Medicine & Hygiene Contrasted
By: Herbert M. Shelton 1968
One of two things is true. The drug
system is either right or wrong. If
right, the Hygienic System is wrong.
The issue is plain. There is no
middle ground. The two systems
are essentially antagonistic; they cannot
coexist. They admit of no compromise.
One must destroy the other or be destroyed
All attempts that have been made to teach both systems in the same school
have been, as Dr. Russell T. Trall, M.D. pointed out, "unmitigated farces."
And, as he further said in the Science of Health, May 1875, "the fact that one or
the other system cannot survive a critical examination is what the advocates of
both systems are beginning to see."
Present Hygiene and let other systems alone is advice we are frequently given.
We may do things offensively or defensively; we may overthrow error or we
may establish truth.
Whichever of these ways of doing things we may prefer, it seems best to
employ both ways. We may prefer to establish truth; we may not like to be
always attacking error; we may think that if the truth is made plain enough,
error automatically retreats.
We wish that this were so; unfortunately, the human mind is capable of
harboring, at one and the same time, the most contradictory notions.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to demolish error before truth can be fully
established. We have nothing to do with individuals, but we recognize it as a
duty to expose fallacy and to denounce error and we cannot withhold our
criticisms because these errors and fallacies are popular.
Peradventure, some of our readers may imagine that we would better act our
part by simply telling what we know of our own side of the question at issue
between Hygiene and scientific empiricism, leaving the medical side to take
care of itself.
There could be no greater mistake. The people have generally been educated
in foolish whims and groundless theories; they are steeped in allopathic
sophistries; hence, before we can teach them the sublime truths of Natural
Hygiene and expect these to be understood, we must enable them to give a
reason why they should abandon the teachings of the medical system, as well
as for the adoption of the new faith as found in nature's Hygienic scheme.
The question is an old one: is the cause of truth and science promoted by
criticism of medical systems and their alleged medicines?
In reply to this question, it may be said, in the words of Trall, that: "error must
be exposed before it can be corrected."
It is all very well to feed milk to babies, but those of older growth and
especially those who have dealt with the "doses of death" and have "drawn
floods of the vital liquid" need something stronger than moral suasion.
To build a new house on a solid and enduring foundation, it is necessary first
to remove all the rubbish of the old one. To raise a flower garden, it is
essential that we eradicate the weeds.
A system may be judged in the light of its principles or in the light of its
illustrators. The principles upon which it is founded may be sound or
otherwise; its theories and its teachings may be logical and well based, or
they may be illusions.
On the other hand, we may judge the system by what it does, by its
accomplishments. Perhaps the wisest means of judging a system is by
looking at both its principles and its achievements.
The Hygienic System is opposed to all other systems that now or in the past
have sought popular approval. Let us, at this time at least, ignore all the other
systems except the regular or self-styled scientific medical system.
Hygienists oppose the drug-medical system because we believe it to be false.
It has no scientific basis. It is in opposition to nature. It is at war with life. It is
disastrous in practice.
Let us draw a few contrasts between this system and the Hygienic System.
1. Medicine teaches that disease is inevitable; Hygiene teaches that health is
man's normal state.
2. Medicine teaches that disease is a destructive process; Hygiene teaches
that disease is a remedial effort.
3. Medicine teaches that diseases are to be cured; Hygiene teaches that they
are to be permitted to accomplish their remedial work.
In the Science of Health, July 1873, Trall said:
"The broad and distinct issue between the Hygienic System and all other
systems is simply this: The drug system endeavors to cure disease. The
Hygienic System endeavors to cure patients."
Medicine has always pictured this process of cure as something so intricate
that only the initiated could understand it and they have taken great pains to
keep alive this delusion, lest the people assert their right to investigate the
matter and thus reveal the fallacies and inconsistencies of the system.
4. Medicine teaches that poisons are the proper things with which to cure
disease; Hygiene teaches that the normal things of life are the proper
substances and influences with which to build health.
Believing, as they do, in the curability of disease and this by drug
administration, if physicians condescend to consider Hygiene, they think of it
as something to place beside their most virulent and deadly poisons and to be
administered together. Failure is then blamed upon Hygiene, not upon the
We know that some who posed as Hygienists have declared that drugs are not
wholly useless, that a "little medicine" now and then will do good, that drugs
may sometimes save life, etc.
But, have these ever really given Hygiene a full trial; have they ever made a full
study of the relations of drugs to the living organism? It would break a
fundamental law of nature for a drug to have a beneficial effect.
5. Medicine teaches that drugs act on the body; Hygiene teaches that the living
organism acts on the drugs.
6. Medicine teaches that drugs cure disease; Hygiene teaches that drugs
occasion disease. To make this more clear: Hygiene teaches that the
administration of every new drug requires new and additional remedial efforts
to free the body of the poison--with every drug there is a new disease.
The physician cures--or attempts to do so--by producing "iatrogenic disease."
A sick man is given a substance (drug), which results, as is known from
experiment and experience, in impairment of function and destruction of
structure, and if and when he recovers from his illness, his recovery is
credited to the drug and not to the restorative operations of the body.
The drug cured him. This is tantamount to the proposition that an agent that is
known to be destructive occasions a restoration of health.
7. Physicians used to bleed, blister, puke and purge; now they inject,
transfuse, cut and vaccinate to cure disease; Hygiene supplies food, air,
water, sunshine, activity, rest, sleep and cleanliness--in a word, physiological
There is a radical difference between the Hygienic System, which saves, and
the drug system, which kills, but some cannot understand this difference.
They think of the two systems as merely two different, perhaps opposing
systems of treating disease.
Although every school of so-called healing insists that it is working for the
betterment of the health conditions of mankind, their works all demonstrate
that, however successful they may claim to be in grappling with the health
problems of the day, they fail to take due cognizance of certain fundamental
principles of physiology and biology and, failing to take cognizance of these
principles, they have all failed equally to provide measures that truly meet the
situation that has arisen. The Hygienic System alone meets this need.
8. Medicine seeks to cure disease; Hygiene seeks to remove cause. Look
further at our differences, for we are radically apart. We are not the same, with
only seeming differences. There is a vital antagonism between the two
systems. Medicine has a great advantage of position and rests securely
behind ancient fortifications, but these do not constitute criteria of truth.
So long has the world been accustomed to the thought that diseases are to be
cured with drugs that the proposal to care for the sick without drugs, but with
only the normal things of life, seems at first absurd.
It is absurd--just as absurd as was the theory that the earth is round and turns
on its axis, when it was first presented. The theory was controverted for 1,200
We may expect Hygienic principles to be controverted for a long time, too,
before they are finally accepted. Physicians say that they give drugs to "help
nature throw off disease." Sublime thought! What is this disease that nature is
trying to "throw off?"
In what way do drugs assist in the process? They give their drug, but they do
not stop to remove or correct causes and if this is not done, all of their efforts
are in vain.
9. Medicine holds that diseases are caused by germs, viruses, parasites, etc.
Hygiene teaches that diseases result from violations of the laws of life.
Physicians seem to be ignorant of the simplest rules of life and health.
10. Medicine teaches that disease may be prevented by immunization;
Hygiene teaches that obedience to the laws of life is the only preventive of
11. Medicine is a system of treating disease, largely a system of spectacular
palliation; Hygiene is a way of life. The results of the two systems are as
different as are their theories and practices.
Writing in 1853, Dr. Thomas Low Nichols said that if a Hygienic practitioner
"had a case of fever, he would be ashamed to be more than a week in curing it.
In a chronic disease, the patient makes such steady progress and gets so
thorough an understanding of his case as to get beyond the necessity of
This is not all, as he pointed out. The best part of the matter is that when a
man gets well under Hygiene, he gets with his recovery the knowledge
necessary to maintain his health forever after.
"A patient cured, is a patient lost; and if that patient is the head of a family, don't
count on that family practice to meet your current expenses."
Dr. Nichols further said:
"In common medical practice, when a physician gets a few families to take him
as their regular physician, his fortune is made. He deals out his medicines and
the diseases come as seedtime and harvest. The more business he has, the
more he may have. The more he tinkers, the more the constitutions of his
patients want mending, until the doctor and his drugs become the necessities
Hygienic practitioners find all this changed and the more thorough and
conservative they are with their patients, the less they will have to do with
them. We must rely upon continually making new converts. We must use
every means to spread a knowledge of Hygiene or our very successes will
But true men can never fear the progress of intelligence, nor regret the
happiness of mankind and when the medical core is finally disbanded, it will
be because we have triumphed over suffering and there is no enemy to
The people are familiar with the practices of the medical system; they know
only too well how futile, even lethal, are its practices. Millions of them are
admitted by medical men themselves to be suffering with iatrogenic disease.
The people know that medical practices are in a constant state of flux, that
medical theories are as unstable as quicksand and as changeable as the wind.
Physicians keep them on a constant teeter-totter ride-up into the clouds of
hope and expectancy, then down into the dark valley of despair-as they
promise new wonders with their newly discovered cures and then discard
them as failures. It is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that a false
system of medical practice prevails.
Notwithstanding the great number of reformatory modes and systems that
have come into existence within this century or just before and the number of
drug systems that have died out, nothing significant has been done to perfect
a science of medicine.
Have physicians and pharmacologists ever made a serious attempt to prove
that drugs possess curative properties? By reference to what general
principle can their curative powers be proved?
So far as we can see, they make no pretense of proving the curative power of
their drugs but rest their case entirely on experience (their so-called clinical
tests are merely part of their experience). Certainly, they fail to apply scientific
rules to the verification of their claims.
In the past, at least, certain medical leaders (Broussias, for example) have
denied the applicability of scientific rules to the testing of drugs, on the
ground that the facts oppose science. Bleeding, said Broussias, is well
known to cure inflammation, no matter what science says.
We ask for evidence. What reason have we to believe that any drug can ever
restore a sick person to health? Is it because it is in the nature of drugs to do
Drugs either cure or they don't. If they do cure, disease should decrease in
proportion to the increase in drugs and physicians. The contrary is the
Concomitantly with the increase in the number of physicians and the number
of drug remedies, there has been a steady increase in the incidence of
disease. "How wonderful!" I exclaimed as I finished reading a lengthy list of
remarkably efficient curative drugs now at the command of physicians.
"Certainly there is now no need for more sickness in the world. No more colds,
coughs, corns, consumption, constipation, worms, skin eruptions, backaches,
fevers, etc., for the world now has an arsenal of 'wonder drugs' that should
speedily free mankind of suffering."
12. In the regular practice of medicine, it is not good manners to ask questions
and explanations are never volunteered. You must respect the wisdom of
your physician and trust your case in his hands.
He is entitled to your confidence and his fees and you have nothing to do but
to follow his prescription and his directions. If you ask what you are taking, he
will use his discretion about telling you; or if he condescends to tell you the
truth, you will be little wiser.
The common practice of medicine, as with every other kind of charlatanry, is
based upon confidence and credulity.
Hygiene has changed all this. In Hygiene, the first step towards restoring the
body to health is enlightenment of the sick. The best foundation for a belief in
Hygiene is a thorough knowledge of physiology and the causes of disease.
We have no mystery except the great mystery of life.
When we have explained the human constitution and its relations to external
nature, our work is done; when this explanation is understood, our convert is
People's attention is attracted by recoveries under Hygienic care, but it is only
by an understanding of principles that they are converted-hence the necessity
for a multiplication of books and the promotion of Hygienic journals, hence
also the duty of all who can write or speak to use pen or tongue in this most
The aim of the physiological system of Hygiene infinitely transcends that of
medicine; it proceeds from a knowledge of the reason and nature of things,
and is scientific; the other can establish no connection between the disease
and the drug that is applied to it, and is empirical.
Hygiene depends for its success upon the intelligence of those who adopt it;
medicine depends on the faith that is ever a concomitant of ignorance.
The Hygienist must educate his patient. To control the captiousness and
ignorant whims of the sick requires much tact, but little deceit; it is generally
best to supply knowledge in these matters, to supplant incorrect notions, as
fast as it can be received.
Knowledge is the only true corrective of ever-recurring vital mistakes. The
laws of life, so intimately connected with our well being and happiness, should
not be conjectural or of ambiguous significance. They are carved on a page
as broad as the face of nature and are exemplified in all that breathes. Every
patient should have a full knowledge of them.
The modern Hygienic movement, or so it seems to the author, is the result of
real progress in knowledge. The most thorough Hygienic converts we know
are the most intelligent. Indeed, up to this time, there are few others.
A man can believe in Hygiene just as far as he understands its principles, but
his belief in the common practices of medicine or the use of drugs in any way
is just in proportion to his lack of understanding.
In all this Hygiene is peculiar. Other systems have their books and journals,
but they are for the profession alone and cannot be understood by the
For thousands of years the sick world has trusted practitioners to cure it and
the result has been an increase of diseases and a more premature and
13. Under the prevailing system of medicine, as in past systems, it is sought to
restore health by the use of those things which destroy health; invigoration is
hoped for through processes that exhaust, and it is sought to develop the
powers of the body by defying nature-hence it is that the plans in vogue are by
their very terms and nature empirical and not scientific.
The plan of Natural Hygiene, on the other hand, is nature's own plan and
method and is, therefore, the scientific one.
The Hygienist employs no agents that are in their very nature destructive of
the welfare of the animal economy, which is always the case with drugs in
whatever amounts given or in whatever dose employed.
It has long been lamented by physicians that, in the administration of their
remedies, they cannot count on universal results. They claim that the most
inexplicable peculiarities and individualities interpose themselves so that their
supposedly salutary remedies become pernicious.
Drugs (poisons), instead of assisting the body in its restorative work, check
the healing processes of nature and deaden and stifle disease instead of
restoring health. Often they change acute infections, which left to their own
courses would result in health, to chronic and irremediable diseases.
In Hygiene there is no patching up, but a thorough renovation, both of the
individual organism and of the ways of life of the individual. In Hygiene there
is no tampering with evils. They are all rejected and only beneficial agencies
"We neither bleed nor madden, nor stupefy, nor intoxicate--in a word, we do not
poison." We restore the vital functions to their natural harmony and their
highest vigor by the employment of physiological requirements.
14. The medical man finds a sick body filled with toxic debris and he proceeds
to add the equally potent poisons of his materia medica in the vague hope that
somehow one poison will expel the other, then get rid of itself.
In such a case, the Hygienist calls to his aid the elements of health. Every
drug, every potent article of the materia medica, is a poison and, as such, in
large or small doses, exerts a deceiving influence upon the system.
Of this there is no question--it is on all sides admitted--and the whole practice
of drug medication is confessedly a choice between evils. It professes to cure
a greater evil by producing a lesser; but in practice, too often, this rule is
reversed, for one evil is added to another.
In medical practice, when one drug is given to act upon a disease, another is
given to counteract the effects of the first and so on, until the patient, feeble
and exhausted from the actions and reactions due to a whole series of
poisons, is left at last with just the breath of life remaining, to get well by the
operation of what vital power medication has spared him.
Health, once established by Hygienic care, is maintained by it ever after. It is
rare that a Hygienic family ever requires the services of a Hygienist a second
Hygiene threatens, in this way, to destroy all so-called medical practice.
Mothers learn, not only to care for the diseases of their families, but what is
more important, to keep the family in health.
The only way that a Hygienist can live is by constantly getting new clients, as
the old ones are too thoroughly restored and too well informed to require
15. The Hygienist cares for a sick person very much in the same way that he
would a well one, whom he desired to keep well. The homeopath treats him
just as he would if he were well and he desired to make him sick.
The allopath loses sight of the man altogether, making use of him only as a
medium through which to fight a myth he calls disease--which myth no man
has seen and the allopath can tell neither from whence it comes nor whither it
goes, when its action is present (if present it be) nor give any description of it
further than its name, disease.
In the melee, if the man escapes, it is well for him; if he dies, the death is
charged to the disease, not to the physician.
Under the plan of care prevailing at the origin of the Hygienic System, sufferer
after sufferer lingered and was dosed, bled and blistered, but died. In such
cases, it was assumed that, all having been done to save them that could be
done, their "time had come."
God had so decreed and, of course, it was best that they go. What logic. What
worse than ludicrous muddle.
Concurrent events in the one class of cases are accepted as causes and
effects; in the other, an imaginary decree is conjured up to relieve the
shameful failure, not to say drug murder.
Strange, is it not, that nobody ever thought to credit recovery to the fact that
the "patient's time" had not come--God had not decreed his death?
Worse than the foregoing, if this is possible, was the habit of charging Hygiene
with responsibility for death if a patient, far gone under wrong living and
worse treatment, was not brought back from the dead by pure physiological
Hygiene was denied the benefits of good logic. It was not even provided with
the scapegoat that protected the drug system--if a patient died under Hygienic
care, this was not because his "time" had come. God did not decree that he
16. The means of medicine are artificial methods, a coinage of their own
ingenuity. The drug-medical system seeks, with all the causes of disease in all
the kingdoms of nature, to cure disease by creating new disease.
How different the work of the Hygienist. He employs only such substances
and conditions with which the organism is entirely familiar and which it uses
daily, seeking to adjust these to its altered requirements. His is a legitimate
The means of Hygiene are natural and have belonged to man's normal way of
life from his origin. Hygienic means have their foundation in the fitness of
There is a radical distinction between the Hygienic System, which seeks to aid
and assist the vital organism with the normal things of life in its reconstructive
work, and the drug-medical system, which seeks to cure disease by the use of
Writing in the Journal, June 1860, W. T. Vail, M.D., said:
"The mass of mankind seem to think that there is a drug for every disease and
could they only be so fortunate as to find that drug when they are sick, or find
the physician who knows it and can administer it properly, they might be
These learned doctors believe, while they are so bountifully and
indiscriminately dealing out drugs to their patients, there is scarcely one
disease in four in which drugs have the least efficacy towards effecting a cure."
Thus he bears witness to the fact that the profession of his day had little
confidence in the drugs they so freely administered. Two wrongs can never
make a right and giving poisonous drugs to remedy the effects of prior
violations of the laws of life is like knocking a drunken man down because he
won't stand up.
If a substance is harmful, why take it into the body? Why think that because it
does not produce instantaneous death, we may take it with impunity? Why
not refrain from burdening the body with it? Why not give your body the best
opportunity to maintain high-level health?
If we are content to suffer, if we want to watch ourselves go down year after
year, then we will give no attention to the ways in which we feed and care for
ourselves; but if health is worth having, it is worth the simple effort that is
required to refrain from habitually abusing the body by habits that are foreign
to the elemental needs of life.
If health is worth regaining, it is worth the simple effort required to provide the
elemental needs of life and to refrain from destroying life by dosing the body
with poisonous substances drawn from all the kingdoms of nature.
There is but one way to solve the health problems of man and this is to abolish
the practice of medicine and replace it with Natural Hygiene.
What are the other schools of so-called healing (those other than the medical
system) doing towards this end? Exactly nothing. In fact, with their
contradictory propaganda and their inconsistent activities, they only add their
weight to the elements, which confuse the health seeker.
These various competing schools serve to obstruct humanity's progress
towards a world of health and sanity. When, finally, they go out of their
confused and hapless existence, there should not be a glimmer of regret.
All those writers who gather their ideas from the current literature of the day
without examination and critical analysis must necessarily advance, or rather,
teach the fleeting errors of the times. They may expose an occasional error;
but, basically, they propagate the very errors they seem to expose.
Never in all history has so much praise been wasted on a fundamentally evil
thing as today goes out to medicine. Indeed, wasted is too mild a word.
Perverted would be more accurate.
When once the people have acquired a genuine understanding of the nature
of medicine and its practices, it will be regarded with aversion and downright
When our opponents lay down their arms, retreat from the field and ask for
quarter, there will no longer be necessity for us to pursue them. Then we can
devote our attention exclusively to the welfare of the living, guarding them
against ill health, drugs, physicians and the whole paraphernalia of medical
slop-shops, blisters, man mid-wives and every other unclean thing.
Until then, we must continue to fight, as did all past reformers and
revolutionaries. When light and knowledge have obtained the ascendancy
over darkness and evil, then and then only shall our swords be beaten into
ploughshares and pruning hooks and mankind learn war no more, nor
swallow pills, pukes and other drugs.
It may be objected that medicine is scientific, hence, one of our sacred cows.
Science is radically empirical and is devoted to methodology rather than to
ontology. It treats general propositions as working hypotheses, that is, as
"provisional truths" to be continually revised as the results of observation and
Science is at least partly conventional. It emphasizes the operation of
verification as essential to verity, but is rarely, if ever, satisfied with its
verifications. All of its conclusions are provisional and subject to revision,
change or discard.
The scientist is, in sober fact, an instrumentalist. But, in addition to his
dependence upon his scales and measuring rods, he is, in many areas of
learning, a guesser.
Biology, physiology, geology, anthropology, archeology and kindred sciences
are shot through with guesses. Pharmacology is one stupendous guess and
a wrong guess.
That mythical science called the science of modern medicine is a system of
incongruities, absurdities and morbid products of the imagination.
Physicians often complain that they are forced to treat their patients in the
manners in which they do treat them, because the patients demand it. This
complaint is made in utter disregard of the all too obvious fact that the
teachings of medical science constitute the starting point of popular beliefs
When physicians yield to the clamor of their patient for the popular drug, as
they so often do, there is reflected back upon them the fallacies they have so
assiduously promulgated in the public mind.
In his maze of learned stultification the physician is hopelessly lost at sea
without rudder or compass.
Deprive him of his drugs and he knows nothing to do in caring for the sick.
After all, Hygiene does have a guiding principle, which is the fundament of true
Allopathic medicine is crumbling like an old building beset with fungi and the
fact that it is a gigantic building does not stay the process.
The ideological decay of the medical system is no less apparent than its
structural collapse and only those people who seek the obscure and
cabbalistic, when the simple truth is right on the surface, can fail to discern
The "euphoria and public complacency" cultivated by the medical organization
and the public press cannot long hide the going to pieces of the poisoning
system. When you permit your faith to oust facts or your fancy to oust
memory, you lay yourself open to deception.
Medicine & Hygiene Contrasted
By: Herbert M. Shelton
Excerpted From: Man's Pristine Way Of Life 1968
Article: Medicine and Hygiene Contrasted
Complete Book Free Online: Man's Pristine Way Of Life
Herbert M. Shelton