Facts About Disease
Bernarr Macfadden (1868–1955), internationally famous during his lifetime but almost unknown today, called the "Father of Physical Culture," nicknamed "Body Love" Macfadden by Time magazine, was a flamboyant personality, millionaire publisher, and life-long advocate of physical fitness, natural food, outdoor exercise, and the natural treatment of disease. He inspired millions of people around the world to live healthful and vigorous lives. He was branded a "kook" and a charlatan by many, was arrested on obscenity charges, denounced by the medical establishment, and campaigned tirelessly against "pill-pushers," processed foods, and prudery.
First, a little history:
How to achieve radiant good health through exercise and natural means was Bernarr Macfadden's central message throughout his entire life. There was nothing phony or hypocritical about his position when it came to practicing exactly what he preached.
Not only did Macfadden practice what he preached, but he did so with an enthusiastic mental attitude. He was a perfect example of how the mind can influence physical well-being. His bold determination as a youth to achieve health and strength molded his character for a lifetime.
The core belief of his philosophy of health was that toxins and low levels of nutrients in the blood caused by poor diet, lack of proper exercise, stale air, lack of sunshine, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc. were the real reason that people got sick—that germs would only cause illness in the person whose blood was polluted with toxins or contained insufficient nutrients. He believed that germs simply acted like scavengers. If the blood was unpolluted and nutritional levels were sufficiently high, then the person would have immunity to all germs. By no means, was he the first to advance this theory of health, but he was the first who was able to successfully present the theory to a nation-wide audience. Today, this theory is more widely accepted.
He taught that eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are important to good health. This was a revolutionary concept at a time when little was known about nutrition. The common thought at that time was that people should eat a lot of calories. Macfadden contradicted the popular beliefs about diet.
He was against the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, even drugs prescribed by doctors. He said that most doctors are just "pill pushers" who treat symptoms. To treat a disease, you must remove the cause. He opposed vaccinations. (As a child, he had almost died from a poorly done vaccination.)
He told people that they need to exercise regularly. His favorite form of exercise was walking. Besides walking several miles each day, he also organized walks that were hundreds of miles long. His method of walking was brisk, to say the least. He also prescribed calisthenics and training with light weights.
He taught that hair growth can be stimulated and that 20-20 eyesight could be restored. He told people that they should never wear eyeglasses, but do exercises to correct their vision. For toothache he prescribed chewing on pieces of wood!
He opposed women wearing corsets or any kind of restrictive clothing. He advocated wearing loose fitting clothes. He believed that the best shoes had no heels and were open like sandals. He went barefoot whenever he could, because he said that the energy of the earth came up through his feet that way.
He taught that sex and the sex drive were good and natural and that prudery and ignorance fostered all kinds of social ills.
He spoke out against the stranglehold that organized medicine had on health care in America. He spoke in favor of licensing drugless practitioners and midwives, naturopaths, homeopaths, and chiropractors. He advocated natural childbirth and that mothers nurse their babies.
He taught that air baths and exposure to sunlight were good and healthful. He believed that a cold plunge built strength and endurance. He is supposed to have been the founder of the Polar Bear clubs.
He believed that energy, determination, courage, and an iron will were vital to lasting health. He believed that physical exercise stimulated the brain to think better. He stated that by his methods all diseases could be cured including: all forms of cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, and venereal diseases. He was the first to propose that the President should have a National Secretary of Health on his cabinet.
During his lifetime he wrote over 100 books. He died October 12, 1955. He had been healthy almost to the very end, and the end came quickly. He lived 87 years, a long and productive life—not bad for someone who had been a sickly, weak child who wasn't given long to live!
It seems unbelievable that a man so well-known and so influential as Bernarr Macfadden could be forgotten. Indeed, most people of the present generation do not know who Bernarr Macfadden was. This is unfortunate, because he was an important as well as flamboyant and colorful figure in American history and especially in the history of the health and fitness movement. It is encouraging to note that recently people are beginning to "rediscover" Macfadden.
Now, for the article:
Lecture given by Bernarr Macfadden at his sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Disease to the average individual is mysterious. It represents a condition to be feared. It stands out before many of us like a horrible spectre. This fear of disease, of sickness, and the possibility of death resulting therefrom, is practically universal. Most of us fear death; we all desire to put off the voyage into the grate beyond as long as possible, but I do not believe there is any need of any one fearing disease. That may seem to be a startling statement, but I believe there is no need of fearing disease because it is really a simple physiological process. There are but few physicians that know anything of the cause of disease. They treat the symptoms. They recognize diseases by symptoms; they know nothing of the causes. They divert or in some way combat symptoms, sometimes they drive them back. They do not try to help the body cure itself, to help it in the eliminative process in which can be found a cure for nearly all disease. Now I would like to make a statement that may seem startling to some, and that is, that there is but one disease. In the various medical books you will find thousands of names of different diseases, but in reality they are the names of the different symptoms of one disease. Is that not simplifying disease in earnest? There can be no disease within the human body unless there is something wrong with the blood stream. The blood must contain foreign matter, or impurities. If you have inflammation or pain in any part of the body, it simply indicates that something is wrong with the blood stream. Of course, if you were to have a stomachache, it might be induced by eating too heartily, or by unwholesome food, but even under such circumstances, if the blood were circulating properly and was rich in virile elements it would often remedy mistakes of this kind, unless you literally make a hog of yourself; though I do not care to insult this species, for even a hog usually knows when he has enough.
Now I want to reiterate that there is but one disease, and that disease is impure blood. If your blood contains foreign elements, if it contains impurities, that must be thrown out or eliminated, under such circumstances most any disease is liable to attack you, and when disease comes upon you, it comes as a means of assisting the vital processes in throwing out these vile poisons. it comes as a friend in disguise. Now if ever diseases is caused by impure blood, then let us ask the question, how does the blood become impure? What causes this foreign material in the blood? To obtain an answer to this question, you will have to go back to the beginning of the blood-making process in your body. There are certain organs that manufacture the blood. Sometimes they make good blood, at other times it is poor in quality. If the quality is inferior, your blood-making "factory" is out of order. These conclusions are simple, they cannot be contradicted, I care not how far advanced you may be in the study of disease, or the science of body-building. Now the blood-making process begins in the stomach. Nearly every physician will admit that disease of all kinds can in nearly all cases be traced to the stomach or intestines. Disease begins there because if these organs perform their functions properly, if they make the right kind of rich blood, every part of the body is nourished, every organ of the body performs its functions, and you maintain your strength and health in the highest state of vigor, and you cannot know the meaning of disease.
Because of the mistakes that are made everywhere in reference to the nature and cause of disease, it is the universal custom to treat symptoms instead of the real disease. Every symptom is looked upon as a different disease. practically every disease can to a certain extent be treated in a similar manner. you can, of course, use various means for stimulating the functional processes of the parts that may be affected, but, after all, you would have to depend on the upbuilding powers of the body itself to bring about a definite cure. You must force the blood-making organs to properly perform their duties; you must compel them to make rich blood. No matter what your complaint may be, you cannot secure health, you cannot begin to build up strength, until you realize the accuracy of these great truths. If the blood-making process begins in the stomach, then you must begin to cure disease by regulating your diet; you must begin by eating only that particular amount of food that the digestive organs can satisfactorily assimilate; that they are capable of making into the right kind of blood. And when you have come to this conclusion, you will soon rid yourself of the idea that you have to eat three meals a day to maintain strength. That is one of the worse evils of the age—the belief that you have to eat three times a day, regardless of the demands of your appetite, merely to keep up your strength. It is not what you eat that gives you strength, it is what you digest and assimilate; and when these important organs are not in a condition to digest, you cannot expect them to do good work, you cannot expect them to make good blood. The followers of the fasting theory, who are growing more numerous all the time, have, on many occasions, smashed into smithereens the theory of those who believe you must eat three meals a day to maintain strength.
You will find many references in the daily papers to the beneficial effects of fasting. Some time ago a woman residing in the State of Washington fasted seventy-five days. she had suffered for several years with an incurable disease. She had been everywhere, he had taken all sorts of dope, and had tried eery method known to the medical world for curing her disease. She consulted a doctor whose specialty is fasting. She believes in encourage her patients to go to what is termed the limit in a fast. She believed that the patient should fast until the disease has been entirely cured, and the theory is correct in many cases. The longer you fast, the purer your blood becomes, within reasonable limits, of course. The blood then contains more of those elements that cleanse and purify the body. You may lose weight, but when suffering from disease it is usually the kind of weight that you ought to lose, but at the same time, the functional processes are cleansing the blood and purifying the body. In the case referred to, the disease, which was considered incurable and for which she had been treated for many years, was entirely cured before she broke her fast. In the case of this woman, she was fortunately, the possessor of considerable extra weight, which, please note, is nothing more than stored energy, and she was able to continue the fast much longer than could the average person. Many persons carry all through life a great deal more flesh than they need. They try all sorts of methods to reduce, and yet they keep putting food into the stomach, which is the real cause of their extra weight. If you want to reduce weight, stop putting it on, which means, of course, that you must stop putting food into the stomach. If you are following the idiotic theory that you have to eat to keep up your strength, if you will consult some one who has fasted for a long period, you will be enlightened, and if you will fast for a few days yourself and find, as do nearly all obese persons, that you gain strength each day of the fast, then you will surely be convinced.
Now, referring to the case of this woman who cured her disease by fasting, I would ask, what does it prove? It shows beyond all posssible doubt that disease is simply impurities of the blood searching for outlet. The ordinary depurating organs try to eliminate or throw out these impurities, but they are unable to keep the body free from them, and consequently they must search for some other outlet. Now, take an ordinary cold. You have inflammation, you throw off mucus, which is nothing more than impurities in the blood. These impurities cannot be thrown out, and a cold is "taken," and it helps your body to rid itself of these poisons. Of course, this view is extraordinary if compared with the usual medical theory, for the average medical man will tall you that a cold is to be feared. You should guard against it with the greatest degree of caution. Yet I firmly believe that it is one step toward a cure, one step toward good health; that is, if your body is so full of impurities that a cold is necessary to assist in eliminating them, and an ordinary draft will give you a cold, then there is need of some means of purifying the blood. If the impurities are accumulating in the blood and the nerves are not sensitive enough to acquire a cold, day after day these impurities continue to accumulate, and finally the blood is so full of poison that you have pneumonia or some serious fever. The body under such circumstances, becomes internally filthy and you have a disease the one purpose of which is to eliminate this internal filth. I know it will take the average person a long time to grasp this theory. Some may even look upon it with a certain amount of derision, some may even think it humorous, but if you will study the subject carefully, study your own body, and do not have too much faith in authorities, depend upon your own mind, you will be compelled to admit the accuracy of these conclusions and when you accept them in their entirety you will have to discard drugs forever. And if these theories are accurate the methods that are being used in all civilized countries in the treatment of disease are actually terrifying. If these theories are true, then millions of human beings have gone to their graves who might just as well be here with us tonight.
The principal reasons for keeping these theories in the background, is because there is but little financial reward to those who advise them. the ordinary medical practitioner who is broad minded enough to use them in his practice, frequently loses his patients. He sometimes loses most of is practice, for his patients are cure too quickly and the time soon coms when they no longer need him. He is not able to keep a patient very long. There is no need of prolonging sickness when these theories are followed. The methods of recovery are entirely too simple to be financially profitable. Take our own institution here, for instance. When a patient comes here and grasps our theories in all their wondrous simplicity (and this is not difficult for we do not try to make them mysterious, we want every patient to understand them), when a patient comes here and possesses himself of the theories we teach, if he is attacked by a complaint of any kind after his return home, he knows how to cure himself. There is no need of coming here every few months to recuperate. A visit to this institution is an education. To most people, in fact, it is a revelation. It gives them different views of life. It teaches them great truths that are worth more than mere money.
There is a vast deal of humbug everywhere in what is often termed science. If a man wants to bamboozle the public, he usually sets froth his theories in intricate statements that he does not understand himself, and nobody else can understand. The average individual noting their intricate character immediately concludes that a man must, indeed, be wonderful to comprehend such deep problems.
Showing the nature of disease, I remember some time ago hearing of a consumptive patient who acquired smallpox. I am of the opinion that it would have been difficult for him to have acquired smallpox if his former disease had been very far advanced. You all know the nature of smallpox. In serious cases it "breaks out" in sores all over the body, which eliminate pus, and when cases are very bad or poorly treated, the disease leaves deep scars all over the body. Now the smallpox in the instance referred to, cured the consumptive patient. In accordance with medical theories, a result of this kind is almost unbelievable; but the explanation of the cure in this case is simple. Impurities that were being eliminated through the lungs in the form of pus, which is quite usual in consumptive cases, were diverted to the surface and eliminated through the running sores which are one of the symptoms of smallpox, and when her recovered from smallpox, his body had been so purified that there was nothing left of his consumption.
Illustrating how the impurities of the body may be diverted from one source of elimination to another, there is a physician of considerable reputation who treats consumptive patients by simply blistering the chest. This blistering process brings about an inflammation on the outside surface of the chest and the impurities or poisons that have been thrown out through the lungs are diverted to the surface for elimination. This theory also proves that disease is nothing more than poisons in the blood, and when poisons are thrown out, the disease is cured. There is but little difference whether disease is acute or chronic in form. The chronic disease is in nearly every case an acute disease that has been made chronic. When you are attacked by the symptoms of an acute disease, and you ignore the causes by taking some drug to divert the symptoms, and if a process of this kind is continued year after year, you are absolutely certain to acquire in the end a chronic disease. To be sure, this chronic disease may be entirely different in character to the acute disease, but nevertheless it has resulted from your habit of preventing the body from curing itself through the aid of the various attacks of the acute disease from which you previously suffered. For you must remember that an acute disease is merely an attempt of the body to cure itself. Drugs are to blame for nearly every chronic disease.
The statement has been made very often that we are a race of semi-invalids, and there is much truth in the charge, but I believe in health of the right kind. Health that is exhilarating, that thrills one with surplus power, that makes one feel that life is something more than the dull, monotonous existence with which most persons seems satisfied. The average individual merely exists. He does not live in every sense of the word, and when the question is propounded, "Is life worth living?" many have good reason for hesitating before making a reply. If you are living in every sense of the word, if you know the meaning of health and strength of the highest degree, if you have been fully, completely developed, you are at times thrilled with the pleasure of mere living. Living then, to you, is beautiful, you are full of strength, you have a surplus supply of vim and energy. You are in complete possession of superior manhood or womanhood. When you possess such a power, an irresistible force presses you onward. Your pleasures come from activity. You are active because you love it. You work because you find pleasure in it, and when you fully accept these theories of life, when you learn the cause of disease, you are filled with self-confidence. There is no need to worry, no mater what disease may attack you. You can be self-composed, you can say to yourself, "I fear no disease, for I am so strong that I cannot be attacked by disease." When you possess superb health, when your blood contains the elements that maintain the highest degree of physical vigor, disease germs are harmless. You might say that they would be devoured or eliminated from the body as easily as water runs off a duck's back.
Then there is a theory that we have within ourselves the protective germs, and when we are filled with life and health of the highest degree these germs are always fighting for our good, and when they come in contact with the germs of disease, a fearful battle ensues within us. Imagine, if you can, a battle between the germs of health and disease, that some say is going on all the time within us, and if this theory is true, then all we have to do is to maintain that state of vigor which is essential to ensure that strength to the germs of health which will make them victorious and all their battles. There may be a great deal of "guesswork" in these theories, but there is no guessing in the theories of disease that I have propounded. I have proven their accuracy over and over again, thousands of times, and I have in my files thousands of letters that furnish additional proof. The editing of a magazine such as I publish, is a liberal education, and when I receive letters from all over the world, from persons who have experimented with these theories, and when they say, "I have suffered from this and that disease, and I've tried every method known to medical science and have failed to secure results, and after trying your simple suggestions I have been able to secure that health and strength that has been denied me for many years," then there is no question as to the accuracy of one's conclusions. They have been tried over and over again thousands of times, they have brought results where every known means advocated by the medical fraternity have failed; they are simple, they bring certain results in practically every instance, and it is a case of believing what you see with your own eyes.
Nearly twenty years have elapsed since I first had occasion to try out these fundamental principles. At that time I was considerable of an athlete; I was indulging in all sorts of athletic contests, and though I have been in the habit of eating but two meals a day for nearly twenty-five years, for a while at that period, I had been eating three meals a day, and I follow this habit because I am healthier and stronger on two meals a day than on three. In fact, I might say for the last month I have only eaten one meal daily, and my health and endurance have increased because of the change from two to one meal a day. Going back, however, to the particular occasion to which I refer, I would say that at that time I contracted a cold. I tried to cure it by increasing my exercise. I ran a number of miles and worked in the gymnasium to induce profuse perspiration. I thought I could eliminate the cold in this manner, but it was apparently too deep seated. I gradually grew worse, and I soon noted various symptoms of pneumonia, the knife-like pain in chest, etc., etc. The problem as to the means of cure finally became acute. Though I had never tried fasting before, I concluded to stop eating. I decided that the impurities were being fed by the food that I put into my stomach. In two days I noticed a difference, a slight change for the better, and I was practically cured in four or five days.
Now suppose I had gone to a medical practitioner and described my symptoms, what would have been the result? He would have said, "You go to bed at once! Why you are seriously sick!" I would have followed his advice, I would have been housed up in a room with closed windows for fear of a draft, I might have been fed on milk and whiskey and a lot of other "stuff," and if I had followed methods of that kind, I would not be here. I am positive of this conclusion because many years ago I had all the symptoms of incipient consumption, and after building the vigorous health that I now enjoy, I became an enthusiast, a crank, as many might call me. When I first began to search for a cure, I tried everything, all kinds of drugs and dopes. I grew worse, slowly but surely, and as a last resort became interested in exercise, nothing but exercise, and as I was simply dying for the need of some activity of this kind, I recovered. I built myself into a strong man, and the more strength I acquired, the more enthusiastic I grew, the more thoroughly I became convinced that drugs were needless, that the pretensions as to their being able to cure disease were the grossest sort of humbug. You may say that I am a little bit prejudiced, and perhaps I am; but if you had been compelled, as I have been, day after day for many years, to read letters from thousands of victims of drugs, you might be prejudiced against the drugging methods. I believe every man and every woman is entitled to superb health. If you have enough vitality to live, you have enough strength to be healthy. Life, if it is worth living at all, is worth living in its highest, noblest sense. If you cannot be a man or a woman in every way, you might just as well get "off the earth." Take advantage of every opportunity to develop your body, make yourself strong and capable. Do not let those around you dictate to you. This subject, my friends, is inexhaustible. One could lecture night after night for months, and not begin to give all the details that ought to be known by every individual. Every person should study these vastly important questions for himself. Do not depend on others. Remember you are gifted with the God-given power of reasoning. Use it! Stop allowing others to dictate to you. Don't allow others to domineer over you. When anyone gives you advice, tell him that you are from Missouri, and you want him to show you, and if you go on striving and struggling for these magnificent rewards, you are sure in the end to reap a harvest that will be satisfactory in every way.
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