Fasting for the cure of disease/Chapter 16

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search



"Tatks in hours of insight milled

May be, through hours of gloom, fulfilled."

Edwin Arnold.



THE very simplicity of the fast in its application has proved the most serious obstacle to its general acceptance by both the public and the medical profession. Popular writers have lauded its claims in newspaper and in magazine. Books have been written upon it in the enthusiasm produced by the beneficial effects of personal trial, and cures by fasting have been heralded the world over. The consequences are what might have been foreseen. Regardless of the physiology of the human body and the rationale of the method, and ignorant of the physiological changes that the administration of the fast must involve both in function and in tissue structure, inexperienced hands have undertaken the treatment without guidance or the necessary knowledge of the conditions that may develop, and, in many instances, harm with unmerited adverse criticism of the method has resulted. If human bodies continued to exist throughout life in the normal state they should possess at birth, when functional disease appeared the application of the fast would prove perfectly easy in all cases. But, through constant wrong living, through chronic abuse of the vital processes, and, more than all else, through the paralyzing effects of drug dosage, the average man has acquired defects in organic structure.

In infancy, when disease develops, a drug is given for the suppression of the symptom. In some cases the children die ; in others, the paralysis, the functional ruin, of some portion of the intestinal tract or other organ is caused; in still others, the resistive powers of the infant are such as to permit it to survive despite the dose. In any event no true benefit has been derived, and, since the harm was done during the growing state, retardation of development occurs, and, in future years, disease symptoms may be traced directly to the points affected in infancy. With functional troubles continually recurring, these deficiencies in organism finally cause almost absolute cessation of the processes of elimination.

Careful observation of several thonsands of fasting cases makes plain the fact that the fast will perfectly relieve all ailments of a functional character, but that it can never wholly overcome mechanical defects in body organism. However, the fast will uncover the organic condition of the system, and will cause the nature of its deficiencies to be clearly displayed. One whose organs are functionally equal to the requirements of elimination undergoes the treatment with no unusual symptoms. But, when severe and distressing manifestations arise during the period of abstinence from food, it is virtually certain that defects in organism lie within. Post mortem examination of the bodies of patients who have died while the fast was in progress gives proof to this allimportant point, and, in these cases, it was further demonstrated that death would have occurred, fasting or feeding.

A drug, with regard to its effects upon the human body, may be said to be any substance which will influence metabolism and the functioning of the organs. According to this definition, foods, especially when of unwholesome quality, even though the quantity be reasonable, may react as a drug upon the system. Food itself, like substances regarded as drugs in the ordinary sense, may then act as a poison to the tissue. In like manner the substances formed in the body from the processes of tissue waste may themselves act as drugs in their effect upon living tissue. This occurs when elimination is inadequate. Hence the auto-toxins, through which tissue resistance, i. e., immunity from disease, is reduced, and the way opened for the large group of so-called infectious maladies.

It cannot fairly be assumed that, upon viewing a body after death in the fast, the lesions that may be present in any organ are due solely to previous drugging. Where two such agencies as disease and drugs have been simultaneously acting upon a patient, it is difficult, in the absence of criteria, to decide whether a specific result is due to one or to the other, or to both. But it is a significant fact that, in every instance of death that has occurred in the fast, as covered by the writer's experience, each of the subjects with but a single exception, had been drugged in early life, and that the effects upon organs, as shown in lack of development, were such as would have resulted from impeded nerve action caused by an active poison ; and the preponderance of evidence gathered in these post mortem findings lies on the side of drug paralysis.

The constant use of drugs to suppress disease symptoms in the growing child, not only lowers physical resistance, but also retards the development of its organs, in whole or in part, while bony framework and tissue-structure continue to advance to normal adult dimension. The disparity presented by organs of infantile size enclosed in a body fully matured is bound to cause severe forms of functional trouble that will end in chronic disease, since the undersized organs are not equal to the demands made upon them. The function that is predominant while the fast is hi progress is that of elimination, and it is easy to understand that, in a body in which portions of the intestinal tract are under dimension, or in which one or other of the vital organs is mechanically imperfect, the work of ridding the system of accumulated poison is beyond the power of the organism to accomplish. As a consequence, to the degree in which organic defects exist, is determined the severity of the struggle with disease, to use orthodox phraseology. In natural terms, the effort which is being made to cast out gathered impurity is made proportionately more difficult when organic imperfections exist. In the adult body, chronic functional disease or drugs may produce like effects, but here the organs concerned are fully developed, and the results are shown, not in arrested development, but in lesions, or in growths.

Whenever, in the fast or otherwise, because of organs undeveloped or functionally paralyzed, the products of elimination cannot be evacuated through natural channels, reabsorption of waste occurs, and the result is displayed in a general poisoning of the blood supply. This condition is known as auto- intoxication, or, as expressed before, the body is poisoned by its own decomposition. This state gives rise in the subject to manifestations that may become alarming. The brain is affected to the extent of mild delirium, hiccoughs appear, or the patient may sink into stupor. Mechanical means of relief in the forms of the enema and of general massage of the body must be resorted to and plied to the utmost in connection with hot applications to the spine and abdomen. In cases not under careful and experienced guidance the situation related will assuredly prove disastrous, and herein lies one of the dangers of inadvised and promiscuous fasting at unintelligent hands.

The fast cannot cure disease in a body organically imperfect, but the natural physician may direct its use for short periods in such manner as to ameloriate existing conditions and to restore the patient to comparative health. The real state of the body organism is so perfectly uncovered by abstaining from food that the individual thereafter is enabled to live within the limitations of his organs. When the presence of organic defects of more than ordinary seriousness has been determined, the protracted fast is most inadvisable, for, in this event, it is certain that the avenues of elimination will prove inadequate to exacted demands.

The intoxication that results from absorption of eliminative products has been said to cause delirium sometimes. This condition, present in the fast at times, gives rise to the contention that protracted abstinence from food occasions insanity in the patient. Nothing can be further from the truth, for, when elimination is successfully accomplished, mentality is at its highest; and, on the other hand, cases of mental aberration due to autointoxication from overfeeding are speedily restored when food is denied. In fact, autointoxication takes place more often when feeding than when fasting, and the overfed body produces poisons the effects of which upon mentality are more dread and more lasting than those of alcohol itself.

The sole explanation of the presence of toxins in the human body lies in the inability of the eliminative organs to function. They cannot dispose of the refuse in quantity to balance intake. In the fast, when difficulty is encountered in this respect, lack of functional power is indicated, and this is due in most instances to congenital organic defect or to early drug paralysis.

The physician who has had long experience in handling disease as a unity is not concerned in any sense with the presence or absence of the various toxins, nor by the symptoms in evidence, except as indices of the state of functioning of the internal organs. If these organs are in normal condition, excess food may interfere with function through congestion. But the vital parts of the human body are in many instances drugparalyzed or food-stimulated, and, medically speaking, they are brought into action by the administration of additional drugs or by further food-stimulus. Elimination can then take place only abnormally, with, in all cases, but partial evacuation of body waste. In the natural treatment of disease, the character of the toxin need not be considered, save in so far as it is an indication of the severity of disease, while the thought paramount deals with the condition of the organs rather than with the nature of the circulating poison.

The statement is often made that the fasting patient subsists upon his own body while food is denied. This is absurd, for the dominant process in action at this time is that of elimination of waste, which at no point was available for repair of tissue, and which, stored throughout the system, acted only as an obstacle in the avenues of vitality. This is so even of that part of the refuse that had entered into cell composition, since the presence of disease has made apparent the fact that this matter has been rendered harmful by decomposition through delay or arrest of elimination. The diminution in weight of the body during a fast is due to the removal of waste, and the change in cell life that is taking place must be continued until naught but healthy tissue and tissue nourishment remain. The new body thus created is then ready for the process of rebuilding upon normal lines.

The differentiation between starvation and fasting is made upon the basis that starvation is the consequence of food denied, either by accident or design, to a system clamoring for sustenance, and that fasting consists in intentional abstinence from food by a system diseased and, as a result, non-desirous of sustenance until rested, cleansed, and again ready for the labor of digestion. This might be admitted and yet not alter the fact that the processes in operation are largely identical. But it has been observed that the human body carries a reserve store of nerve sustenance, both in health and in disease ; hence, the process of fasting, undertaken only when disease is in evidence, is not at all analogous to that of starvation, which can occur only when the supply of nerve sustenance is exhausted, or, when, as is the case in instances of overfeeding and mal-assimilation, the brain is prevented from utilizing its stored nourishment through obstructed channels of supply. The patient may starve, though well-fed; and in applying the fast, keeping the distinction as stated in mind, starvation begins when the fast ends, or at the return of hunger.

The points of difficulty related heretofore are in a sense technical in character, but there are objections, that at times develop into obstacles, that embody personal opinion and prejudice. In bygone days, when medicine failed to relieve, the sufferer was left without hope, and friends and family prepared for the inevitable. Thoughtful minds, still in the minority, unbiased by tradition, have to-day reverted to nature for help in physical distress, and the natural school of treatment has at last secured itself upon firm foundations. In applying the fast and other natural means of cure, the tendency of tradition-bound intellect is at first to regard these methods as inefficacious because of the absence of nostrum, pill, and plaster. Nothing seems in process of action. The silent and hidden ways of nature, needing no bolus, cannot yet efface impressions transmitted through centuries of inherited belief in remedies for the suppression of symptoms. Complete revolution of this idea cannot be hoped for until education on broader lines gives universal independence of thought.

While fasting has been known for ages past as a preventive and a cure for disease, its therapeutic possibilities have never heretofore been scientifically applied. Hence it results that modern employment of the method places the practitioner in such position that no authorities can be consulted, and no personal guidance or advice can be turned to for aid in times of stress. Early years of practice in these circumstances often developed cases in which the patient seemingly declined to the point of death. Family and friends at once condemned the physician and the treatment, and a howling public stood waiting to cry, "starvation," It mattered not that the patient had been given up to die by orthodoxy, nor that the fast had been sought as a last resort. Oftentimes only the sufferer himself was in sympathy with the method, and his condition was aggravated to the last degree by opposition.

A state of affairs such as described induces in a conscientious mind intense concentration on the work in progress. No point that may conduce to favorable issue is overlooked; no natural law or accessory is permitted to remain without investigation. Merely selfish considerations might here prove motives sufficient for earnest endeavor the desire for success, the hope of triumphing over other schools. But a broader, deeper feeling will actuate the true student of nature. In him a perfect understanding of the law of cause and effect the giving of a truth to the world, the relief of physical suffering are the stimuli that bring success to his work and cause him to surmount the obstacles in his way.

The first discovery of the efficacy of the fast in functional disease was rapidly followed by a knowledge of its value as a diagnostic agent. The method never fails to uncover every weak point in a diseased body, to reveal the exact location of organic distress or defect. Then came the value of proper approach to abstinence through gradual diminution of intake, thus insuring systemic accomodation to the physiological change involved, and permitting elimination naturally to dominate the functions. Here, too, the enema and the bath proved of greatest assistance in disposing of eliminative products.

As elimination proceeds, the observer is permitted to greater or less extent to determine the condition of function of the various organs, and, if mechanical or structural defect is present, it is certain to be detected. The process of gradual lessening of food supply, in all save acute disease, is the normal rational method to follow first, for the physical reasons given, and second, because of ignorant opposition on the part of the public and the medical profession. Ample time is thus given to discover what is possible under a diet, and the necessity of continuing the treatment by a fast is fortified by the knowledge thus obtained.

When merely functional disease is in question, the case in treatment is simplicity itself, unless dissipation, excessive nervous expenditure, or serious blood taint, has largely prohibited vital expression. Patients of this class are ordinarily able to care for themselves throughout a fast of average length.

Whenever organic disease exists, whether in the form given in Class 2, or that in Class 3 in previous discussion (page 87), unpleasant symptoms are bound to arise. And at times all the courage and the wisdom of long experience in handling disease by the method of nature are needed to meet the conditions. Knowledge of the causes of delirium, of stupor, of any and all of the symptoms of toxic poisoning, none of which can be wholly overcome in extreme organic disease, makes faith in the method unshakable. When death occurs, it is inevitable; it cannot come except when it is not possible for the vital organs to function longer. The life of the patient is extended through abstinence from food, since organic effort is thereby greatly reduced.

In the event that grave organic defects exist in a patient, signs, more or less determinant, are expressed in both the time of preparation and in the early days of the fast. Serious symptoms do not usually appear before the third week of abstinence. And then these demonstrations may assume any of the forms of .weakness, even to loss of mental control. In the writer's own experience, four cases are noted in which at this period violent delirium, several days in duration, occurred. Two other patients were for longer time mildly delirious. But all, even those in whom death intervened, emergecj from the mental cloud and continued to dissolution or to recovery with perfectly clear mentality. It is in cases such as these that human helplessness is most apparent, and here the lesson is learned that man must cooperate with nature and follow her laws.

In examining a body diseased it is possible to locate by palpation, or feeling with the hand, the lower bowel throughout its extent, by using a copious enema after the intestine has been flushed of its contents. Filling the colon with water rounds it out, and its form and position can then readily be discovered through the walls of the abdomen. In all cases where extreme mental disturbance was noted, the transverse portion of the lower bowel had failed from its normal position to the region of the bladder. In this situation the contents of the small intestine, when discharged into the caecum, were incapable of rapid evacuation, even with the assistance of the enema, and brain congestion followed the extreme condition of auto-intoxication produced by the absorption of the ferment thus created. It has been dwelt upon in the chapter on mental and bodily reaction that physical disease induces mental disturbance. There can be no doubt that many inmates of asylums are curable through the relief of conditions identical with those here described. A regular physician, prominent as an expert on insanity, recently made the following published statement: "For the checking of insanity, the crying need is a study of the causes of the malady with a view to its prevention. Nine-tenths of the inmates of our insane asylums are incurable, according to our present knowledge. What an argument for the prevention of the disease!"

Other instances where organic development of the small intestines has been arrested in early life through disease and drugs, give rise to unpleasant symptoms and require most careful attention, not only in the fast, but in the after period of dieting. These cases never occasion mental crises, however. The latter are uniformly confined to instances such as cited above.

As has been said, fear, the dread of death by starvation, calls down upon the fasting patient, despite the courage of his convictions, the torture that follows acts in opposition to the wishes of affection. And, often, in sheer hopelessness of family cooperation, and in spite of personal faith and benefit, the fast is abandoned and drugs are again resumed.

In the fast there can be no danger of starvation. The great safeguard of all life is hunger true hunger not appetite. And, when the process of purification is complete, hunger returns and food must be supplied.

Skill in the treatment of disease by natural methods cannot be acquired from books, for there are none in print as yet with detail sufficient to cover all points. Years of experience in applying the method to ailing bodies alone can give the knowledge necessary for overcoming the difficulties that may and do arise. And constant practice and observation of the phenomena of the fast convincingly establish that the beginnings of disease lie at the threshold of digestion. Its seeds are sown in the mouth, while stomach and intestines, injured by food improperly masticated, and worked beyond limit by oversupply, continue and conserve their propagation. Impaired digestion and impure blood are cause and effect.

It cannot be too strongly borne in mind that fasting in itself is but a means to an end, a cleansing and resting process that prepares the human body for right living in future time. A cure cannot be accomplished until the individual, cooperating with nature, completes what the fast began.