Ellen White’s Alternative to Drug Medication

9 min


3 John  1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Okay, so what did Ellen White advocate using instead of all these drugs?

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature's remedial agencies and how to apply them.—Counsels on Health p. 90.

In the Saviour's manner of healing there were lessons for His disciples. On one occasion He anointed the eyes of a blind man with clay, and bade him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. . . . He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." John 9:7. The cure could be wrought only by the power of the Great Healer, yet Christ made use of the simple agencies of nature. While He did not give countenance to drug medication, He sanctioned the use of simple and natural remedies.—Desire of Ages, p. 824.

The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel’s message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body.—Testimonies For The Church 1:486 (1867). LDE 80.4

Tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol we must present as sinful indulgences. We cannot place on the same ground, meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and such articles placed upon the table. These are not to be borne in front, as the burden of our work. The former—tea, coffee, tobacco, beer, wine, and all spirituous liquors—are not to be taken moderately, but discarded.—Selected Messages 3:287 (1881). LDE 81.1

True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 562 (1890). LDE 81.2

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies.—The Ministry of Healing, 127 (1905). LDE 81.3

Whatever injures the health not only lessens physical vigor but tends to weaken the mental and moral powers. Indulgence in any unhealthful practice makes it more difficult for one to discriminate between right and wrong and hence more difficult to resist evil.—The Ministry of Healing, 128 (1905). LDE 81.4

Return to the Original Diet

God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design—that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view and endeavor to work steadily toward it.—Counsels on Health, 450 (1890). LDE 81.5

Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat eating who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God’s people, to walk no more with them.—The Review and Herald, May 27, 1902. LDE 82.1

The Use of Remedies

To Alleviate Pain and Restore Health

Employ Every Facility—It is not a denial of faith to use such remedies as God has provided to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work of restoration. It is no denial of faith [for the sick who request prayer for healing] to cooperate with God, and place themselves in the condition most favorable to recovery. God has put it in our power to obtain a knowledge of the laws of life. This knowledge has been placed within our reach for use. We should employ every facility for the restoration of health, taking every advantage possible, working in harmony with natural laws.—The Ministry of Healing, 231, 232 (1905). 2SM 286.1

Use the Means Within Our Reach—The idea which you hold, that no remedies should be used for the sick, is an error. God does not heal the sick without the aid of the means of healing which lie within the reach of man; or when men refuse to be benefited by the simple remedies that God has provided in pure air and water. 2SM 286.2

There were physicians in Christ’s day and in the days of the apostles. Luke is called the beloved physician. He trusted in the Lord to make him skillful in the application of remedies. 2SM 286.3

When the Lord told Hezekiah that He would spare his life for fifteen years, and as a sign that He would fulfill His promise, caused the sun to go back ten degrees, why did He not put His direct, restoring power upon the king? He told him to apply a bunch of figs to his sore, and that natural remedy, blessed by God, healed him. The God of nature directs the human agent to use natural remedies now. 2SM 286.4

I might go to any length in this matter, my brother, but I leave it now with a few instances. [Then follow the accounts of two instances of the use of charcoal. See chapter 30.] 2SM 287.1

All these things teach us that we are to be very careful lest we receive radical ideas and impressions. Your ideas regarding drug medication, I must respect; but even in this you must not always let the patients know that you discard drugs entirely, until they become intelligent on the subject. You often place yourself in positions where you hurt your influence and do no one any good, by expressing all your convictions. Thus you cut yourself away from the people. You should modify your strong prejudices.—Letter 182, 1899 (To a worker in an overseas field).2SM 287.2

God’s Remedies—There are many ways of practicing the healing art, but there is only one way that Heaven approves.God’s remedies are the simple agencies of nature that will not tax or debilitate the system through their powerful properties.Pure air and water, cleanliness, a proper diet, purity of life, and a firm trust in God are remedies for the want of which thousands are dying; yet these remedies are going out of date because their skillful use requires work that the people do not appreciate. Fresh air, exercise, pure water, and clean, sweet premises are within the reach of all with but little expense; but drugs are expensive, both in the outlay of means and in the effect produced upon the system.—Testimonies for the Church 5:443 (1885). 2SM 287.3

Use the Simplest Remedies—Nature will want some assistance to bring things to their proper condition, which may be found in the simplest remedies, especially in the use of nature’s own furnished remedies—pure air, and with a precious knowledge of how to breathe; pure water, with a knowledge of how to apply it; plenty of sunlight in every room in the house if possible, and with an intelligent knowledge of what advantages are to be gained by its use. All these are powerful in their efficiency, and the patient who has obtained a knowledge of how to eat and dress healthfully, may live for comfort, for peace, for health; and will not be prevailed upon to put to his lips drugs, which, in the place of helping nature, paralyzes her powers. If the sick and suffering will do only as well as they know in regard to living out the principles of health reform perseveringly, then they will in nine cases out of ten recover from their ailments.—Medical Ministry, 223, 224 (Manuscript 22, 1887). 2SM 287.4

Remedies in the Natural World

Water Treatments and Simple Herbs—The Lord has taught us that great efficacy for healing lies in a proper use of water.These treatments should be given skillfully. We have been instructed that in our treatment of the sick we should discard the use of drugs. There are simple herbs that can be used for the recovery of the sick, whose effect upon the system is very different from that of those drugs that poison the blood and endanger life.—Manuscript 73, 1908 (Manuscript entitled “Counsels Repeated”). 2SM 288.1

Remedies That Cleanse the System—Christ never planted the seeds of death in the system. Satan planted these seeds when he tempted Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge which meant disobedience to God. Not one noxious plant was placed in the Lord’s great garden, but after Adam and Eve sinned, poisonous herbs sprang up. In the parable of the sower the question was asked the master, “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field?from whence then hath it tares?” The master answered, “An enemy hath done this” (Matthew 13:27, 28). All tares are sown by the evil one. Every noxious herb is of his sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares. 2SM 288.2

Then shall physicians continue to resort to drugs, which leave a deadly evil in the system, destroying that life which Christ came to restore? Christ’s remedies cleanse the system. But Satan has tempted man to introduce into the system that which weakens the human machinery, clogging and destroying the fine, beautiful arrangements of God. The drugs administered to the sick do not restore, but destroy. Drugs never cure. Instead, they place in the system seeds which bear a very bitter harvest…. 2SM 288.3

Our Saviour is the restorer of the moral image of God in man.He has supplied in the natural world remedies for the ills of man, that His followers may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. We can with safety discard the concoctions which man has used in the past. 2SM 289.1

The Lord has provided antidotes for diseases in simple plants, and these can be used by faith, with no denial of faith; for by using the blessings provided by God for our benefit we are cooperating with Him. He can use water and sunshine and the herbs which He has caused to grow, in healing maladies brought on by indiscretion or accident. We do not manifest a lack of faith when we ask God to bless His remedies. True faith will thank God for the knowledge of how to use these precious blessings in a way which will restore mental and physical vigor.2SM 289.2

The body is to be carefully cared for, and in this the Lord demands the cooperation of the human agent. Man must become intelligent in regard to the treatment and use of brain, bone, and muscle. The very best experience we can gain is to know ourselves.—Manuscript 65, 1899 (General Manuscript). 2SM 289.3

All to Understand What to Do for Themselves

Your question is, … “In urgent cases, should we call in a worldly physician, because the sanitarium doctors are all so busy that they have no time to devote to outside practice?” If the physicians are so busy that they cannot treat the sick outside of the institution, would it not be wiser for all to educate themselves in the use of simple remedies, than to venture to use drugs that are given a long name to hide their real qualities.Why need anyone be ignorant of God’s remedies—hot-water fomentations and cold and hot compresses. It is important to become familiar with the benefit of dieting in case of sickness.All should understand what to do [for] themselves. They may call upon someone who understands nursing, but everyone should have an intelligent knowledge of the house he lives in.All should understand what to do in case of sickness. 2SM 289.4

Were I sick, I would just as soon call in a lawyer as a physician from among general practitioners. [Mrs White is here referring to the “general practitioner” of 1897 in the backwoods of australia, from where she penned these words. The reader must keep in mind that until the second decade of the twentieth century, physician training was largely unregulated and was often meager. In many instances it was on an apprentice basis, supplemented at best by a short period of training in a more or less orthodox medical school. The medical profession was without well-established standards. The mainstay in the medications of the ordinary doctor was poisonous drugs, often prescribed in large doses. 2SM 290.1

The following facts show clearly that Mrs. White’s statement should not be used to depreciate the labors of the carefully trained conscientious physician:

1. Her many statements relative to the high calling and weighty responsibilities of the physician;

2. Her practice of consulting qualified physicians as attested by the published record and by those who were members of her family;

3. Her counsel to an associate worker who was ill, to “let the physicians” “do those things” for her “that must be done” (See page 251 of this volume), and urging her to eat, “because your earthly physician would have you eat” (Page 253);

4. Her many counsels addressed to practicing physicians presented in The Ministry of Healing, Counsels on Health, andMedical Ministry;

5. The guidance from her pen in the establishment of a Seventh-day Adventist medical college at Loma Linda, designed to provide “a medical education that will enable” its graduates “To pass the examinations required by law of all those who practice as regularly qualified physicians.”—Ellen G. WhiteManuscript 7, 1910 (published in Pacific Union Recorder, February 3, 1910 Words of Counsel).(See The Story of Our Health Message, 386, (1955)).] I would not touch their nostrums, to which they give latin names. I am determined to know, in straight English, the name of everything that I introduce into my system.

Those who make a practice of taking drugs sin against their intelligence and endanger their whole afterlife. There are herbs that are harmless, the use of which will tide over many apparently serious difficulties. But if all would seek to become intelligent in regard to their bodily necessities, sickness would be rare instead of common. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.—Manuscript 86, 1897 (General Manuscript, “Health Reform Principles,” written from Cooranbong, Australia). 2SM 290.2

Simple Remedies in the Sanitarium Program

I have received much instruction regarding the location of sanitariums. They should be a few miles distant from the large cities, and land should be secured in connection with them.Fruit and vegetables should be cultivated, and the patients should be encouraged to take up outdoor work. Many who are suffering from pulmonary disease might be cured if they would live in a climate where they could be out-of-doors most of the year. Many who have died of consumption might have lived if they had breathed more pure air. Fresh outdoor air is as healing as medicine, and leaves no injurious aftereffects 2SM 291.1

It would have been better if, from the first, all drugs had been kept out of our sanitariums, and use had been made of such simple remedies as are found in pure water, pure air, sunlight, and some of the simple herbs growing in the field. These would be just as efficacious as the drugs used under mysterious names, and concocted by human science. And they would leave no injurious effects in the system. 2SM 291.2

Thousands who are afflicted might recover their health if, instead of depending upon the drugstore for their life, they would discard all drugs, and live simply, without using tea, coffee, liquor, or spices, which irritate the stomach and leave it weak, unable to digest even simple food without stimulation.The Lord is willing to let His light shine forth in clear, distinct rays to all who are weak and feeble.—Manuscript 115, 1903(General Manuscript regarding sanitarium work). 2SM 291.3

 


Ellen White's Alternative to Drug Medication

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