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The natural test of what can prove remedial in disease-Remedies must harmonise with Nature-Effects of Food and Drugs contrasted-Nature's operations in Disease-The true office of the enlightened Physician—Deceptive teaching of Drug SchoolsAlleged change of type in disease-The theory that Disease forms part of the plan of Creation-Effects of Drugs in producing new forms of bodily derangements, distinguished as
Drug Diseases "—A list of some of them-Medical authorities respecting them-Suggestions by Sir John Forbes for the reform of Practical Therapeutics-The evidence concerning the use of Drugs in Disease summed up-Conclusions.
Ir is a fundamental law of man's economy that whatever does not aid the purposes of Nutrition must, when taken into the system, prove more or less injurious to it. The functions and purposes of Nutrition, as the sole sustainer of Life and Health, have been already described; and we have seen that the primary source of disease is mal-Nutrition. Nature has thus supplied an infallible test by which to try all things that may be proposed as remedial in disease-they must be in harmony with the purposes of Nutrition they must aid and sustain Nutrition itselfthey must conduce to its perfect existence and action, not derange and corrupt, thwart or pervert it.
Now, whatever does not assimilate with the human system, that is, whatever does not contribute to the purposes of perfect Nutrition-feeding and sustaining vitality-must necessarily be non-natural to the system, and more or less injurious. And for this obvious reason, that whatever is so introduced into the
system the vital principle seeks forthwith to expel; but as its expulsion cannot be effected without an expenditure of vital force, consequently a waste of that force takes place, the inevitable effect of which is to leave the system in a weaker condition than it was in before.
Hence the sensations of exhaustive weariness and languor so sensibly experienced, according to the state of the system, after the active effects of Medicines have passed away, and the vitiated craving that supervenes for something to "stimulate" and "sustain." "" This is a reaction which must always follow, whenever an unnatural tax is imposed on vital energy by drugging or anything else. As Dr. Trall observes :
"In a strict sense, anything which is not food is poison. Drugs and medicines of all kinds, whether derived from the animal, mineral, or vegetable kingdom, are poisons, and nothing else. Every chemical substance in the universe is a poison to the living organism. So are many organic products, as tobacco, lobelia, henbane, opium, etc. All of the acid, alkaline, earthy, and mineral ingredients-sulphur, iron, iodine, etc.—which are found in medicinal springs-are so many poisons. The rule to determine whether a substance has a normal or abnormal relation to the living organism-whether it is a food or a poison—is simply this: If it is usable in the normal processes-if it is convertible into tissue-it is food; if not, it is abnormal and poisonous."-Water Cure, etc., p. 41.
By contrasting the effects of Food on the human system and of Drugs, the laws of our economy, in this respect, will be more clearly illustrated.
Food, as already explained, when taken into the stomach is converted by the digestive process into chyme, which then passes from the stomach into the intestinal portion of the alimentary canal, and becomes chyle, by the complete separation of the nutritious from the excrementitious portions. Further chemical and vitalising changes then take place, by which the chyle, in its passage to the heart, is converted into blood, which, after being subjected to the purifying process of the lung circulation, becomes pure arterial blood, and enters upon its grand duty of conveying healthy nutritive particles to feed and sustain every tissue and part of the human body-becoming, as Carpenter
says, "the pabulum vitæ for the whole system." Here, then, we have Food performing its natural part in healthy Nutrition. -feeding, sustaining, and invigorating Vital Power, not exhausting and wasting it, or corrupting its sources.
Contrast with this, the effects that follow the swallowing of such every-day Medicine as simple purgative preparations to relieve ordinary constipation. The almost universal belief is, that purgatives, when swallowed, pass directly from the stomach into the bowels, and, sweeping all before them, thus effect the desired purpose. But this is not their effect, nor anything like the process that takes place—it is, however, one of the many popular and fatal delusions which encircle the whole subject of Medicine. To be followed by the effects desired, purgatives must first mingle with the blood, and poison it more or less, because all soluble substances whatever, when introduced into the stomach, are taken up by the absorbents and veins at once into the blood. As that able physiologist, Sylvester Graham, observes: "When indigestible substances"—that is, non-nutritious substances-" are received into the stomach in aqueous solution, they are absorbed with the water, and pass into the vital domain with no apparent change." But besides poisoning the blood-"the pabulum vitæ for the whole system," the other deleterious effects that follow are thus correctly and graphically described by Dr. Edward Johnson :
"By introducing first into the stomach, and, through it, into the blood, certain acrid and irritating substances called purgatives, the stomach, which was healthy before, is now nauseated, its lining membrane inflamed, its nerves irritated, and its functions disturbed. Its peace and quiet, if I may so speak, is interrupted and broken. From the stomach the irritating substance passes by absorption directly into the blood. Mingled with the blood it is circulated through all the organs-through the heart, through the lungs, through the brain—which it irritates in their turn; till presently that remarkable power called the conservative principle, and which is ever on the watch to preserve the living machine from injury, takes the alarm, and a violent effort is made to free the blood from its poisonous presence; and its expulsion is finally effected through the bowels."-Practice of Hydropathy, p. 80.
Thus, one of the most palpable effects of introducing pur
gatives into the system is a general disturbance of the functions of nutrition, and a consequent waste of vitality in effecting their expulsion. And this is equally true of all drugs-of all indigestible, non-nutritious substances that do not assimilate with the human system-that do not contribute to the formation of healthy blood as food does.
But it may be said that, by the ultimate evacuation of the bowels, the purgatives effected the desired purpose, and, therefore, that drugging is a good process-a salutary system. A non-sequitur like this, that violates logical induction and outrages common-sense, cannot pass current outside medical schools. That such effects on the bowels do generally follow from the swallowing of purgatives may be assumed, but suppose the same effects could be always confidently calculated on, which they cannot suppose there was a positive certainty that the same purgatives and doses would invariably produce the same results, which there is not-suppose that constipation could be cured by one, two, a dozen, or ten dozen doses of all or any of the purgatives in the Pharmacopoeia, which it cannot-and suppose no other natural and safe way of effectually curing constipation was known, then, indeed, were these suppositions tenable, the question might arise whether so large an amount of mischief to the system, as purgatives are always certain to produce, might not be compensated for by the removal of constipation.
This question, however, never can arise, for constipation never was, nor never will be, cured by purgatives, or any medicine whatever. To perpetuate the pernicious notion that any inherent remedial virtue resides in any drug substance, is one of the most deadly vices of medical teaching and practice. If there was a scintilla of truth in a theory so demonstrably false, is it not self-evident that the assumed virtue would necessarily be equally active, cæteris paribus, in all circumstances of time, place, and individual? The food that nourishes to-day will, cæteris paribus, nourish to-morrow, and be equally applicable to every human being. But is this the case with Drugs, notwithstanding all their assumed inherent virtues? Are they always
followed by the same effects in the same individual? Notoriously not; while a dose that one man can swallow with impunity may go a long way towards killing another. The same food will, cæteris paribus, produce the same effect on the same individual all the year round-aye, for his life-time-satisfy hunger and nourish his system. But even Physic-Doctors admit that drug-substances possess no such uniformity of effect, which they should possess if they had any of the inherent virtues ascribed to them. But, on the contrary, after swallowing any given purgative for a time its assumed virtues fade away and vanish—a gradual increase of dose takes place, or other more potent substances are substituted. And this proves the destructive character of drugging on the human system; for it is wisely provided that by swallowing drugs which unduly excite nervous action, and are alien to the healthy economy of life, nervous sensibility to their presence becomes blunted, i.e., paralysed, so that increased quantities must be taken to excite the required disturbance, and this is called the "law of tolerance."
To imagine that any knowledge or skill possessed by any physician, or that he could possibly acquire by the most profound learning and the most matured experience, could confer on him the power of making any drug perform any natural function of the living body, or correct any derangement, or cure any disease, is as preposterous a supposition-as pernicious a delusion as any rational mind could harbour. It betokens the grossest ignorance of the human organisation—of the very A B C of physiology. Nevertheless it is a delusion that medical schools ardently foster and encourage that Physic-practice is designed to perpetuate, and a blind belief in which is the basis of its practice.
All the organs of the living body have separate and distinct functions to perform: those engaged in Nutrition especially so, as on them the healthy vitality of the whole is dependent. Now, no human power or skill can do the work of any of these organs, or by any means supply any deficiency on their part, and this physiological truth is a complete refutation of all medical theories that have been framed to countenance and sustain drug