Natural Hygiene vs. Medical Cures
By: Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
The medical dictionary defines
cure to mean:
"The course of treatment of any
disease, or of a special case.
The successful treatment of a
disease or wound; a system of
treating disease; a medicine
effective in treating disease."
Thus do meanings of words change. From the Latin, cura, which is
synonymous with our word care, cure was originally applied to the care of the
healthy individual, then to the care of the sick; now it is defined as a method or
means of treating disease or as a medicine effective in treating a disease.
Once it also had the significance of a reinstatement of health in an organism
that was recently sick, but even then, in both common and professional
acceptance, it had reference to the means whereby this was supposed to be
A drug was said to be a "cough cure" or a cure for constipation, or for some
other disease. The present definition that it is "a medicine effective in treating
disease" is ambiguous, in that it fails to define what the "medicine" is effective
Few of medicine's "effective medicines" are claimed to do more than provide a
little evanescent and doubtful palliation. Be this as it may, the sick would
hardly be said to be cured, however perfect the recovery, without the
employment of some drug or treatment. Cure is wrought by some foreign or
The sick are treated as they are clothed and drugged as they are fed, in the
confident assurance that, in either case, they are being fitted and burnished
for new services.
Hence it is that cure has reference to external rather than to an internal
recourse. Call it a medicine or a course of treatment, the cure is the work of
something outside the living organism, not the result of the body's own
Living things alone are subjects of the curative efforts of those who profess to
be able to heal and it is the different estimates relatively that are credited to the
vital, organic or recuperative forces, and the part that treatment plays, that
serves as the basis of the different views entertained of the subject.
Apparently most members of the various schools of healing deem that disease
is a destructive something that will inevitably consummate its malevolent work
unless opposed by some counteracting and neutralizing power, the forces of
life being little more than a spectator on the sidelines, until the disease is either
vanquished, accepting the victory wrought in their behalf, or the patient dies.
There are among these various practitioners, those (relatively few) who award
some credit to the processes of life, if these forces are stimulated or goaded
by measures capable of exciting or arousing their actions defensively.
Outside the schools of curing, there are those who place no dependence on
any other means than those of organic recuperation and reconstruction, or in
those all-efficient processes and means that continue the vital or organic
changes in the healthy state.
These hold that healing is a biological process, as much an activity of life as
nutrition, respiration, excretion, etc., and that it requires no goads to action.
All the many schools of curing that have existed in the past and that exist now,
with all their many and opposing theories, and their many and conflicting
practices, have existed and acted under the assumption that all desirable ends
in cases of disease have been and are affected by medical treatment.
Scarcely any reliance has been placed upon the intrinsic vital capacities. At all
times the big question in medical investigations and actions has revolved
about the matter of the qualities, quantities and times in which medicines are
Obviously there has been a mountain of error in all this theorizing and
empirical practice. Schools of medicine and modes of treatment have followed
each other into oblivion in a melancholy succession, leaving scarcely a trace
It has been assumed that what we call symptoms of disease are necessarily
and invariably evidences of a destructive process; that a great variety of
substances known to be inimical to health, are yet, also, antagonistic to
disease; that on special occasions such substances may constitute special
vivifying means, differing from those usually necessary, performing on local
structures curative acts that differ from the ordinary nutritive and reproductive
Writing in November 1954, George H. Taylor, M.D., said that the Hygienic
School: "endeavors to show that these assumptions are to be taken, if at all,
with many qualifications, and that the present state of science fails to warrant,
or absolutely repudiate them."
On this occasion he also pointed out that the Hygienic School: "seeks to guide
those liable to suffer from disease to a true knowledge of themselves, and to
the probable causes of their physical miseries" and finds redemption, "in the
discipline and correction of faulty and perverted functional habits."
Taylor said that the Hygienic school abjures entirely the empirical or
experimental practices of the curing schools, and refuses to admit, as
untrustworthy, the ambiguous evidence in favor of such practices.
Admitting that, even with the same data upon which to reason, there would be
differences in judgment, he asserted that: "life and its invariable phenomena,
rather than medicine and its uses, should furnish the proper field of inquiry."
From such a study is to be gained a knowledge of how the living organism
behaves under different circumstances; we would learn what life ordinarily
does, and how it will act under constraint and compulsion, and what are the
proper conditions for its ascendancy over the causes of disease.
As he pointed out on the occasion, we can never weigh or measure the vital
principle, but we may observe the circumstances that attend its operations, its
work, its invariable conditions, its laws, what it does, and that on our
understanding of these we must base our actions in reference to it, both in
health and in disease.
All of this simply means that, whatever may be the essential nature of life, our
behavior towards the body, whether well or sick, must be, if it is not to be
harmful, consonant with human physiology.
A living organism grows, reproduces and multiplies its parts and, by this
repetition extends itself. To do this, it selects from its environment such
materials as it has the capacity to make into parts of its own structure, and as
promptly rejects and refuses all other substances.
These are necessary conditions to the maintenance of its vital integrity. In the
one-celled organism, in the higher plant or animal, wherever we see life,
selection and appropriation of food, assimilation and growth, and refusal and
rejection are constant actions, and the energy of these actions must gear a
constant relation to each other, for the living organism seeks its own welfare in
As the constitution of the living unit is uniform and invariable, it necessarily
follows that all external substances must be of three kinds, namely:
Materials that are identical with or are susceptible to being transformed into
the same form as that of the living structure and are related to the organism as
Substances that may be described as indifferent giving rise to no change
upon contact, but may serve as a needed medium, for example, water.
Substances that cannot be transformed into cell substance, but the relation of
which, to the vital structure, is one of antagonism, and in varying degrees of
intensity, is destructive of the integrity of the vital organism, and are properly
classed as poison.
We may properly think of water as belonging, essentially, to the first
classification, as it is essential to all vital actions and vital syntheses.
Viewing matter in this light, then, all substances with which the living organism
comes into contact are either food materials or poisons. The class which we
call poisons is very numerous and composed of a number of subdivisions—
indeed, this class is almost as various as the number of elements and
chemical compounds, after we have subtracted nutriments.
When nonusable substances are brought into contact with the cells, they must
be resisted, rejected, expelled. The actions by which these poisons are
resisted and expelled have long been mistaken for actions of the poisons.
In sober fact, the so-called actions of drugs (poisons) are actions of the living
body. These actions are but phases of the primordial activities of the living
organism in rejecting and casting off materials that cannot be normally
appropriated into living structures.
Animal organisms are made up of parts and each of these parts is composed
of lesser elements, each of which has a quasi-independent existence and
exercises its own peculiar powers of action, and is capable of its own peculiar
affections, hence the application of foreign substances to the general
organism, through the circulation, gives rise to local effects in keeping with the
characteristics of the parts affected, all of which are disturbances of the
normal functions of the various parts, and this tends to impair and degrade
and not to elevate the local function.
All this results inevitably from the invariableness that characterizes the
constitution of living organisms as much as it does inanimate things.
The same constituent elements and the same conditions of warmth, heat,
activity, etc., are employed in the composition of each individual of each
species, wherever produced or reproduced; the same laws ruling that are
observed to rule other individuals.
In the whole evolution of an organism and its activities, effects change in
relation to changing conditions, but the laws governing these operations
Because of this invariableness, all attempts to impose materials or conditions
upon the organism other than those that normally and naturally belong to it,
are met with determined resistance, and can result only in a waste of its
formative elements and actuating energies.
The constant and orderly development of forms with which the forces of life
are connected, and on which the functions and activities of life depend, is thus
retarded and even perverted.
The broad page of nature, with its infinite diversity, is but a statement of these
principles. Organization, whether we regard it as something apart from the
ordinary chemical and physical forms and forces or a special application of
physical and chemical forces, is no less subject to fixed principles and
Its almost infinite variety of manifestations are expressions of the values of the
forces that inhere in particular organisms under special conditions. Matter
itself undergoes no change in its intrinsic qualities.
All the importance that attaches to the effort to manage health and recovery by
drugs arises out of a failure to recognize the foregoing principles. They arise
out of a mistake in the essential nature of the actions occasioned in the vital
organism by the administration of drugs.
The very liberality of man's constitutional endowments makes possible the
great number and variety of actions that are and have been mistaken for the
actions of "remedies."
Considering the nature of man, and his many constitutional capabilities, it
should be evident that the variations in his health and the multitude of
symptoms which occur, arise out of his complexity of structure and function
as much as do the many actions that have, been mistaken for drug actions.
It is the human organism, and not simple lifeless chemical substances, that is
capable of such a wide variety of behavior patterns. Rightly considered, these
many capacities for action are evidences of man's superiority, not of his
Dr. Taylor thought that: "The utmost reach of power demands the utmost
freedom of its exercise," and pointed out, in this connection, that, the end of
man's intellectual existence "could not be attained by confining him to a fixed
point of temperature, or locality, and a consequent uniform subsistence."
To meet the requirements of his intellect, man requires a highly complex and
plastic organism. The human organism is capable of accommodating itself to
a great variety of circumstances, making use, in so doing, of a variety of
means of adjustment and adaptation.
Man is possessed of organs and systems of organs that, in their normal
functions, act reciprocally to secrete and excrete, adopt and exclude, to the
end that physiological equilibrium be maintained.
With such marvelous means of adjustment at his command, man evolves no
disease, so long as his needs (supplies) are filled and waste is rejected. Only
when he has reduced his functioning powers so that waste is incompletely
expelled, nutrition is impaired, secretion is checked and vital processes are
hampered does he become sick, i.e., his body embarks on an emergency
course of liberation and restoration.
If we exclude those "diseases" that result from poisoning by drugs or similar
toxic substances taken in from without, disease is the result of impairments or
imperfections in the functions of the body which permit the accumulation of
endogenously generated toxin, the imperfection of function growing out of
reduced functioning power (enervation) which, in turn, results from the
dissipation of the energies of life.
This is to say, disease is autogenerated. It is not an attack upon the body by
an outside foe, but a consequence of violations of the conditions of a healthy
Since the principles and conditions of vital as well as of chemical actions are
fixed and do not change because the organism is sick, it becomes plain that
the professionally-induced "medicinal" disease cannot possess the
intelligence or power to restore health.
Recuperation and recovery are never the results of so-called medicines, but
are always the results of the operation of the organic forces and of the
conditions that usually maintain health. Health is to be restored, as it is to be
preserved, by conforming to the healthful conditions laid down by nature.
This will be met with the assertion that good effects are seen to follow the
administration of drugs; we will even be assured that drugs can and often do
save life. The record of experience will be appealed to, to substantiate this
Case histories and case records will be paraded in evidence. Such "evidence"
takes no account of the self-healing powers and activities of the organism and,
at the same time, assumes that the drug effect is additional to that of the
healing work of the sick body. True, there is additional action—the activity
needed to resist and expel the drug. The vital actions are changed, not
Any benefit accruing to health must come, either through the ordinary
physiological processes or through some temporary, even, perhaps dramatic
modification of these to meet special occasions, and these can work only with
the normal things of life: food instead of poison, rest instead of stimulation,
sleep instead of narcosis, air instead of drug fumes, warmth instead of
mustard plasters, etc., etc.
Those substances that the living structure cannot, appropriate and use, but
must reject in a state of health are equally nonusable and must be rejected in a
state of disease when the powers of life are lowered.
Drugs can only further impair and depress vital powers. Drugs morbidly
occasion the diversion of the very functions and processes upon which the
body must rely for purgation and healing. This may so devitalize the body that
it must suspend its healing efforts—symptoms are suppressed.
Finally, it must be observed that, in treating the sick with drugs, no lesson is
taught, no discipline is enforced, and no condition is instituted that is of any
value in health or in a subsequent state of illness.
The intellect of the patient is left a blank, his body a scene of devastation. The
patient does not know why he was sick, nor how he recovered, and he does
not know how to avoid becoming sick again.
By: Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, Ph.D
Hygienic Review, August 1965.
Article: Natural Hygiene Vs. Medical Cures