By Ellis Barker J.
OF late years nature cure has come much to the fore in England, the United States and elsewhere. While Orthodox medicine has become more and more scientific, more and more devoted to procedures which, at least to the lay mind, seem unnatural, there has arisen a school which wishes to abandon scientific artificialities and go back to nature.
More than 2,300 years ago Hippocrates proclaimed nature as the curer of disease. The great healing powers of nature have been disregarded only too long. Sun and air, water and the right food, rest and exercise, baths and massage, were neglected for decades by doctors, who planned their faith on artificial treatments.
There are many doctors who have studied medicine and passed their examinations in the most modern procedures who have abandoned orthodox treatment in favour of nature cure. In the United States there are thousands of medical men who call themselves “drugless doctors”, who refuse to employ drugs and treat their patients exclusively with dieting and fasts, rest and exercise, etc., and many of these men have excellent results. Nature can indeed achieve miracles, but not infrequently nature requires assistance from the trained practitioner.
Nature can cure a fractured leg, but the limb may be distorted unusable unless the bones have been efficiently joined either by splints or by plates. The nature cure practitioner can easily obtain excellent results if the patient before him is ill owing to a faulty diet, insufficient exercise or overstrain, or some other obvious fault which can be corrected by natural means. But there are disorders and diseases which unassisted nature cannot cure. I remember the case of a man with a ghastly eruption.
He was enthusiastic about nature cure, and had undergone about forty fasts in the hope of curing his skin disease. The longest fast had lasted thirty days during which time he had lived on nothing but water. In addition he had had numerous fasts of two or three weeks or of two or three days.
As long as he was fasting there was improvement in the skin condition, and occasionally the eruption disappeared completely, but as soon as he started eating it returned, although he lived on a strict nature cure diet which had been prescribed by an excellent practitioner. For years and years he had tried in vain to find a cure by natural means, and his numerous fasts had gravely reduced his strength and general health, and with those his power of resistance to disease had, of course, greatly diminished.
If a disease such as a skin disease is due to an acquired or inherited infection, then nature cure may fail completely. Very frequently the skin disease is due to an infection by measles, scarlatina, or some other disease in early childhood, or to vaccination, or to an inherited factor such as Syphilis or Tuberculosis, etc. If it is due to any of these factors, appropriate measures may produce a rapid and brilliant cure.
A few doses of Morbillinum may cure inveterate skin disease due to an attack of measles decades ago. A few doses of Syphilinum may cure an eruption due to inherited syphilis. In all these cases one has to deal with the cause if one wishes to have good results.
The nature curers have stated their views with conviction, earnestness and great plausibility in many journals, articles and lectures, in which they have condemned the abuse of drugs. The abuse of drugs is certainly reprehensible. Dangerous drugs given in large quantities are often more harmful than the disease complained of. Only the other day I heard of a case where a child, suffering from Scarlatina, was by mistake given injections that were meant to be used for Diphtheria.
These injections produce lasting mischief. Mercury, Arsenic, Iodine, Quinine, Aspirin and many other drugs are often injudiciously prescribed. In consequence of the propaganda against the use of drugs, a large section of the public has come to the conviction that drugs in themselves are harmful. Numerous patients are afraid to take medicine prescribed by the doctors, even if the drugs are ordered by a good homoeopath.
The drugs given by homoeopathic prescribers are as a rule given in such small quantities that no harm can result. The orthodox doctor gives Sulphur in substantial quantities, and in many families a pinch of Sulphur is administered to children, especially in Spring. Most homoeopathic practitioners give Sulphur in very small quantities, and not infrequently the maximum quantity is a millionth of a grain. In that quantity Sulphur is of great value for numerous diseases in which that drug is called for.
Fasting is probably the most potent treatment of the nature curer. A strict and prolonged fast is extremely searching. The body, which is deprived of food, melts down the substance of the patient, but it does not do this indiscriminately. It singles out those parts of the body which are more or less useless. If an individual is fasting, the superfluous fat is melted down to keep the body alive. Diseases products of every kind are treated similarly, and impurities of every kind are eliminated from the body.
But in many cases of disease, such as cancer, enlarged prostate, fibroid tumours, etc., fasting has been of no benefit. It may do harm by reducing the natural power of resistance. Furthermore it occasionally happens that the fasting individual loses his appetite altogether. According to the current theory proclaimed by nature curers, fasting leads to the perfection of the body and to increase in health and strength. This is undoubtedly the case in many instances, but one encounters other cases where a prolonged fast has led to permanent physical deterioration. Discretion and discrimination are required by those who wish to apply nature cure to the sick and ailing.