There are two principal methods of treating disease. One is the combative, the other the preventive. The trend of modern medical research and practice in our great colleges and endowed research institutes is almost entirely along combative lines, while the individual, progressive physician learns to work more and more along preventive lines. The slogan of modern medical science is, “Kill the germ and cure the disease.” The usual procedure is to wait until acute or chronic diseases have fully developed, and then, if possible, to subdue them by means of drugs, surgical operations, and by means of the morbid products of disease, in the form of serums, antitoxins, vaccines, etc. The combative method fights disease with disease, poison with poison, and germs with germs and germ products. In the language of the Good Book, it is “Beelzebub against the Devil.”
The preventive method does not wait until diseases have fully developed and gained the ascendancy in the body, but concentrates its best endeavors on preventing, by hygienic living and by natural methods of treatment, the development of diseases. By these it endeavors to put the human body in such a normal, healthy condition that it is practically proof against infection or contagion by disease taints and miasms, and against the inroads of germs, bacteria and parasites.
The question is, which method is the most practical, the most successful and most popular? Which will stand the test of “the survival of the fittest” in the great struggle for existence?
The medical profession has good reason to be alarmed by the inroads made in its work by irregular, unorthodox systems, schools and cults of treating human ailments; but instead of raging at the audacious presumption of these interlopers, would it not be better to inquire if there is not some reason for the astonishing spread and popularity of these therapeutic innovations?
Their success undoubtedly is based on the fact that they concentrate their best efforts on preventive instead of combative methods of treating disease. People are beginning to realize that it is cheaper and more advantageous to prevent disease than to cure it. To create and maintain continuous, buoyant good health means greater efficiency for mental and physical work; greater capacity for the true enjoyment of life, and the best insurance against failure and poverty. Therefore, he who builds health is of greater value to humanity than he who allows people to drift into disease through ignorance of Nature’s laws, and then attempts to cure them by doubtful and uncertain combative methods.
It is said that in China the physician is hired and paid by the year; that he receives a certain stipend as long as the members of the family are in good health, but that the salary is suspended as long as one of his charges is ill. If some similar method of engaging and paying for medical services were in vogue in this country the trend of medical research and practice would soon undergo a radical change.