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The Health of Man - Chapter 13:
From Herbert Shelton's  book, Health for the Millions

True happiness depends upon the health of the whole man. We have all but forgotten the importance of the principles expressed in the ancient words: mens sana in corpore sano. Indeed, modern man has accepted disease as a norm of existence. Our culture fosters weakness and disease. Instead of preparing us for a life of health, it devotes a large share of its resources and much of its energy and skill to caring for a growing army of sick men, women, and children. Under the tutelage of the medical profession, we have become convinced that disease is inevitable and health impossible.

Human functions are designed to sustain life. All vital processes have as their objective the perpetuation of life. Man is tough and difficult to kill, and sometimes succeeds in living under the most unfavorable circumstances. He recovers from wounds and disease, even in spite of the most crucifying treatment.

In the introduction to his Aesculapian Tablets, written March 6, 1834, Sylvester Graham said: "...disease never results from the constitutional and legitimate operation of the human system. The end of every such operation is health, and only health; and therefore, if the body be in all respects correctly treated, it will continue, from birth till worn out with old age, free from disease and in the full enjoyment of health. If then the body becomes diseased, it is always the result of some disturbing, some offending cause; and the disease can only be kept up while such a cause continues to prevent the healthy operations of the system; and health can only be recovered by the healthy operations of the system. The system, therefore, does not require the application of any causes of health; for it exclusively possesses those in its own constitutional powers..."

If we can grasp tht health is the natural result of the normal functions of life, we can fully understand that its permanence rests upon satisfaction of the basic needs of existence and a careful avoidance of the conditions antagonistic to it. The maintenance of health becomes, on this principle, as Graham stated in this same book, "a way of health" or, as we would express it today, a way of life. His disciples well understood that they had to "live strictly on the system", rather than depend upon what he so appropriately called the "mere drugging cult."

Health is the outstanding evidence of biological integrity. When man is taught how to live within his biological limitations and adequately, but not excessively, supply his biological requirements, then will advanced age become the only serious cause of death, for health will reign supreme.

The normal state of man, as of plants and animals, is one of uninterrupted health. A healthy birth, a robust and happy infancy, a joyous youth, a vigorous maturity, a calm old age, and a painless death are the normal state of man. It is the existence man is fitted for by anatomy and physiology. It is in harmony with all nature around him. Every pain we feel, every distress we suffer is evidence that some law of life has been violated.

As we view the passing throng, we are stunned by the realization that those who look well and appear well are only so by comparison with those who are still worse. Our standard of healthiness is a low one, useful only in measuring varying degrees of ill health. We regard a man as well, even though he has been bedridden for years, if he improves enough to be able to walk a mile. We think of the ordinary man as well if he can run a mile.

If the man who has had jaundice for months is sufficiently improved that he is no longer yellow, we think of him as well. Perhaps he has his "bilious attacks" only once a month, rather than once a week, now that he has improved, but we regard him as well. Another man who has always been unconscious of his internal organs but who may be always on the very edge of trouble, is regarded as well, only because he shows no marked signs or symptoms of ill health.

Being well is by most of us understood relative to how badly we might be. We are so accustomed to being in poor health and living in a sea of death that we have set up and accepted a false standard of health. It implies bad conditions are healthy ones.

Unaccountably, we refuse to think that man should be as healthy as are wild animals. Yet, why shouldn't he be? Indeed, since he is a more highly organized animal with a more complex structure and greater resources at his command, why should his standard of health not be much higher than that of the healthiest of wild animals?

We marvel at the strength, speed, endurance and agility of lower animals; we even marvel at these same qualities in exceptional civilized individuals. We marvel at an Indian running a hundred miles a day; we think that he must be very swift of foot and as enduring as the strongest animal, that he may thus outrun the swiftest horse. But the obvious fact is that our standard of health is so low that we have lost the strength and endurance, grace and agility, that we so much admire in others. The Indian has no special qualities. There is no reason why civilized man may not have the same health, strength and endurance.

In the beginning man too was a splendid animal, possessing all the desirable animal qualities of health, strength, endurance, grace, agility, and poise. If civilized man is half dead, even when he thinks that he is enjoying good health, this is not the fault of his original constitution. Conditions and factors he has imposed upon himself are inimical to health and life.

We have no means of knowing in full mankinds primitive standard of health. How strong, how vigorous, how resistant, how long-lived were our primitive ancestors? We cannot use ourselves as a standard or a measuring rod by which to judge the health of our primitive ancestors. An occasional specimen of present-day man may provide us with a gleam of light, but it's radiance is dimmed gby factors absent from the life of our primitive forebears.

The health of modern primitives may provide us with some insight into the health of the past, but this is but a flickering and evanscent indication of what may have been mankind's original state of physiological excellence. Myth and tradition may provide a glimpse into the past, but this too, is faint. Even animal life has suffered from the steady encroachment of civilization upon it's domains. It presents us with a faded picture of the vigor and health that belonged to our pristine modes of existence.

 

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