This section is from the "Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure" book, by Henry Lindlahr.
The origin, progressive development and cure of acid diseases are very much the same whether they manifest as rheumatism, arteriosclerosis, stones (calculi), gravel, diabetes, Bright's disease, affections of the heart or apoplexy.
The human body is made up of acid and alkaline constituents. In order to have normal conditions and functions of tissues and organs, both must be present in the right proportions. If either the acid or the alkaline elements are present in excessive or insufficient quanitities, abnormal conditions and functions, that is, disease will be the result.
All acids, with the exception of carbonic acid, exert a tensing influence upon the tissues of the body, while alkalies have a relaxing effect. The normal functions of the body depend upon the equilibrium between these opposing forces.
Acidity and alkalinity undoubtedly play an important part in the generation of electricity and magnetism in the human organism. Every electric cell and battery contains acid and alkaline elements; and the human body is a dynamo made up of innumerable minute electric cells and batteries in the forms of living, protoplasmic cells and organs.
It has been claimed that what we call vital force is electricity and magnetism, and that these forces are manufactured in the human body. This, however, is but a partial statement of the truth. It is true that vital force manifests in the body as electricity and magnetism, but life or vital force itself is not generated in the system.
Life is a primary force; it is the source of all activity animating the universe. From this primary force other, secondary forces are derived, such as electricity, magnetism, mind force, nerve and muscle force, etc.
These secondary, derived forces cannot be changed back into vital force in the human organism. Nothing can give life but LIFE itself.
When the physical body is dead, as we call it, the life which left it is active in the spiritual body. It is independent of the physical organism just as electricity is independent of the incandescent bulb in which it manifests as light.
After this digression we shall return to our study of the cause and development of acid diseases. Nearly every disease originating in the human body is due to or accompanied by the excessive formation of different kinds of acids in the system, the most important of which are uric, carbonic, sulphuric, phosphoric and oxalic acids. These, together with xanthines, poisonous alkaloids and ptomaines, are formed during the processes of protein and starch digestion and in the breaking down and decay of cells and tissues.
Of these different waste products, uric acid causes probably the most trouble in the organism. The majority of diseases arising within the human body are due to its erratic behavior. Together with oxalic acid, it is responsible for arteriosclerosis, arthritic rheumatism and the formation of calculi.
Dr. Haig of London has done excellent work in the investigation of uric-acid poisoning, but he becomes one-sided when he makes uric acid the scapegoat for all disease conditions originating in the organism. In his philosophy of disease he fails to take into consideration the effects of other acids and systemic poisons. For instance, he does not mention the fact that carbonic acid is produced in the system somewhat similarly to the formation of coal gas in the furnace; and that its accumulation prevents the entrance of oxygen into the cells and tissues, thus causing asphyxiation or oxygen starvation, which manifests in the symptoms of anemia and tuberculosis.
Neither does Dr. Haig explain the effects of other destructive by-products formed during the digestion of starches and proteins. Sulphurous acid and sulphuric acid (vitriol), as well as phosphorus and phosphoric acids actually burn up the tissues of the body. They destroy the cellulose membranes which form the protecting skins or envelopes of the cells, dissolve the protoplasm and allow the latter to escape into the circulation. This accounts for the symptoms of Bright's disease, the presence of albumen (cell protoplasm) in blood and urine, the clogging of the circulation, the consequent stagnation and the accumulation of blood serum (dropsy) and the final breaking down of the tissues (necrosis) resulting in open sores and ulcers.
Excess of phosphorus and the acids derived from it overstimulates the brain and the nervous system, causing nervousness, irritability, hysteria and the different forms of mania.
An example of this is the distemper of a horse when given too much oats and not enough grass or hay. The excess of phosphorus and phosphoric acids formed from the protein materials of the grain, if not neutralized by the alkaline minerals contained in grasses, hay or straw, will overstimulate and irritate the nervous system of the animal and cause it to become nervous, irritable and vicious. These symptoms disappear when the rations of oats are decreased and when more fresh grass or hay is fed in place of the grain.
Similar effects to those produced upon the horse by an excess of grains are caused in the human organism, especially in the sensitive nervous system of the child, by a surplus of protein foods, of meat, eggs, grains and pulses.
Still, when patients suffering from overstimulation of the brain and nervous system consult their doctor, his advice in almost every instance is: "Your nerves are weak and overwrought. You need plenty of good, nourishing food (broths, meat and eggs), and 'a good tonic.' "
The remedies prescribed by the doctor are the very things which caused the trouble in the first place.
As stated before, uric acid is undoubtedly one of the most common causes of disease and therefore deserves especial attention. Through the study of its peculiar behavior under different circumstances and influences, the cause, nature and development of all acid diseases will become clearer.
Like urea, uric acid is one of the end products of protein digestion. It is formed in much smaller quantities than urea, in proportion of about one to fifty, but the latter is more easily eliminated from the system through kidneys and skin.
The principal ingredient in the formation of uric acid is nitrogen, one of the six elements which enter into all proteid or albuminous food materials, also called nitrogenous foods. Uric acid, as one of the by-products of digestion, is therefore always present in the blood and, in moderate quantities, serves useful purposes in the economy of the human and animal organism like the other waste materials. It becomes a source of irritation and cause of disease only when it is present in the circulation or in the tissues in excessive amounts.