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What is a poison? What is a medicine? How do drugs act on the living organism? It is vitally important that we distinguish scientifically between food and poison, because they are confounded in the popular mind and employed indiscriminately by physicians, it being frequently asserted, as a justification for the employment of drugs, that "there is poison in everything." Due to the fact that the question: what is a poison? has not been satisfactorily settled, there is much ambiguity of language indulged by speakers and writers who are unable to distinguish between a poison and a Hygienic means.
Who does not know that for over 200 years physicians, chemists, pharmacologists, etc., have sought to prove that alcohol (a protoplasmic poison) is both poison and food, or either, according to circumstance? Of this substance it was said: "Alcohol is like every other chemical, whether it be a poison like strychnine or a food like protein--that is, there is an amount below which it is not a poison, and above which, it is a poison. Too much table salt is a poison; a little is not." Thus, one fallacy is used to support another; in reality, the fallacy is the same in each instance. It is the fallacy that poisons are such by quantity and not by quality. Salt is a poison only because we get too much of it and not because it is intrinsically a poison, so with alcohol. Even if alcohol is partially oxidized in the body, all evidence is still lacking that this provides the body with any energy or usable substance or that it takes part in the useful functions of life.
As vital structure can be evolved only out of food, air, water and sunshine, we can distinguish between food and poison without reference to popular opinions. Every substance in the earth has a definite relation to the living organism; either it may be used with which to build and maintain the organism and carry on its functions or it may not. If it is usable, it is food; if it is not usable, it is, so far as its relation to the organism is concerned, a poison. This principle was early arrived at by Hygienists.
As Wm. Bailey Potter, M.D., said in an article entitled "Health Reform" (third in a series, the Journal, June 1859): "Eat a pound of bread--it will not injure a well person. The natural appetite craves it. The stomach digests it, and it is assimilated and becomes a part of the living organism. It is a food. Eat a pound of tobacco--it will kill you. The natural appetite rejects it. It is not digested by the stomach, nor assimilated, nor changed in the system. It is a poison. If you drink a pound of alcohol--it will kill you or at least seriously injure you. The natural appetite rejects it. Early navigators found that savages at first disliked it. So do children who have never used it; but such are scarce. It is not digested in the stomach, not made into tissue. It is certainly a poison. A pound of tea, cooked and eaten as food would kill any person." Thus, the distinction between usable substances (foods) and nonusable substances (poisons) is made quite clear.
We may now answer our question: what is a poison? Everything is poison that cannot be assimilated by the living organism and used by it to sustain life. Every substance that can have no place in the normal metabolic processes of the body wastes the body's energies in resisting and expelling it, thus inevitably inducing debility and premature death. In other words, poisons are those substances which the living organism cannot use, but must resist and expel.
That which cannot be appropriated to the growth and strength of tissue is neither food nor drink, but poison. If a substance cannot be appropriated to the development of living tissue and employed in healthy action, it is hurtful to the structures of the body. Poisons are such substances that are chemically incompatible with the structures and physiologically incompatible with the functions of the living organism. They are those substances which are not in any form or quantity, convertible into any of the structures of the human body, nor employed by the organism in the performance of any of its functions. This definition is true in itself; it lets all substances take care of themselves.
To reiterate: all things in existence are, in their relations to the vital organism, either foods or poisons. Foods are those things which the organism uses by appropriating them into the formation of tissue; poisons are those things which the organism cannot use in the formation of tissue and, hence, rejects. On the basis of this principle, we unhesitatingly declare that all those substances (drugs) that are employed as medicines are destructive of the structural integrity and functional vigor of the organs and tissues of the body.
All drugs are physiologically incompatible with the functions of the human body. Take epsom salts as an example: when a dose of these is taken into the stomach, there is immediate and great disturbance of function. Fluid is poured out to dilute it and to protect the tissues against its chemical incompatibilities, while the alimentary canal and the abdominal muscles contract violently to expel it. It is not conceivable that such a violent disturbance would follow the salts if they were compatible with or in friendly relation to the vital structures and functions.
When opium is first given, the preternatural excitement which is followed by stupor, delirium, convulsions and, if the dose is large enough, death, and in smaller doses, a lesser degree of the same symptoms, it is impossible to miss the physiologic incompatibility of the drug with the vital organism. A whole catalogue of drugs could be listed and the same and similar disturbances of function would indicate their physiologic incompatibility with the vital organism.
What phenomena indicate the alleged modus operandi of drugs? Pain, agitation, disorder of body, derangement of mind, nausea, vomiting, griping, spasms, trembling, dizziness, drunkenness, staggering, blindness, deafness, prostration, and so on to the end of the catalogue of abnormalities. Certainly these symptoms, feelings, effects, phenomena, operations, or whatever else one chooses to call them, are no part of the healthy or natural state. They are symptoms of disease, symptoms of poisoning.
When drugs are "chemically incompatible," as are all the metalic or mineral poisons, with the structures of the body, they corrode, decompose and destroy some portion of some of the constituents of some of the fluids and solids of some organ or structure. Take these examples from among the older drugs: carbonate of potassa resulted in ulceration and in corrosion in the stomach; an application of Spanish fly to the skin occasioned vesication (blistering), followed by corrosion or decomposition of the skin; tartar emetic or ipecec, applied to the skin, destroyed the cuticle and corroded or destroyed the true skin, leaving large scars where they were applied; calomel and mercury in other forms produced salivation, decay of the teeth, violent diarrhea and many other effects; sulphuric acid burned or corroded the structures like fire. Such results prove to a positive demonstration that drugs or apothecary stuffs are not assimilable by the living body, that they cannot be transformed into the substances of the tissues and that they are chemically incompatible with the structures of life.
It will now be readily seen that drugs interrupt the functional harmony of the body, first, by their chemical incompatibility, and second, by their non-usableness, which renders their immediate removal an object of particular concern to the living tissues, and third, by the fact that their very presence occasions vital resistance in direct proportion to the difficulty of expelling them. Drugs assassinate the human constitution.
None of the medical schools existing at the time the Hygienic System came into being was able to make valid distinctions between drug poisons and Hygienic means nor between food and poison. Poison is poison and food is food and they are as distinct from each other as life and death. They cannot be used interchangeably and any effort to so use them must result in evil consequences. The prescription of a physician lacks all power to convert one into the other; they remain the same under all conditions and circumstances. Poisons are poisons by virtue of their own elemental character. They are not poisons by virtue of their simple relations to some individual organism.
Substances that cannot be metabolized, and this means substances that cannot be transformed into cell substance, are of no possible use to the living organism in either a state of health or in a state of disease. The presence of such substances in the body can serve only as disturbing elements. They are foreign bodies and must be expelled, often at great expense to the organism.
Metabolism is defined as "tissue change, the sum of all the physical and chemical processes by which living organized substance is produced and maintained and also the transformation by which energy is made available for use by the organism." Metabolism is the sum of the biological processes upon which the processes of growth and repair of the cells and tissues depend. As it is common to confine the process to the cell, it has been said that "metabolism is the cell; the cell is metabolism." This, however, is a mere play on words. The process of metabolism is comprised of three activities, as follows:
From the foregoing it may be seen that metabolism may be defined as the sum of the processes by which nutritive materials are utilized and ultimately discarded. As substances are discarded, they require to be replaced-hence the need for a more or less constant supply of food materials to the cell. All of this involves another consideration that is not commonly noted by physiologists: namely, the kind of materials that can be metabolized. Metabolism refers to the changes that foods undergo in being appropriated and used by the body. It involves the actual incorporation of food materials into the substances of the cell. It is a large part of the process by which we live and grow and develop.
Substances which are not adapted to the normal processes of metabolism, whether introduced into the body from the outside or generated within the organism itself, are not usable by the body and nvaribly prove to be harmful. A sane method of caring for the sick will not attempt to force the body to utilize substances that are not subject to its metabolic processes.
The metabolism of the human organism is radically different from that of the plant. Whereas plants can appropriate and utilize elements from the soil, the animal organism is unable to do so. As a matter of fact, the animal organism will not tolerate the presence of soil elements in inorganic form, but resists and expels them to the limit of its capacity. Iron, for example, can be assimilated by the animal organism only as it comes to us in the organic combinations found in food. Otherwise, it is a poison. Although for many decades drug preparations containing iron have been fed to anemic patients in large amounts, no cases of anemia have ever been remedied by this type of drugging. It is stated by a writer in the Scientific American, May 1966, that: "At least 12 children a year in the U.S. die of eating the sugar-coated iron-containing pills (ferrous sulphate) that their mothers may be taking for anemia. In Britain this raiding of the medicine cabinet for ferrous sulphate tablets accounts for about 10 per cent of all the fatal poisonings of children. In South Africa, the Bantu, who drink a beer made in iron vessels and thus ingest 50 to 100 milligrams of iron daily, commonly suffer from many ailments partly induced by iron, including cirrhosis of the liver, by the time they reach middle age." These are merely a few examples of many evidences that iron is a poison when taken in inorganic, hence, non-metabolizable form. What is true of iron is equally true of sulphur, phosphorus, iodine, calcium and other minerals that form normal constituents of the living body.
Pharmacologists and biochemists have developed the habit of talking of the metabolism of drugs. For example, one man says that some "apparently normal individuals" have impaired ability to metabolize "certain chemical agents" and suggests that this may be due to "inherent defects in their cellular metabolism." Pharmacologists speak of the "concentration of the metabolite," meaning an end-product of drug metabolism. They speak of drug metabolites in the same way that physiologists speak of the metabolites that are the normal end-products of the metabolism of food. They also speak of the "capacity to metabolize the drugs," and of "drug-enzymes" that exist in the microsomes.
Some drugs are said to have "variable rates of metabolism" and it is said that "each person seems to have his own pattern of metabolism for these drugs" and that "the consequences of individual differences in drug metabolism are exaggerated in long-term therapy and may account for the variable time of onset for side effects." The pharmacologists have developed the habit of speaking of "drug-metabolizing enzymes" and of saying that "the importance of the drug-metabolizing enzymes in drug therapy is demonstrated by the prolonged action and high toxicity of many drugs in new-born infants, whose microsomal enzyme systems are not developed during their very early days of life." This simply means that because infants are "ill-equipped to metabolize drugs," they have less power to defend themselves than do adults.
It is becoming quite a habit among physicians and pharmacologists to talk learnedly of the metabolism of drugs when what they are talking about is not metabolism at all, but the mere chemical changes that drugs undergo in the organism as the body defends itself against them or prepares them for excretion. They speak not only of drug metabolites and of the body's capacity to metabolize drugs, just as though drugs were handled by the living organism in the same way as food is handled, but they speak of drugs that are slowly metabolized and of those that are quickly metabolized and of variability in the ability of different animals and of different individuals to metabolize drugs.
We are told that recent studies suggest that enzymes which metabolize drugs are not the usual enzymes of intermediary metabolism. Rather, it is speculated that they are the results of evolutionary developments that had to take place before animals could migrate from water onto the land in order that the organism could protect itself from a multitude of fat-soluble compounds which it would receive in its food. We are also informed that, in general, drugs are not metabolized by processes acting on substances normally present in the body and that usually they are not even metabolized in the organ where they are supposed to act. Instead, so we are told, their action is terminated by specialized microsynes which have a predilection for fat-soluble compounds. It is customary to go further in this discussion of drug metabolism and speak not only of the metabolism of drugs, but of their tissue distribution. For example, they talk of the tissue distribution of thalidomide. Distribution is the action of distributing, apportioning, arranging or disposing. To distribute is to divide among a number, a portion; share; make a distribution; to classify or arrange; to separate, as from a collection.
Within the broad meaning of this definition, drugs are not distributed. It is true that they are carried by the blood to various tissuesbut they are not apportioned; they are not allocated. They are not divided among the tissues; they are not shared by the tissues. As the tissues have no need for them, can make no use of them and must reject and expel them and, as they are poisonous to every tissue in the body, they have to be met with resistance. To speak of the mere carrying of toxic substances by the blood stream throughout the body as their distribution is to misuse the term and to mislead the unwary reader.
That drugs undergo chemical changes in the body, in the digestive tract, in the blood stream, in the liver and elsewhere, as the body seeks to protect itself from them, that is, as it seeks to lessen their toxicity and to render them more easily excreted, has long been known. But this is a far cry from the biochemical process by which food substances are metabolized. Drugs do not, as a consequence of these changes, become cell constituants and they are not used in performing the functions of life. They provide the body with no energy. There is nothing in the changes that drugs undergo in the body that contribute to tissue change or that help to build and maintain organized substance or that provides energy for the use of the organism. The drugs are simply "detoxified," altered and expelled. They never become part of the body's tissues; they are never used in performing any of the functions of the body; they form no part of any of the body's functional results. Drugs are not, in other words, metabolized in the body and all efforts to confuse the changes they undergo in the body, as the body seeks to protect itself from their chemical union with its tissues, with the metabolic processes by which foods are assimilated and disassimilated, can only lead to greater confusion.
It would be proper to speak of drug changes as metabolism if the cell could actually incorporate drugs into their substance as integral parts of their protoplasm and make use of them in the same way they do food substance. Inasmuch as this transformation of drug substance into living protoplasm is not possible, but as drug substance must be expelled as foreign material, it is not proper to talk of the chemical changes that may take place in the drugs while in the body as metabolism. If they could be metabolized, they would be classed as foods and not as medicines.
It is not enough to understand the normal relations of various substances to living organisms as a whole, for many organisms can metabolize substances that other organisms cannot make the slightest use of. Soil is food for plants, but is useless to animals. The tobacco leaf is food for certain forms of insect life; it is a virulent poison to man. Belladonna is poison to man, but is food for the rabbit. We need, most of all, to understand what has a normal relation to man. If certain types of organisms flourish in sunless caves, this is no clue to the needs of man.
It is so appropriate to judge of things in their relations to life by their effects, rather than by their names, that it is a matter of wonder to us that the principle has been so long overlooked. A substance is not beneficial or injurious because of its name, but because of its effects on the living structure. Without reference to its name, a substance is to be regarded as good or bad in its relation to the living organism in exact ratio to the beneficial or injurious effects it produces. All things must be measured by the same standard and accepted or condemned under the same rule.
It is stupid for physicians and pharmaceutical chemists to speak of the physiological effects of toxic substances. Their effects are always pathologic and experiments to determine their pathological effects are understandable.
It is not difficult to demonstrate that drugs that are poisonous to man are also poisonous to animals; that if a dose is large enough it will kill the animal if it will kill man. Chloral will hypnotize a rabbit or a pigeon; bromide or potassium will render the pigeon stupid; alcohol will do the same for birds; strychnia will induce spasms, coma, paralysis; chloroform will anesthetize a gold fish--but what has all this production of disease in animals to do with curing the sick? That poisons will sicken and kill both men and animals is well known. We want something that will restore health.
There is a large element of stupidity in the belief that when it is demonstrated that drugs will produce disease (coma, paralysis, narcosis, etc.) and death in animals, this demonstrates that they are valuable in the treatment of sick human beings. We must learn to respect that which saves life, not that which destroys it. Anything that finds its way into the organism or that evolves within the organism that is unusable and must, therefore, be expelled may necessitate greater than usual or modified vital actions for its removal-this is disease.
It was demonstrated by Hygienists more than a century and a quarter ago that the living organism seeks to repel or expel anything that is harmful to its constitution. This is to say, it rejects and expels anything that it cannot transform into living structure. Whatever is not a normal constituent of the fluids and tissues of the body is foreign to the organic constitution and must be resisted and expelled. As we will learn later, the actions of resistance and expulsion that follow the ingestion of a drug are mistaken for the actions of the drug; whereas, the drug is just as inert and passive in the body as in the bottle on the druggist's shelf. Perhaps now we can answer the question: what is a medicine? The body wants and can make use of only such substances as it can assimilate and use as food. There are no substances that can be so used in disease that cannot be used in health. This is to say, anything that is to be used remediably must bear a normal or physiological relation to the living organism and must be useful and needed in a state of health. When the public learns the truth, it will see the absurdity of talking about the physiological influence of drugs on the human body and will understand that no drug can have a physiological effect or influence, but that its influence is always and invariably pathological and that no man who understands the nature of disease or the so-called modus operandi of drugs will ever apply the term physiological to any disease-causing substance. Then the public will abandon the nonsensical and frankly contradictory facts of the medical profession and the practices built thereon.
Can a logical reason be provided why a person should swallow or permit to be sent into his blood and tissues by injection, a nauseous, noxious substance because he is sick? No such reason has ever been given; if it can be done, is it not high time somebody did it? It is everywhere admitted that drugs are poisons, that they are always poisons to persons in health. All of us are very careful to exclude them from our food and drink; we are well aware that if we take them into the body while we are well, we will become sick as a consequence. What person would dare to take an ordinary dose of penicillin, streptomycin or cortisone while in health? Yet, let him become sick and he swallows them, not only without fear, but as the essential condition of safety and recovery. It should be obvious that there is a terrible delusion abroad on this subject.
W. T. Vail, M.D., writing in the Journal (October 1858) asks how could one in wisdom and goodness "invite you to embrace and press to the very bosom of your life, the most deadly enemies of your being?"
He thought that "a demon might take upon himself to persuade you that the fair and innocent look of some poisonous element, so disorganizing in its nature that a simple drop placed upon the tip of your tongue should destroy your life in a few moments, might, under form of certain reductions and combinations, in consequence of some delusive temporary effects, be good for you to introduce into the life currents of your bodies, there to be diffused in contact with all the delicate tissues and minute fibers of your wondrous composition . . . ;" but he thought it difficult to conceive of an intelligent and philantropic man doing this.
The practice of poisoning a person because he is ill is based on erroneous notions of the essential nature of disease. In all the teachings of the medical schools, disease is regarded as something foreign to the system, as an attacking entity, and poisons are administered to war upon, drive out or destroy the enemy. But, as the truth is the exact contrary to this ancient notion, all poisoning practice is exactly wrong; it is nothing more nor less than a blind war upon the human constitution. When the great, grand, glorious and revolutionary truth that disease is remedial action, that it is the action of the living system itself instead of a foreign something making war upon the body, is generally understood, then the whole poisoning practice will be viewed with disgust and horror.
It is the general opinion that men die of disease and that they are sometimes saved from dying by taking poisons. There is no evidence that these are the facts. There is no valid authority for saying that disease is a crippler, a destroyer, a killer. No one has any evidence that poison is a savior. There is no evidence to controvert, but much to sustain the opinion that poison is always destructive to man and that disease is a conservative effort of the living organism to free itself of poison. It is by no means certain that anyone ever died of disease. There is strong reason, however, to think that all who have not died of violence or exhaustion have died of poisoning and that all who have died of exhaustion did so prematurely by being robbed of life by poisons.
Can organic function be restored and organic structure be repaired by means and measures that are destructive of structure and subversive of function? Can the exhausting narcotics and deadly chemical poisons of physicians, choking and irritating the bodies of the sick, the pungent, smarting compounds, the caustics, corrosives, stupefyers, the bowel-rasping, stomach-emptying, blood-poisoning, brain-disordering medley of poisons that dose the sick into a state of lethargy, muttering delirium and phrenetic excitement be expected to restore the sick to health? Let the truthful answer be: these things are all health destroying and too many deaths from slow poisoning are passed off as deaths from disease. Viewed in this light, the administration of drugs is seen to be a crime.
There is no mystery in this. It is not difficult to understand why poisons do not save us from suffering and death. The mystery lies in the fact that, after the truth is demonstrated, the mass of mankind go on to their destruction nevertheless. When one considers the immense masses of poisons that are merchandized in the drug trade, some of it so toxic that a small drop of it will kill an ordinary pig in a matter of minutes, one cannot help but think that human life is shortened under the drugging practice. It is a bit foolish to think that all of this poison can be diluted and swallowed at intervals in such a way as to promote health instead of impairing and destroying life.
Drugs never have a remedial influence, but their administration is always and necessarily attended by a loss of constitutional power. To bring disorganizing poisons into contact with the living tissues of the body is to damage and destroy, not to build and renew. The fact that these poisons are prescribed by a physician does not alter their relationship to the tissues nor render them adaptable to the purposes of life. Prof. Martin Paine said in the latter half of the nineteenth century, after admitting that all drugs are poisons: "In a remedial sense, however, we do not know them as poisons, but as among the choicest blessings bestowed upon man." How actually absurd!
However good and benevolent the motive that leads to the administration of poisons as medicines, it cannot alter their actual qualities, nor mitigate their hurtful, even deadly, effects on the powers of life. If they are poisons before they enter the living system, they must of necessity be poisons after they enter. As soon as the people fully understand the intrinsically poisonous character of all drugs, they will convict the medical profession of manslaughter and destroy their fame as healers and their character as useful citizens.
Medical men cling to their implanted fixations which were developed in advance of all experimental verification and before the development of biologic, physiologic and pathologic knowledge. The only relation which a true interpretation of facts shows drugs to have to the human organism is that of poison and no amount of falsification of nature can make this relation any different. What recent discoveries in physiology have been made which show that drugs (poisons) have the same relations to the human organism as foods? Medical authors neglect to give us even a brief account of such discoveries. The relation of all drugs to the living organism, even in those cases in which they may be useful, as in anesthesia, is always anti-vital. It may be thought that so-called sleeping drugs serve some good purpose, but it should be known that stupefaction is not slumber. The barbiturate physician might as well benumb his patient by a blow on the head.
It is not true that substances which are poisonous in health become innoxious in disease. Nothing changes its relations to the human organism when it is well or sick. If it is a poison, it is so once and always--under all possible circumstances. If it will corrode the tissues of a well person, it will corrode the tissues of a sick man. The unceasing clash of the organism with these unassimilable substances gives rise to pathologies galore. The body must maintain a state of perpetual vigilance against poisons and this reduces it to the status of a maladept.
When poison is taken, the powers of life are excited to increased actions to resist and expel it. This will be followed by reaction, more or less severe, depending on the prior expenditure. The introduction of foreign elements into the blood stream is sufficiently guarded against by the living organism and only men of science recklessly disregard these safeguards of internal purity and break through the defenses and deliberately introduce foreign materials, some of them highly toxic, into the blood. Many drugs produce no appreciable immediate damage but are retained, as they are eliminated with difficulty, and accumulate in the body and it is said by toxicologists of some of these that small amounts of such drugs may be retained in the body for months and even years.
Most people think that it is necessary to take drugs when ill; they must take them, if not for cure, at least for relief from discomforts and pains, so many of us once thought. But millions today are rejoicing in better health because they have learned that there is no balm in poison; they have been emancipated from the belief in the necessity of drugs and have been freed from their diseases. It is possible for every reader of this book to free himself from his slavery to drugs. The daily consumption of drugs as mere palliatives or subterfuges, to paralyze some aching nerve or to goad some faltering organ into renewed (increased) activity, is a practice that cannot be justified on any scientific ground. Today, the American public is practically pickled in drugs. Anodynes, analgesics, antacids, laxatives, cathartics, sedatives, soporifics, tranquilizers, for headaches, gastric distress, constipation, emotional disturbances, sleeplessness, etc. are swallowed by almost everybody. Indeed, drugging has become a way of life. For the reader to free himself from his slavery to drugs, it will cost him a little effort, a little resolution, some persevering effort, the exercise of some faith in the powers of his own body, some transient sacrifice; but the rewards are well worth the cost.
To call this poisoning of the life currents and the body's tissues a rational, scientific mode of treating disease is to do violence to human reason. Taking poison, so far from diminishing disease, always makes more work for it to do. There is no surer means of evolving chronic disease than that of treating acute disease with poisons. There never can be and never ought to be any congenial relationship between the living organism and rank, disorganizing poisons, no matter how these are sugar coated.
Man must disabuse his mind of the fallacy that when he is ill or that when we call drugs medicines and take them upon the directions of the physician, that poisons are transformed from deadly foes into kindly friends, ready to do him good in his time of need. When, with all the gravity they can command, the professors of medicine assure us that there is no other source under heaven whereunto we may turn when ill with any hope of succor, than the myriads of poisons that exist throughout the earth, we must think them to be laboring under a delusion.
Instead of the most poisonous and deadly substances being good for us in the days of our suffering, only the friendly and congenial substances can be of genuine service to us. These are serviceable in restoring health as they are serviceable in preserving health. It is false to think that what is poisonous in one circumstance or condition of our being is the very supporter of life in another, that what will destroy health when we are well can be made to build it up and establish it when we are sick. There is no more harmony between drugs and the sick body than between drugs and the healthy body. There is never a circumstance in which there is a genial relationship and adaptability between drugs and the living organism.
To invalids of every age and description, who are subjects of disease, suffering, weakness, irritability or despondency, who hope to secure a return to the normal vigor of their organization or to realize the joys and rich blessings of uninterrupted health through the agency of poisonous and disorganizing substances, I address this important question: is it logical to think that the causes of disease and death are also the causes of health and renewed life?