NATURAL METHOD OF HEAL ING.—Within recent years England and America have witnessed an enor mous increase in the number of lay " healers," many of whom claim to heal according to the " natural method." It is difficult to explain what they mean by a " natural method of heal ing." Some believe it to be a method which leaves the course of the disease entirely to Nature ; others maintain that it is a system which makes use only of natural and harmless remedies, and which requires neither operations nor medicines for the treatment of bodily ills. Neither of these contentions, however, is correct. The natural method of healing, with its steam-baths, sweat-packs, etc., most energetically inter feres with the course of the disease ; and it is, therefore, by no means a natural, but in every way an artificial, method of treatment. Nor are the " natural " forms of application harmless ; for, like medicines, non-medicinal remedies cause by-effects which eventually are most undesirable. Incorrect or unsuitable employment of water, steam, massage, etc., may not only injure, but even kill, the patient. The so-called " harmless " methods employed in " natural treatment," handled by ignorant and untrained laymen, have often caused the most serious injuries to health ; and, as a matter of fact, the number of patients killed by " natural " healers is very large.
The early claim of these cults that they never used medicines has gradually passed away ; and now drugs in the form of " innocent " herbs and plants are widely employed by these healers. They even prescribe opium, morphine, digitalis (foxglove), and similar deadly poisons. Nor can the circumstance that they claim to cure without operations be regarded as an advantage by any thinking man or woman. After numerous patients had paid the death penalty for their faith in " medical art without opera tion," some of the followers of the system were sagacious enough to see that in many cases operation is the only measure that can save the patient's life. "Natural " surgery, osteopathy, etc., are the results of this change of opinion.
The adherents of " natural " healing have manifestly thereby admitted that a one-sided method, without medicines or operation, is not sufficient for the treatment of the sick. Hence they have adopted the view which ever since the oldest times has been held by scientific medical art—namely, that in order to effect a cure every means must be resorted to which Nature and art place at the disposal of man.
The " natural " method has, therefore, during its development of about one hundred years, demonstrated its own superficiality and the superiority of the qualified doctor. Unfortunately, this demonstration has cost many lives, and will continue to do so until this natural method is definitely dispensed with. That it still persists is due principally to the self-adver tising carried on by its followers in lectures, newspapers, and pamphlets, and by societies founded especially for its propagation. Not only do they promise to heal all patients, but they pretend also to be able to so instruct the healthy that they shall become capable of treating themselves in case of disease. And all these claims are made still more spicy by slander and aspersion of scientifically trained physicians. The " natural " healers thus appeal either to people's vanity, to their lack of criticism, or to their delight in what is " sensational." But by these methods they condemn themselves. Every sensible and rational person ought to understand that incurable patients remain incurable, and that no person suffering from a severe disease is able to treat himself. If this be not done even by physicians, why should the laity be advised to do so ? And every person who is able to think logically will know that the slanderous remarks and the unfounded calumnies of these dishonest competitors arc merely the waning cries of those that are soon to succumb. Regular medicine can look back upon a development of 2,000 years ; and in spite of all attacks it is bound to remain the healing art also of the future.