strengthened by the similar stimulation. Privy Councillor Professor August Bier, the famous Berlin surgeon and homoeopath, approximated the truth when he wrote:
“Very few diseases are cured by the direct action of a remedy: the latter only augments the natural healing reaction of the diseased organ”.
This type of medication, therefore, has a limited scope of usefulness. It does not prevent the recurrence of the disease nor the subsequent appearance of a worse one, for these events are related to etiological factors which it cannot be expected in influence. When properly administered, however, homoeopathic medicine takes its place as a weapon in the armamentarium of natural healing and specially valuable in emergencies and in deep seated disease conditions. Even Dr. Henry Lindlahr who might be styled the founder of modern nature cure occasionally made use of it.
Mental healing is a convenient term to describe an important facet of nature cure philosophy. It is a matter of commonplace observation that depression, anxiety and grief are often the exciting causes of physical breakdowns, and it will not be doubted that morbid fears about ones illness serve to intensify it and retard recovery.
Moods and states of consciousness, to happen at all, must comprise molecular changes in the nervous tissue of the brain. The nervous system as a whole, however, is so intimately interconnected that no mental sensation can occur without it being instantly transmitted to every part of the body; and since nerves preside over the well being of every organ it follows that all the organs are affected perceptibly or imperceptibly by each new sensation.
So far as the grosser type of mental sensations is concerned there is no lack of evidence to show that such is the case. Pallor, blushing, trembling, weakness, palpitation, rise or fall of blood pressure, decreased sensibility to pain, spasm of the coronary arteries, etc., are all at times immediate physical evidence of different states of the mental life.
Depressions and anxiety states do not show any marked physical signs; nevertheless, there is strong reason to suspect that they cause definite hormonal changes and lower the defense mechanism of the body against toxins. Occasionally, and especially in neurotic subjects their effects may be very serious. For such conditions the popular remedy always has been alcohol, and it may be the lesser of two evils.
It is a remedy, however, which if persisted in carries its own pains and penalties. The real remedy is a sufficient breadth of mind and education to take philosophically most of lifes troubles.
Just as depression and other psychoses lower the health and make us more liable to disease, so cheerfulness and equanimity increase the degree of health and heightens resistance to disease. The particular detoxicating forces which are evoked are probably increased nervous energy and favourable hormone secretions. These vital influences should never be overlooked in the treatment of disease, and it is the duty of the physician to heal the mind first so that its healthiness can react on the body.
But there are more advanced and esoteric planes of mental healing. A sudden eruption of emotion generated through spiritual contemplations or charged with the belief that one is about to be cured, or actually is cured, seems to be sufficient in many cases to establish astounding cures. So hard-headed and materialistic an authority on scientific medicine as Dr. Alexis Carrel, the Nobel prize winner and research worker at the Rockefeller Institute, in his book Man, The Unknown, wrote:.
“Our present conception of the influence of prayer upon pathological lesions is based upon the observation of patients who have been cured almost instantaneously of various affections, such as peritoneal tuberculosis, cold abscesses, osteitis, suppurating wounds, lupus, cancer, etc. The process of healing changes little from one individual to another. Often, an acute pain.
Then a sudden sensation of being cured. In a few seconds, a few minutes, at the most a few hours, wounds are cicatrized, pathological symptoms disappear, appetite returns. Sometimes functional disorders vanish before the anatomical lesions are repaired. The only condition indispensable to the occurrence of the phenomenon is prayer. But there is no need for the patient himself to pray, or even to have any religious faith. It is sufficient that some around him be in a state of prayer.”.
It may perhaps be doubted if the average mortal is capable of losing himself in raptures and ecstasies contemplating abstractions so as to secure the results cited by Carrel. Such amazing occurrences, however, even though rare, serve to remind us that not only are the mind and body a unity, but also that the mind possesses extra-ordinary powers in relation to health and disease. That the source, development and mode of action of these forces are completely unknown should stimulate intensive investigations, for such phenomena limit very much further our ideas about incurability.
All the foregoing treatments represent what is best in nature cure practice of to-day. Much more could be said about most of them, but in a concise summary such as this is intended to be only the outlines of them could be ventured on. They are all based on the simple and sensible theory that our diseases come from inside ourselves, and that, when the required changes are made in our methods of eating, drinking, thinking, and living generally, our diseases both mental and physical disappear.
The motto “Heal Thyself” is, therefore, of practical importance to each one of us, for the ultimate goal of nature cure is that everyone should be sufficiently versed in its principles to be able on most occasions to be independent of its practitioners. So rapidly has nature cure grown in popularity in recent years that it is now beyond doubt that it will be the public and private therapy by the end of the century; and future generations will look back in amazement at the lunacies and barbarities that the enlightened people of this era humbly accepted as scientific medicine.
For some time now the writing has been on the wall and is being read and understood by an increasing number at the top of the orthodox medical profession. J. E. R. McDonagh, F.R.C.S., neatly summarized the matter in his Nature of Disease Journal, Vol. III, 1934, when he wrote:.
“Calling modern medicine scientific does not make it any different from what it really is. Medicine was born of magic, it has evolved from magic, and it will go the way of all products of magic. Medicine is undergoing such steadily increasing disintegration as to make it certain that the time must come when what at present holds together will undergo complete disintegration”.
No further vindication of nature cure practice is required.