NINETEEN years have elapsed since the author issued her first volume dealing with the prevention and relief of disease through fasting and its accessories. In each of the three succeeding editions details were added, new discoveries recorded, and all facts tending to throw clearer light upon the practical application of what Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey termed the "New Gospel of Health" were fully exploited. In this, the fifth revised and amplified edition of the work, it is hoped that, with greater detail and greater knowledge, still greater lucidity has been given in exposition of the truths that underlie the therapeutic worth and possibilities of the fast.
The book is written primarily for the lay reader. Hence, whenever a surmise is made or an unproved theory advanced, the attitude of the mind of the author regarding it is plainly displayed. Likewise, whenever absolute harmony has been accomplished between theory and fact, no doubt is permitted the reader in statements of truth discovered.
If science is to be defined as knowledge gained and verified by exact observation and correct thinking, the work in hand is purely a scientific record. The human subjects presented to the author for guidance and care have in all instances been those for whom medicine had done its best, or, if you will, its worst. Each case has been carefully observed; its organic condition and capabilities determined as best they might, the patient was fasted, if this procedure were indicated; or his diet was suited to his needs and the limitations of his organs. Therefore the results obtained are offered no misgivings or apologies. In accomplishing her work the author has been handicapped almost at every step by opposition that at times developed into persecution, and this by those who should have been first to welcome the physiological truths which the text promulgates. The research made, especially that which involved post mortem examination, was achieved only through sheer personal determination, assisted by a few broad minds in authority And it is believed that these autopsies are unique in the history of the healing art, for the author knows of no other investigator who has had opportunity thus to connect the organic consequence of disease directly with its origin. Moreover, each body examined was, for more or less lengthy periods before death, free from drug dosage, offering for examination tissues unaffected by recent artificial chemical stimulus or destructive change from similar cause.
Human progress has ever been associated with constant discovery, and it would show not only deficiency in judgment but actual mental incapacity to decry the achievements of earnest and conscientious seekers after truth among men of medicine. The author, however, differs from these scientists in a number of respects, principally because she has always been of the opinion that the outstanding need of humanity is public health education; and, while she has indicated that medicine is finally awake to this need, too many of its practitioners still are devoted to pathological rather than to physiological investigation. Heretofore the day book of the family physician consisted of a record of visits to households for the treatment of measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid fever, or malaria. The man was educated to treat disease and knew little of preventive measures, sanitation, hygiene, or diet, nor did his medical curriculum provide such knowledge. Too long has the medical doctor studied disease and death to the exclusion of health and life. Hence again it is stated that, while the facts presented in the text are intended primarily for lay intelligence, yet, since they are in all instances corroborated, earnest investigation should follow on the part of those men of science who are not bound by prejudice to reject every cult not sanctioned by the traditions and doctrines of their own system of practice.
The aim of medical investigation for many years has been largely towards the classification of the symptoms of disease and the segregation of the micro-organisms discovered in its presence. Because of this the medical physician may and often does delay specific treatment until symptoms develop to a point where what he considers an accurate diagnosis may be made. It is not thought that any intelligent mind will differ with the author when she says that the first things to be considered in the sick-room, the first things that the practitioner of natural therapy considers, are the possibility of recovery and the necessity for prompt and efficient action along lines that tend to the eradication of the cause of disease.
The gospel of good health is based upon the principles of prevention of disease, and there will be found in the introduction to the second edition of this work, published in 1908, these words: "No one knows better than the thinking member of the medical profession that the time is at hand when prevention rather than cure will be the keynote of therapeutics." That this prophecy, for such it has proved, is in part realized, is shown in the trend of thought in every recent article on the subject of medical progress in authoritative professional publications. The family physician now is urged to educate his patients and his community in preventive measures, and so to place himself towards his clientele that his chief service will be one of keeping them well rather than one of curing them when ill. This means that medicine, while still recognizing the specialist, also recognizes that the family physician as a class must form the foundation of all true health service, and that he must maintain most intimate relations with those for whom his guidance is required.
This is exactly what the practitioners of natural therapy have been doing for the past half century and more. For they have ever contended that true perception of cause and effect is the mother of the physician, and that in this understanding there can exist no doubt as to remedy. In other words, not man but nature is the doctor, and nature indicates her curative processes in the existing state of disease. And they who follow nature in her physical law further contend that whatever information they acquire of the procedure through which natural curative processes are carried on shall freely be given to their patients, so that in the future the latter may in great measure be relieved of dependency upon professional guidance.
The upbuilding and the maintenance of the human body lie wholly with its individual possessor, and he should be cognizant of its parts and of the conserving tasks which they perform to the uttermost degree of knowledge. Ignorance in these respects is a universal fault resulting from the custom of depending upon others for specialized information. The message contained in the pages that follow, if rightly perceived and executed, in large degree substitutes for a state of blind dependence upon unharmonized fact and theory one of reliance upon self and natural law.
LINDA BURFIELD HAZZARD