Fasting for the cure of disease/Chapter 14

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"Keep the young generation in hail and bequeathe them no tumbled house."

George Meredith.


When the human child is born into the world, it is equipped with but three developed faculties hunger, thirst, and sleep. The infant, if capable of expressed desire, would signify its greatest need as sleep, but its rest is naturally punctuated with hunger periods, and at these times and at no others it should be fed. To awaken a quietly sleeping child for the purpose of administering food is most inadvisable, yet nurse and mother, burdened with professional tradition and advice, in overzealous care rarely permit a two-hour interval to pass without forcing food upon the attention of the baby, asleep or awake. The child will, through habit, take the breast and suckle for longer or shorter time, but its rest has been disturbed, and its small digestive apparatus is never free from labor as long as mother or nurse can stimulate appetite. Disobedience to natural law brings its penalty, and disease invariably appears to right the wrong. Feed the baby only at the dictate of the natural hunger cry, but begin the process at the beginning before a vicious habit of expectation and appetite has a chance to form. With the exception of inherited blood taint, overfeeding the child is the great cause of infantile disease, and it could not occur if the first hunger instinct were permitted to guide the infant from birth. Actual need alone would then be satisfied, and the artificial sense of appetite that might develop could be curbed and directed. At birth the physical connection between the child and its mother must of necessity be severed. One of the mistakes in modern obstetrics is the wide-spread practice of cutting the umbilical cord before the cessation of its natural pulsations. Interchange of oxygen and of nutriment between mother and foetus has taken place through this avenue for the whole period of gestation, and by this means alone has the baby frame been built to the moment of birth. Its final use and its last pulsations insure tissue-nourishment sufficient to carry the child until food for postnatal growth can be furnished from the breast of the mother. Nature thus provides for the maintenance of the child-body until the maternal supply is ready to be utilized. Haste in cutting the cord starts the infant badly, and hunger is asserted much earlier in these circumstances.

When departure is made from the laws of nature, abnormal physical conditions are produced, and penalties are exacted. The normal food and the only food that is designed for infant use is mother's milk. At birth delay in its appearance is often noted, and perhaps for two or three days its secretion is absent. Reference to the function performed by the umbilical cord directly after birth offers explanation why, in this event, excessive haste need not occur in attempt at artificial feeding. If, as unfortunately is too often the case in modern life, the mother finds herself incapable of furnishing food for her child, a substitute can then be obtained. The ideal method makes use of the wet-nurse, and, if this cannot be done, waterdiluted top-milk from a healthy cow, with sugar of milk or honey added sufficient to supply as nearly as possible the constituents of mother's milk is the nearest and best alternative. Prepared foods are doubtful in effect, and they agree with the child, or rather the child agrees with any one of the many kinds on the market, only in exceptional circumstances.

The contention that all disease has its origin in impaired digestive power is more strongly upheld when disturbances occur in the young than when the adult organism is affected. In the child, unaccustomed to continued abuse of the body and its functions, and with no harmful habits formed, the system resents any but natural treatment. If the contrary is persistently followed, disease develops.

The physical condition of a nursing mother is invariably reflected in the body of her child, and mental disturbances, temporary or permanent have like effect. Through nervous derangement of functional power, induced by disease or by anxiety, grief, or anger, such changes are occasioned in mother's milk as to cause serious illness in the suckling child. It is therefore incumbent upon the parent so to regulate her physical body through a dietary regime as to correct in herself the error in milk quality, and so to conserve her mental forces as to prevent systemic disease and nerve tension, with

B. H. One year old. Stomach and intestinal trouble. Fasted six days. Weight at end of fast, 14½ pounds. Eight months after fast in perfect health; weight, 25 pounds.

their detrimental influences upon infant digestion.

When infantile disease is manifested, a medically treated child is still more hampered in its physical processes. Drugs are poisons, and their introduction into the body of an infant suffering from food excess or from the results of erroneous diet in the mother, works havoc with tender nerves and tissue, horrifying to the mind trained on lines of natural remedy. Drugs aim at the suppression of the symptom and not at the removal of the cause, and many an adult body is compelled to struggle through life handicapped by undeveloped, partially paralyzed mechanism, as the result of dosage in infancy.

The disease symptoms of childhood frequently assume what is known as epidemic form. Contagion and infection depend absolutely upon the physical condition of the system and not upon the germ, always present or introduced from other sources. The care of the parent should be directed toward the preservation of health, with its resistive qualities in the body of the growing child; and, if through carelessness, or ignorance, or accident, this condition may fail of conservation, toward the prompt removal of the soil in which the germ propagates and dies. Germicides merely succeed in destroying the microbe, a process that adds decomposing material to an already fertile and expectant medium. And it is reasonable to assume that a poison powerful enough to kill living organisms within the body is of strength sufficient to deal destruction to cell life itself, and this it also does.

Referring to a former statement concerning the administration of food while high temperature prevails, the question may here be asked:—Why put food into a feverish infant body? A roaring fire is not ordinarily subdued by adding fuel to the flame, and, until disease made its appearance, the patient was ingesting food, and, in all probability, was stricken with a full stomach. Fever, as a symptom, is caused by absorption into the circulation of the products of excess food rotting in the alimentary canal, and, when additional material for fermentation is forced into this mass, either from above or below, the results are a rise in temperature and more aggravated symptoms. The further question is suggested:—Why administer drugs at this time? These are either stimulants or narcotics—the former increase the action of the heart and with it the temperature, while the latter reduce nerve transmission. In addition medical treatment usually calls for nutriment at intervals of three to four hours, and food is administered in the natural manner, or, when symptoms of an especially acute nature are present, per rectum. In the body of the child, the effects of both overfeeding and of drugs are longlasting, and here most emphatically the method to be employed should remove fermenting rubbish, the cause of the condition.

As in the adult, when disease appears, prompt withholding of food removes through active elimination the immediate cause of disturbance; an enema, or several of them, cleanses the bowels of toxic digestive products; fever is abated; diarrhoea and colic disappear; and in two or three days at most the youngster is again whole and hearty. For children respond to the fasting treatment in marvelous manner; their natural forces have not been depleted by years of excess in physical indulgence, and are present in pristine vigor. No alarm need be felt, since nature readjusts the little system most rapidly, and its functions at once resume their labors refreshed and re-invigorated. A fast until hunger makes its demand is mandatory in even the slightest digestive ailments of the smallest of babes; and a comparison of this method of treatment with that which requires the stomach to be dosed with drugs, and the very blood itself to be permeated and vitiated with the products of disease in lower animals in the forms of virus and serum needs no commentary.

Similarly the enema may be given to the infant, using, of course, an amount of fluid commensurate to the size of the infant bowel, and, if judiciously repeated, the colon is flushed of its poisonous contents, fever subsides, delirium, if present, ceases, and disease vanishes. The enema may be administered to even the day-old babe with beneficial results, for it serves to clear the colon from clogged and thickened secretion, and, when feeding has begun, especially if the milk of the cow or prepared foods are used, the products of their imperfect digestion are at once removed. The ease with which the fretful, colicky babe may be relieved by the careful use of the internal bath is a matter which every mother should understand, and its application at judicious intervals during

R. M. Age four years. Bronchial pneumonia. Troubled with throat all her life. Fasted five days. Three months later in perfect health. Now lives on a vegetarian diet, two meals daily.

infancy is of equal importance with its biweekly employment in adult life.

Whenever in a young child the slightest evidence of disease makes its appearance, whether in the form of nasal discharge, of constipation, of diarrhoea, or of internal pain, it should be considered as ample warning of loss of balance between nutrition and waste. Food should be at once omitted, the enema administered, and treatment continued until equilibrium is restored. If this method of handling the situation be consistently followed, no need will occur for later alarm lest acute disease symptoms or morbid organic structural defects, such as adenoid growths and enlarged tonsils, develop. Care at this time precludes dependence upon the knife of the surgeon in infancy or in adolescence.

Repeating the caution expressed in the first paragraph of the present chapter, freedom from disease in infancy and development of strong resistive qualities in adult life are dependent upon normal feeding in childhood. No food except as hunger dictates. And, further, the child must be permitted, not only to signify its need, but also, after it is weaned from the milk of the mother, to select within reason the kind of food desired. If no abnormal craving has been developed through forced feeding, or through food other than mother's milk, taste will not have been vitiated, and in its wants the child itself will pursue its natural inclination, the only law upon which health depends. Hands off! Follow nature! Do not attempt to act as her guide!

The moment that disease is recognized in its true character as a natural process of cure, the real and only specific for the child, as for the man, is discovered rest for the overworked organs of the body, and renewal of those functions that need repair.



The usual fountain syringe, equipped with convenient shut-off and with two small-sized rectal tips.

A low chair, admitting of holding the recumbent child in the lap at a height slightly above the level of the bowl of the toilet.

Two pieces of rubber sheeting, each one yard in length. Throw one piece over the top edge of the raised seat of the toilet, draping it so as to receive spatterings or forcibly ejected discharges from the bowel. Place the other piece of sheeting half over the lap of the operator, permitting its free end to cover the front edge of the toilet bowl with sufficient length dropping over the edge to convey discharges into the receptacle. A folded Turkish towel should be laid over the end of the sheeting on the lap in such position as to raise the buttocks of the child slightly and to prevent contact with the surface of the sheeting.

The operator should sit with her right side next to the bowl of the toilet with the infant lying upon its back across the knees.

Care must be taken in inserting the rubber tip into the anus, and the right hand of the operator should hold it in position while the water is flowing through the tube. Greasing the tip with olive oil or with an antiseptic lubricant prevents undue irritation of the mucus membrane of the orifice. The flow may be regulated by the shut-off or by pinching the soft rubber tube of the syringe with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand.

In small children, during the administration of the full contents of one bag of water, it is not necessary to remove the rectal tip

from the anus, since the liquid form of the discharge from the bowels permits ejection around the sides of the tube and avoidance is thus made of repeated insertion with consequent irritation. After the exhaustion of the water in the bag, the tip should be withdrawn, and the extra one mentioned in the equipment, unattached to the hose, should be introduced into the anus. Through it subsequent evacuation will occur the more easily, since the constriction of the muscle of the anus is by this means overcome. Neither pipe should be inserted at greater depth than two inches. At this stage of the operation manipulation should be made of the abdomen, following the ascending colon on the right side from the csecum to the transverse bowel, then across to the left side over the transverse portion to the descending colon, and down the latter to a position corresponding with its extremity and outlet. This is an essential that must not be neglected, since it assists peristaltic action and hastens evacuation. Never less than six or eight quarts of water should be used in giving this enema, and, if extreme discoloration in discharge still persists, even more fluid should be injected. The value of the internal bath depends upon the thoroughness with which easily-absorbed fermenting waste is removed from the colon, and this condition is not satisfied until the discharge returns comparatively colorless.