General Disorders And Disturbances Of Nutrition

Degeneration of the organs of elimination, especially the liver, kidneys (Bright's disease) and spleen; pernicious anemia; lowered resistance to infection of all kinds; premature senile decay; retardation of growth in children, accompanied by mental irritability and muscular fatigue; adenoids; enlarged tonsils; scurvy; enlarged thyroid (goitre); various tumors of thyroid; Raynaud's disease.

In those who apparently suffer no harm from constipation during a long series of years there is perhaps, as suggested by Hertz, a partial immunity established. The writer has long believed that such an immunity is sometimes established in the very obstinate constipation which accompanies absolute fasting, because of the cleansing of the tongue and reappearance of appetite which often occurs at the end of the second or third week of the fast, a phenomenon very like that which appears in typhoid fever and other continued fevers. It must not be supposed, however, that even the establishment of so-called immunity insures the body against all injury. The labor of eliminating an enormous amount of virulent toxins, which falls upon the kidneys, damages the renal tissues and produces premature failure of these essential organs. Any process which develops toxins within the body is a menace to the life of the tissues and should be suppressed as far as possible, and as quickly as possible.

The fact that symptoms of poisoning resulting from constipation do not apear at once is no evidence that injury is not done. Dr. Wm. Hunter in the course of the London discussion remarked that the fact that chronic constipation "might exist in certain individuals as an almost permanent condition without apparently causing ill-health is due solely to the power and protective action of the liver. It is not any evidence of the comparative harmlessness of constipation per se, but only an evidence that some individuals possess the cecum and the colon of an ox, with the liver of a pig, capable of doing any amount of distoxication."

In the face of such an array of evidence backed up by authority of nearly sixty eminent English physicians - and many hundreds of other English, German, and French physicians whose names might be added - it is no longer possible to ignore the importance of alimentary toxemia or autointoxication as a factor in the production of disease. To no other single cause is it possible to attribute one-tenth as many various and widely diverse disorders. It may be said that almost every chronic disease known is directly or indirectly due to the influence of bacterial poisons absorbed from the intestine. The colon may be justly looked upon as a veritable Pandora's box, out of which come more human misery and suffering mental and moral as well as physical than from any other known source.

The successful treatment of alimentary toxemia often taxes to the utmost the resources of the best equipped physician. Sometimes it is necessary to call in the services of the surgeon.

It may be fairly said, however, that at least nine-tenths of the possible benefits to be derived from treatment is to be secured by combating intestinal stagnation. By such regulation of diet and habits as to secure a thorough evacuation of the bowels at least three times a day, or after each meal, and by excluding from the diet flesh meats and other putresicible substances, more can be accomplished toward eliminating from the intestine pernicious parasitic organisms and the multitudinous poisons which they produce than all other means.

The sources of the poison-forming bacteria which grow in the human intestine are numerous. It is probable, however, that butcher's meat, fish, oysters and other shellfish are the chief sources, for Tissier found that when he obtained flesh from the slaughterhouse in as fresh a condition as possible, it contained all the bacteria necessary to produce active putrefaction, which was made evident to the sense of smell within twenty-four hours, and became more and more pronounced from day to day.

Bacteriologists have shown that the mouth always contains putrefactive bacteria. The normal stomach is sterile during digestion, because the gastric juice is a powerful germicide and destroys them; but in stomachs which do not produce a sufficient amount of gastric juice, and in normal stomachs when empty of food, great numbers of these dangerous microbes may be found.

Below the stomach the number of bacteria increase. At the lower end of the small intestine, and in the caecum, the number of living bacteria is the greatest.

The reason for this is the presence of food residues and body wastes of character suitable to encourage the growth of putrefactive bacteria, while starch and sugar which are needed for the growth of acid-forming organisms are absent, having been digested and absorbed in the small intestine.

Changing The Intestinal Flora

Many people seek by change of climate, often at great expense and inconvenience, to secure relief from ailments which only require a change of the character of the bacteria growing in their intestines and are to no appreciable extent affected by the climatic influences. If sometimes relief is found by such persons in a change of climate it is because an incidental change of their intestinal bacterial growth happens to occur at the same time. "Bilious" climates do not exist. "Biliousness," an unscientific but significant and useful word, signifies conditions that can be remedied only by in some way getting rid of putrefactive bacteria and putrefaction processes that are active in the intestines.

Dr. Tissier, of the Pasteur Institute, was the first to point the way to methods of changing the flora of the intestine. His plan was to displace "wild," noxious, poison-forming bacteria which have taken possession of most adult intestines through wrong habits of life, especially in diet, by harmless, acid-forming species, such as Nature plants in the intestines of the young infant within a few days after birth.

There are various ways in which the intestinal flora may be changed. Three things are essential:

1. The diet must be such as to encourage the growth of friendly germs, the acid-formers, and discourage the growth of unfriendly and undesirable ones, the poison-formers. This requires a fleshless diet and in some cases a diet free from animal protein, that is, a diet which excludes eggs and milk as well as meats of all kinds.

2. The bowels must be made to move three times a day or more frequently so as to hasten the displacement of the undesirable bacteria and to dislodge them from their hiding places.

3. The introduction of friendly, acid-forming bacteria in such large numbers as to enable them to take possession of the intestine and establish themselves in the colon where their services in combating putrefactive processes is needed.

The change of diet may be effected by adopting the "milk regimen" for a limited period. The "fruit regimen" - fresh fruit and such green vegetables as lettuce, celery, and cucumbers answers the same purpose. The "whey cure," "kumyss cure," and "milk cure" are other dietetic methods of changing the flora.

Fasting will not change the flora for reasons given elsewhere, (see pages 103-106).

In general, the antitoxic diet elsewhere described (see pages 221-240) is the most practical solution of the diet problem in relation to bacterial change in the intestine. In cases in which it is desirable to secure a gain in flesh in connection with a change of the intestinal flora, a milk diet may be successfully employed.