Natural Hygiene: The Pristine Way of Life by Herbert M. Shelton
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We are taking it upon ourselves to write this book in an effort to introduce as many people as possible to the principles and practices of Natural Hygiene and to the results of its practices. Many of the thoughts expressed herein may be old and customary thoughts, but the freshness with which they appeal to us, when we are able to see them in new relations, justifies their repetition. It is almost literally true that whatever one may write is but a repetition of what somebody else has written and, perhaps, written better; but it remains equally true that nothing that is worth writing can be written too often.
It is now nearly a century and a half since the Hygienic System was reintroduced to the world as a plan of care for both the well and the sick. When new truths are presented, line upon line, precept upon precept and volume upon volume are needed if the new truths are to be made to take their root in consciousness. Today there are multiplied means of instruction; but unfortunately, most of these are monopolized by the forces of exploitation. Our people, angry, frustrated and desperate or dazzled and hopelessly bewildered, are captives of a gigantic system of human exploitation that knows no limits to its exploitation and no depth to which it will not descend in its efforts to make people believe that they are being benefitted by the merciless exploitation to which they are being subjected.
A history of the human race is a history of progress. From aprons of fig leaves to silk and cotton raiment and garlands of gold and silver tissues; from the tent, the wigwam and the canoe, to the palace, the ocean steamer and the jet plane; from travelling by “blazed trees” on horseback and in clumsy vehicles to the railroad and a long series of interior improvements, there has been one long stream of progress. But with it all, man has neglected himself. Writing in the May 1853 issue of Nichols’ Journal, Mary Gove said: “Man has cultivated what is about him and neglected his own nature. He has been careful for the earth and for animals. He loves a beautiful garden and is proud of a noble horse. He builds hospitals for the sick and prisons for the criminal. But he digs not up the evil root of ignorance that bears a fruitful crop of disease and crime.” At present, we can only deplore facts like these and labor to put forth light everywhere upon the earth‘s darkness.
Since the ending of World War II, one of the most evident trends in American life is that towards conformity. There remains, as a hangover from the past, a widespread unconscious suspicion of the thinker; while, at the same time, our educational authorities do not hesitate to herald. the fact that their aim is that of teaching “adjustment to life,” the importance, even the necessity, of “social approval” and the ready acceptance by the individual of mass values. A so‐called “new conservatism” has come into being and is struggling for mastery over the minds of the people. We tend to accept that which is taught without stopping to think whether or not it is true. We are so eager to shift responsibility to someone else and so brain lazy that we blindly follow some great name, right or wrong. Or we follow the popular breeze because this is the easy way out. The present‐day revolt of youth, however blind and goalless the rebellion, is a hopeful development.
The reactionary demand for conformity that characterizes our era is an authoritarian system that closely parallels the dogmatic religions. It is asserted that the demand for conformity is greater in academic circles than among the “common people.” Echoing the statement of the totalitarian leader who shouted: “Death to all who are not of our crowd,” they withhold favors and recognition to any man who deviates from their authoritarian standard. They enforce their own conformity and, like the totalitarian, feel that they dare not fail. For this reason, they are merciless towards their opponents and demand extinction, root and branch, of all who dare to oppose them. This attitude grows directly out of their fears.
In an age when nothing qualifies as knowledge unless and until it has obtained a charter of its validity from duly constituted authority, vital knowledge may languish in studied neglect for long periods only because duly constituted authority refuses to abandon its old and profitable errors in favor of revolutionary and probably unprofitable new truths or because this authority refuses to believe that any knowledge can arise except through the duly constituted channels. The authorities in science, like those in theology, are quick to remind the outsider, when he presents a new find: “We have not educated you; you teach not our doctrines.” Our educational system stifles curiosity and independence and discourages, if it does not forbid, those deviations that open up new fields. With its fanatical concentration upon its authorities and its established sciences, it conveys no sense of the diversity of life and of the history of N Natural Hygiene immutable—Error has as many forms as Proteus. Truth and fallacy go their opposite ways. They do not gravitate in the same direction. They do not revolve around a common center. But truth is of value only in a world that lives by it. Bigotry and bluff do not always stand for truth: more often they merely camouflage ignorance and failure.
Through education and through everything that he hears and sees about him, a child acquires so many lies and blind follies mixed with the essential truths of life that the first duty of the young man or woman who desires to grow into a healthy adult is to cast away all truth and untruth that he or she has acquired at second hand, everything which has not been learned by personal observation and experience, and take a fresh start. No idea, however old, no “truth,” however grand, should be looked upon as a sacred cow. All should be thrown into the fire together and have all the dross burned out of it. During adolescence, when the mind is still pliable and green, is the ideal time for this unburdening to occur. The adolescent who achieves this elimination of tradition and convention and, who loses his or her cultivated admiration for things old, may then enter adulthood fully prepared to think with courage and without the warping influence of blind credulity. Because we have an educational system that does not educate, because we have embalmed our superstitions in creed and ritual, because we have preserved many of our superstitions in our science, man is at all times only 30 minutes from barbarism. Because our teachers are not permitted to tell the truth, even when they know it, lest they step on the favorite corns of some of our vested interests—commercial, religious, political or scientific, etc.—our young people are brought up on lies. A professor of history in a city college, who had spent several summers in historical research among the archives of his state, once told me that there is a great difference between history as it is taught and as it actually occurred. When I asked: “Professor, do you tell these things to your students?” he replied: “I know which side of my bread has butter on it. If I were to tell them these things, my job would not last a week.” Such is our much talked of “academic freedom.” Our teachers are as free as our press. Many of them know that they are teaching lies; but their jobs depend upon the lies, so they keep their jobs.
Our people are not trained to investigate primary principles; very few, indeed, ever think of tracing a system or a theory to its basic premise or starting point. In medicine this is peculiarly true. For 2,500 years it has been assiduously and zealously seeking to build a science of medicine on false principles, with the inevitable result that all of the results of this vast amount of work and thought may be summed up as a vast collection of problems in pathology and therapeutics, amounting to nothing more than “incoherent expressions of incoherent ideas.” Theirs is a wrong basis at the outset. Starting with the assumption that disease is an entity, and that in the poisons found in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms there exists a specific for each disease, we detect the sources of the errors and fallacies that envelop in mystery the medical system. Medicine today is founded on hazardous experiments instead of being based on principles brought to light by physiological and biological science.
In the past, the medical profession sought to arrogate to itself all knowledge having important relations to disease and recovery therefrom, virtually saying that they and they alone are the conservators of the bodies of men. When life was in its greatest peril in sickness, we were supposed to have such reverence for the physician and such unbounded faith in the saving potency of his bag of poisons as to compel us to think and feel that the issues of life reside with him, and he was supposed to have control, almost supernaturally, over our mortal destiny. No matter how useful a general diffusion of such important knowledge, knowledge which relates to our very existence, and the means of developing and influencing the forces concerned therein, the knowledge was to remain the exclusive possession of a small professional class, too sacred or too occult for the common understanding. The people, of course, were to see the art of restoring health only as a complex system of drugging. Their prescriptions were supposed to be of such a character as to defy the scrutiny of popular inquiry; they demanded a confidence almost unqualified.
Tracing the progress of the healing arts opens up for the student an arena in which has been enacted some of the most astounding scenes connected with the rise and progress of civilization. Change is indelibly written upon every page of its history; yet this change can hardly be called progress. This constant mutation, this prevailing disposition to exchange old systems for new ones, to cast off old cures and adopt newer remedies, is due to the Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life 6 uncertainties of the subject entertained and to the evident lack of a valid foundation for medical theories and practices. It reveals that all the systems of medicine were outside the pale of truth.
A study of medical history reveals that each succeeding generation of physicians repudiates the theories and practices of its predecessor and spends time and talent without stint in inventing new theories and new practices, only to have these suffer the same fate as those of their predecessors. It also reveals how easy it is to make the same fact apparently sustain opposite theories.
For 2,500 years the highest powers of the human mind have been devoted to the invention or discovery of cures for the diseases of man. Many of the brightest minds of earth have engaged in this search. Untold mountains of wealth have been poured into the effort to find cures. For the past 50 years scientists have devoted so much time, energy, talent and technical knowledge to this search that it makes all preceding efforts in this direction pale into insignificance. The whole field of nature has been ransacked to discover antidotes for the many diseases with which man suffers.
The chemist has analyzed every substance, both inorganic and organic, of nature. He has created combinations as varied and numberless as the leaves of the forest. Not a mineral or a vegetable poison, however malignant, but has been added to the truly frightful load of medicines to be used to cure man‘s diseases. The poisons of insects, of spiders, of snakes, as well as the excretions of animals have been added to the materia medica. In the hope of discovering some panacea or some specific for the ills of man, ambitious men have added numberless drugs (poisons) to the armamentarium of physicians.
Fortunes of tremendous magnitude have been acquired by the compounders of elixirs and cordials. Specifics galore have been announced and tried. But the results of all this searching and experimenting have not been satisfactory. Diseases have increased; their malignancy and fatality have been fearful. Chronic diseases, in particular, have enormously increased in modern times.
There are in this country more than 250,000 physicians; there are thousands of hospitals, clinics, sanitoria; there are several giant chemical industries turning out drugs and vaccines; there are thousands of wholesale and retail drug companies, employing an Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life 7 army of pharmacists; there is a great army of nurses, technicians and others who depend on the drug trade for their livelihood. In addition to all these, there are the manufacturers of bottles, pill boxes, cartons and plastics, and there are the newspapers, magazines, radio and television, that derive millions out of the advertising of these products. The drug industry, directly and indirectly, accounts for incomes and profits that run into many billions of dollars a year in this country alone.
It will be forever impossible to get medical men to acknowledge any principle which, if adopted by the people, will utterly overthrow the drug system and ruin the occupations of physicians. They never can and never will acknowledge such principles. Wounded pride, professional prejudice, inordinate vanity and self‐ interest stand in their way of giving the matter candid and objective consideration. The members of a learned profession are naturally the very persons who are disposed not to favor innovation upon practices which custom and prescription have rendered sacred in their view.
We expect nothing from them but opposition and imposition, slang and misrepresentation. But we care very little for what they think. Our message is for the people who have no stake in medicine. If the doctrines, principles and practices of Hygiene are accepted by the people, they will utterly revolutionize the care of the sick and completely wreck this giant industry and its parasitic industry, that of drug research. This immense business will be ruined, utterly and forever. The power, prestige, position, fame, the pride and wealth of the medical profession will be destroyed. For the profession to accept even our fundamental proposition that, in the relations between lifeless matter and living structure, the latter is active, the former passive, always, would permit the entering wedge that will upset the superstructure of the so‐called healing art. The profession becomes, therefore, an interested witness, a partial judge and a prejudiced jury.
When in this book we speak of physicians in general, of their professional errors and prejudices, of their conceit and arrogance, of their indifference to truth, of their tender sensibility to the interest of their purse, we would not have the reader understand that we do not exclude from this general censure or that we deny in any way the existence of numerous honorable exceptions. In all classes of society and in all trades and professions, the common souls compose the majority; in all these categories are to be found individual noble men to whom truth is dearer than private gain. It is the misfortune of such men in the medical profession, however, that they are so controlled by the medical society that they dare not adhere to the truth that they know.
Medicine is a dead city in which the dead are determined that no one shall live. There are men in the profession who realize that all is not well in the dead city and who would gladly bring in new blood in the hope of reviving the rotting corpse, but they dare not do so. The intelligent practitioner is revolted by the hypocracy and narrowness he finds and the enemies he faces‐the inertia, sluggishness and sullenness, the dominance of petrified prejudice and the slavish acquiescence to authoritative fallacy. These men fear the cagey watchfulness of their colleagues, who bear down upon each other for every deviation from their class line. The physician who develops even an intermittent sort of tolerance finds that they get their knives ready for him at once and are ready to spring, like the wolves on the crippled member of the pack, at the first sign of his confusion and dismay.
These men may tremble with some internal explosive disgust, but they take refuge in the stale opinions of their profession when they dare not express even a little of what is going on in their minds lest they betray the hatred of their work. They seem to think that truth can be embraced and laid aside at will without addling the wits of her ravisher. Unfortunately for such men, the enemy— the provincial, conforming suspicious enemy—is not merely passive and mocking; it is aggressive, strident and criminal; it turns to black‐mail and violence; it is ready to frame and destroy anyone who raises questions it cannot answer. Are there no depths of ungentlemanly conduct to which it will not descend in its determination that nothing shall live within the walls of the dead city?
In spite of all repressive efforts, the carefully observant man cannot miss the fact that we are witnessing a catastrophic going‐to‐ pieces of medical science, coincident with a going‐to‐pieces of her practical structures. The best men in the profession have no remedy to offer for the decline that is so obvious. The blaring and racuous Babbitry that surrounds the medical practitioner, the pep‐ talks, the idiot drooling of advertisers and go‐getters, the medical society that has adopted the mechanics of American business with Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life 9 all of its psychological ravages and the mad pursuit of wealth or even a career in the business‐dominated society—a fierce scrambling affair that kills its victims and cripples its victors— cannot long substitute for a true science. So‐called medical science cannot be saved by any possible parade of miracle drugs. On the contrary, the more of such drugs are discovered and used and the more rapidly these discoveries are made, the sooner must medical science pass to that limbo reserved for the systems that are grounded in fallacy and sustained by force. As each miracle drug, announced with the great fanfare of trumpets and the idiot‐ drooling of medicine‘s publicity men, who picture medical practice as a glorified and super‐competent hack might, fails, it only serves to open the eyes of the people a little wider.
Nothing is so effective in the fight against darkness as increasing light. We have attempted to throw a cheerful sunbeam into the darkened ravine. In this last half of the twentieth century, no man‘s ipse dixit satisfies the investigating mind. A man must show his colors. The time draws near when a man or a profession must come before the world able to give a rationale or the why and wherefore of his profession or calling or meet the disapprobation of this inquiring age. As knowledge of Hygiene increases, this demand for a reasonable explanation will increase.
We do not care a peanut for the medical profession. It is the people that we seek to reach and convince. The profession is so securely wrapped up in its “official ignorance” and so determined to preserve itself from reproach that it is blind to simple truths that any intelligent person can understand. The people are glad to read the message of Hygiene and learn of the fountain of health of which it treats.
In the words of Trall: “We aim to be radically right, to teach exact truth, to expose and condemn everything that is false and erroneous, hence our exclusiveness.” A truth cannot be killed. Her champions may be imprisoned, tortured and put to death; but truth will forever be triumphant. Acceptance of a new truth may be impeded; it may be delayed; but it cannot be prevented. We ask the reader to listen candidly to what we say in the coming pages and to give our statements that measure of reflection which their intrinsic importance and your suffering condition would seem to demand.
We know there are people who have grown up from infancy in the faith in drugs and who have resorted to them regularly for palliation and who have been sedulously taught to look to poisonous and destroying substances as their only recourse when sick, to whom what we say in this book will seem nonsense. All that we ask of the reader is that he enter into his studies of Hygiene with integrity, with intelligent zeal, with devotion and consecration to truth, with courage born of an unshakable confidence in the laws of life. Let a man thoroughly understand himself or the laws that govern his being and nothing can stand in his way of becoming a Natural Hygienist. If people were honest with themselves, nothing would stand in their way of investigating the principles of nature and their genuine relations to the things in their environment. They would not depend upon their physicians and their mysterious “remedies.”
Let us not be misled by the popular sophistry: these things relate to the body only, the others are for the glorious mind and for the immortal spirit. This deprecation of the marvelous body ill becomes intelligent beings. The mind and spirit are dependent upon the body. Altogether too many people assume a fondness for science and talk learnedly of the laws of nature, especially such as are at a distance and do not infringe upon ourselves, but shy away from many a physiological truth.
We never argue for ignorance in any other department of human knowledge. We never argue for the neglect of mathematics, or language, or painting, or poetry or sculpture. But it should be obvious that, important as are these branches of knowledge, a knowledge of the science of life, of the science of man, is of infinitely greater importance. Let us know the laws of grammar and those of mathematics; but, first of all, let us study the laws of life.
Our land is filled with sick people. A voice of sorrow, a wail of anguish and despair comes to us from every quarter—from town and country, from rude cabins and nobler tenements—it comes beseeching help and none can supply that help but Hygienists. How much longer, then, shall we hesitate to adopt a system that is laid in the principles of nature?
The spectacular changes in the human condition that will result from the full development of the possibilities that man‘s Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life 11 technological advances have made possible stagger the imagination. If the whole of mankind were organized (socially) to completely harness the technological revolution and to develop, without waste, the earth‘s natural resources, the radical transformation in the condition of human life would transcend any change that has yet occurred in the history of the race. It is the work of the Hygienic movement to bring a full realization of this possibility to the people of the world.
What is the real objective of the Hygienic movement? What constitutes its soul or its life? What does it signify to humanity? How much meaning has it? What are the truths that underlie it— what is it that it seeks to bring into being? Is it to play a mere auxiliary part to the terrible system of drug medication (poisoning), which has become, world over, an overshadowing curse? The answer to these questions is that Hygiene must destroy, root and branch, the whole drug system and give to the people a system of mind‐body care that is based on the laws of nature. In this work there can be no truce between falsehood and truth, between revolutionary intrepidity and sneaking, reformistic compromise. We are forced to attack and demolish a system that is as false as it is old. The work we are called upon to perform will tax our energies and resources to the fullest extent. But we do not for a moment permit ourselves to doubt that we shall prove equal to our task and that we shall pursue single‐mindedly and with continued determination and whole‐souled dedication the work that lies ahead. Formerly, we were too obscure to be noticed; now the eyes of every disciple of Hippocrates are upon us.
We must succeed. Ours is the continuing task of carrying to the suffering millions the message of health by healthful living, of teaching them how to free themselves and all humanity from disease and transform this poison‐soaked world into the glorious paradise it is capable of becoming and that modern physiological knowledge and Hygienic means make absolutely possible. For if we fail—if, for any reason at all, the Hygienic program fails of acceptance—all else fails.
In the consciousness of our great duty to the people of the world and to posterity, in the knowledge that we are right in all essentials, in everything that matters, and that mankind must ultimately accept Hygienic principles and practices, in the certainty that no other program will or can serve the well and the sick and the cause of humanity at large in this critical hour, and in the full realization that in the rightness of our principles lies our strength and drawing our fortitude and stamina, our resolution and our irresistable determination from this realization, we must not falter in our work.
As Hygienists we have much to do. Great responsibilities rest upon us. Hygiene comes as a savior of the race. If we are to fulfill our obligations, we must be teachers of the people. We must dispel the darkness of ignorance and superstition with the glorious sunlight of truth; we must spread a true knowledge of the laws which govern our being. As Hygienists, we battle against darkness and ignorance, superstition and time‐honored errors, venerable follies and false fashions, pernicious customs and depraved appetites. But we do not spend our whole time in the ungracious task of lecturing to people continually upon “the error of their ways.” Ours is a positive program that offers the people, as a substitute for the wrong ways of life, ways that are in strict accord with the laws of life. For their present weakness, suffering and premature death, we offer them strength, health and length of life. Beyond the present scene of strife, beyond the clash of opinions and the conflict of systems, we see a glorious prospect: we see humanity redeemed from physical transgressions; a world brought back from thousands of years of wandering, to truth and nature; a people recognizing and obeying the laws of being, conforming in all their ways to these laws, living in the uniform enjoyment of health, that great first‐parent of earthly bliss, and dying as the children of men were born to die, of a green old age.
Unlike other systems, Hygiene does not seek to veil its simple truths under mysterious and incomprehensible terms. It has nothing to conceal. It is open, clear, honorable, comprehensible. Its doctrines, theories, processes and laws invite criticism and court discussion. Understandability demands the use of language that is known to the people. comprehensibility is shut out by a jargon of foreign language terms and phrases. The snail‘s pace of medical progress is nowhere more confirmed than by the tenacity with which it clings to the use of unmeaning technicalities.
It is, indeed, no small task to undertake to eradicate from the human mind the accumulated fallacies of 3,000 years, to convince the people of the utter fallacy of the popular system, to explode all the false theories, to clear the ground of the rubbish of ages and build up a new, a different, a true way of caring for the sick. But this work must be done. How soon it will be achieved will depend wholly upon the efforts of our co‐workers. The Hygienic movement is doing nobly for humanity in the work of enlightenment and has enlisted a glorious army for the cause of truth and health.
We affirm that the fundamental theories of the medical profession are false and absurd and that its practices are injurious. The basic dogmas of medicine have come down to us both uninvestigated, unexplained and almost unquestioned, from the Dark Ages, when they originated. Even to this hour they burden all the standard works on physiology, pathology, pharmacology, materia medica and therapeutics.
The drug system of medical practice is hoary with age and has upon its skirts the blood of myriads of victims. It is lofty in its pretensions and domineering in its demeanor. These lofty pretensions shall be examined and this insolence shall, perhaps, be well treated with the consideration it merits. Its leading advocates are learned men, but so have been the advocates of many false systems and theories that have been fatal to truth and destructive to the welfare of humanity. False theories, those specious and plausible, are the more dangerous in proportion to the difficulty of stripping them of their disguise and exposing them in their naked ugliness to the gaze of the outraged and diseased world. Among medicine‘s pretended means of cure are about all the destructive means and agents known to chemists.
What is called modern medical science is a tilting yard for so many contentious theories that its pages have become almost impossible to read through the cloud of dust. Every medical journal we pick up contains a greater or lesser number of original fallacies or new editions of old ones. The fallacies of medicine are like the sands of the seashore—added to by every incoming wave. It would take more than a single generation to enumerate them. The medical science of today is like an ever‐revolving chain, each link of which is a fallacy of greater or lesser dimension, which appears today to disappear tomorrow, to reappear the next day, to again disappear and reappear times without number.
Because man has many false evaluations of himself, because he is ignorant of the laws of his own being and, instead of looking to Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life 14 nature for enlightenment, has pursued strange gods and become a worshipper of idols, he is a victim of his own folly. The principles of nature embody all truth; their proper arrangements into systems constitute all science; and art is but the application of these truths, these principles, to new uses in producing desired results.