7. EXPERIMENTS IN EARTH AND WATER
With the growing simplicity
of my life, my dislike for medicines steadily increased. While practising
in Durban I suffered for some time from debility and rheumatic inflammation.
Dr. P. J. Mehta, who had come to see me, gave me treatment, and I got well.
After that, up to the time when I returned to India, I do not remember
having suffered from any ailment to speak of.
But I used to be troubled with
constipation and frequent headaches, while at Johannesburg. I kept myself
fit with occasional laxatives and a well-regulated diet. But I could hardly
call myself healthy, and always wondered when I should get free from the
incubus of these laxative medicines.
About this time I read of the
formation of a 'No Breakfast Association' in Manchester. The argument of
the promoters was that Englishmen ate too often and too much, that their
doctors' bills were heavy because they ate until midnight, and that they
should at least give up breakfast, if they wanted to improve this state
of affairs. Though all these things could not be said of me, I felt that
the argument did partly apply in my case. I used to have three square meals
daily in addition to afternoon tea. I was never a spare eater, and enjoyed
as many delicacies as could be had with a vegetarian and spiceless diet.
I scarcely ever got up before six or seven. I therefore argued that if
I also dropped the morning breakfast, I might become free from headaches.
So I tried the experiment. For a few days it was rather hard, but the headaches
entirely disappeared. This led me to conclude that I was eating more than
But the change was far from
relieving me of constipation. I tried Kuhne's hipbaths, which gave some
relief but did not completely cure me. In the meantime the German who had
a vegetarian restaurant, or some other friend, I forget who, placed in
my hands Just's Return to Nature. In this book I read about earth
treatment. The author also advocated fresh fruit and nuts as the natural
diet of man. I did not at once take to the exclusive fruit diet, but immediately
began experiments in earth treatment, and with wonderful results. The treatment
consisted in applying to the abdomen a bandage of clean earth moistened
with cold water and spread like a poultice on fine linen. This I applied
at bedtime, removing it during the night or in the morning, whenever I
happened to wake up. It proved a radical cure. Since then I have tried
the treatment on myself and my friends and never had reason to regret it.
In India I have not been able to try this treatment with equal confidence.
For one thing, I have never had time to settle down in one place to conduct
the experiments. But my faith in the earth and water treatment remains
practically the same as before. Even today I give myself the earth treatment
to a certain extent, and recommend it to my co-workers, whenever the occasion
Though I have had two serious
illnesses in my life, I believe that man has little need to drug himself.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand can be brought round
by means of a well-regulated diet, water and earth treatment, and similar
household remedies. He who runs to the doctor, vaidya, or hakim
for every little ailment, and swallows all kinds of vegetable and mineral
drugs, not only curtails his life, but by becoming the slave of his body
instead of remaining its master, loses self-control, and ceases to be a
Let no one discount these observations
because they are being written in a sickbed. I know the reasons for my
illness. I am fully conscious that I alone am responsible for them, and
it is because of that consciousness that I have not lost patience. In fact
I have thanked God for them as lessons, and successfully resisted the temptation
of taking numerous drugs. I know my obstinacy often tries my doctors, but
they kindly bear with me and do not give me up.
However, I must not digress.
Before proceeding further, I should give the reader a word of warning.
Those who purchase Just's book on the strength of this chapter should not
take everything in it to be gospel truth. A writer almost always presents
one aspect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than
seven points of view, all of which are probably correct by themselves,
but not correct at the same time and in the same circumstances. And then,
many books are written with a view to gaining customers and earning name
and fame. Let those, therefore, who read such books as these do so with
discernment, and take advice of some experienced man, before trying any
of the experiments set forth, or let them read the books with patience
and digest them thoroughly before acting upon them.