Definition

A burning. Any local influence that disturbs cell nutrition may be said to lower its standard of life or health, and this state we call disease. The phenomena are hyperemia, pain, heat, swelling, redness, and disordered function--impaired nutrition.

When the influence is traumatic (a wound or injury), there are two reactions which follow--namely, local and general. The local reaction causes a change in the nutrition of the cells injured and in their neighbor-cells. The general or systemic reaction causes a general nutritive change in keeping with the severity of the local injury. An injury may be so small that the general reaction is nil; yet, if the reparative process is interfered with because of inhibition of elimination and drainage, the systemic reaction may be so great as to cause death.

The simplest wound is a cut. When left to nature, the wound gapes. The wise mind will interpret nature's speechless signs about as follows: Nature is always conservative, and if there were danger in a wound standing open, it would be natural for the mechanism to close it, the same as the blood vessels close to stop bleeding. The blood vessels contract and retract, causing the flow of blood to be very light; then, on account of the slight flow of blood, a clot forms in the mouth of the cut vessel, which seals it most effectually. Where the blood vessels are torn or twisted apart they do not bleed. In certain diseased states the blood will not clot, and bleeding continues. It may be objected that wounds to blood vessels do sometimes bleed the injured to death. Yes, that is true. Every conservative provision of nature can be, and sometimes is, overcome, but that does not alter the fact that nature places a special guard over each one of the body's vital functions, the normal action of each and every one being necessary to total full health of the body, and that each guard must be vanquished before the function over which it presides can be deranged or checked.

If microbes were dangerous to open wounds, they would not be in the atmosphere, in us and about us. If it were not for the reciprocal relationship existing between the microbes (organized ferment) and the enzymes (unorganized ferment), cell development could not take place, and tissue growth and reparation of injuries could not be brought about.

If the microbes could not get into a wound, either at the front or at the rear--either from the outside of the body through the medium of the atmosphere into the wound, or through the lungs into the blood, and, by virtue of the circulation of the blood, into the wound--healing could not take place. Organized ferments are as necessary to life as unorganized ferments. We know that cooked food, boiled water, and canned fruits are not so wholesome as foods not cooked. The false notion is sometimes advanced that uncooked vegetables are disease-producing. This is true only when the uncooked vegetables are diseased.

To kill the vitamin or enzymes in fruit, vegetables, or meat, by cooking, destroys the reciprocal balance between enzymes and microbes, resulting in decomposition. If, however, the cooked products are placed in vacuum, they will remain without change.

The Lister dressing places wounds in a state free from the access of germs; hence there is no danger from interfering with nature's plan of open drainage. But if the dressing is imperfect, allowing the germs to enter, and does not allow free drainage, the balance between germs and enzymes--between organized ferments and unorganized ferments--is lost, and the result is decomposition with infection, which ends repair, and sloughing of the parts takes place. If the sloughing establishes drainage, a reciprocity--a balancing of activities--between microbes and enzymes is once more established, and healing proceeds; but if sloughing does not take place and drainage fails to be established, organized ferments (microbes) gain the mastery over the unorganized ferments (enzymes), decomposition and disorganization of the blood take place, with the generation of sepsis which paralyzes the nerve centers, causing death in a very short time. If feeding is pushed "to keep up the strength and supply waste," the enzymes are used up, reparation of the wound--healing--does not take place, and the reparative material breaks down into pus.

The activity of the circulation in and about an injury takes place as one of the reactive phenomena following the shock of an injury, and causes swelling, pain, redness, and heat. This is a normal inflammation, necessary to reparation. To secure healing material, a surplus of blood must be taken to an injured part; and so much is taken that the environment of an injury is filled to overflowing-for nature is prodigal. This is the cause of the swelling, pain, redness, and heat; and the pressure on the nerves causes pain--the pain of inflammation. A surplus of blood means a surplus of heat; but so long as the chemistry of the elements is physiologically maintained, the temperature--inflammation--will not be above the normal visceral temperature, and the healing will then proceed normally. On the other hand, if the nutrition of the wound is perverted by having the waste retained, microbic fermentation takes place, which changes the chemistry, and decomposition supplants composition or healing. Normal inflammation, due to the fermentation caused by enzymes, is supplanted by abnormal inflammation, due to the fermentation caused by microbes. The first phenomenon is health as it appears when the reparative processes are working without a handicap; while the second is health as it appears when the reparative processes are working under a handicap.