This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
Snow does not melt in high altitudes, even when the sun's rays are quite warm, until the air becomes warm. Snow, or white clothing reflects the sun's rays; hence dark clothing should be worn in winter, and white or light-colored clothing in summer.
As an experiment: Place a dry leaf on a bank of snow where the sun is shining; in a little while it will be seen that the snow under the leaf is melting.
Absence of wind and humidity causes high altitudes to be comfortable places to live.
Mountain air is so dry that putrefaction does not occur to the same extent as at sea level. In high altitudes meat will dry and cure without salt. Desiccation is effected before decomposition can set in. At St. Bernard, in the Swiss Alps, the corpses of men and animals never decay. The dead are placed in morgues, where they are preserved indefinitely--a form of immortality.
The air is so rarefied in high altitudes that patients are made quite nervous because of the absence of noise. Sound does not carry, because the air is not dense enough to transmit it.
It is said that the absence of noise causes a feeling of sadness.
The effect of altitudes ranging from six to twelve thousand feet, on one seeking health, will be at first, while becoming acclimated, that of a feeling of warmth on the skin. The lips will redden, and the eyes will flush. For a while one will be troubled with insomnia; a slight palpitation; or, if the heart is weak, the palpitation may be severe. There will be a feeling of dyspnea (shortness of breath); dizziness; and sometimes headache. The urine is dark, and constipation is the rule; and, from the first, the appetite is increased.
In a short time the skin becomes a tan color. The lips, nose, and hair become so dry that salves and vaseline are used to secure relief from the dryness. Strength increases, and long walks, and even mountain-climbing, do not fatigue until overeating brings on the tired feeling peculiar to food poisoning.
There is mountain sickness, which is said to be unavoidable in altitudes of from twelve to fifteen thousand feet, but not equally in all countries--probably the result of overeating and fatigue. The exhilaration caused by the mountain atmosphere induces the traveler or sightseer to exercise to excess; this uses up so much nerve energy that imperfect digestion results, following which comes intestinal toxin infection; and that is what mountain fever is.
Mountain-climbers are not equally subject to mountain sickness. This, of course, is true of every section of the country. It is said that the lack of oxygen, the increased cold, and the fatigue have much to do with bringing on mountain sickness. Obviously harm must follow an increased appetite and a decrease in oxygen supply. A decrease of oxygen favors decomposition; this is one reason for auto-intoxication.
The symptoms of mountain sickness are a feeling of growing malaise; pains in the legs, especially the knees; the mouth fills with saliva; sickness of the stomach, followed by vomiting of food; and, in severe attacks, bilious and even blood vomiting. In the advanced stages of the disease, pain in the bowels and diarrhea set in.
According to Paul Bert: "The quantity of oxygen in the blood diminishes as the atmospheric pressure diminishes. If the rarefaction corresponds to pressure existing at 6,000 feet of altitude, the oxygen diminishes thirteen per cent; at 9,000 feet, twenty-one per cent; at 25,000 feet, fifty per cent." He thinks oxygen starvation causes death in these high altitudes, and experiments that he has carried out have proved that he is right.
By "becoming acclimated" is meant that the blood acquires an increased capacity for absorbing oxygen; which means an increase in the red corpuscles and an increase in the iron contents. This being true, patients suffering from anemia, and especially chlorosis, will find benefit in living in high altitudes. They will also suffer much in traveling in high altitudes.
This is according to the best medical authority. I will say in this connection, however, that such diseases are brought on from imprudent eating. My experience is that anemic and chlorotic patients eat foods that are devoid of oxygen, until they lose their power for carrying oxygen. Why should not this be true? Nature removes an organ no longer used. If oxygen is not taken into the system in large enough quantities to supply work for the red corpuscles, there will be a gradual diminution of these corpuscles to correspond with requirements. High altitudes force breathing; hence the demand for more blood corpuscles, and the supply.
To those who are anemic or chlorotic I will say: If resort to a high and dry altitude cannot be taken, do not be discouraged; stay at home and get well. Stop sugar-, candy-, and cake-eating; use sugar in foods very sparingly. Eat uncooked fruit, also salads made from fresh, crisp vegetables, or a slaw, every day; and teach yourself deep breathing.
An increased capacity for absorbing oxygen may be developed in low as well as high altitudes by getting rid of toxins in the blood. This can be done by correcting the eating: by lessening the amount of the so-called staples--meat, bread or cereals, pudding, pie, cake, etc.--and eating more fresh fruit and vegetable salads; and exercise should not be forgotten.
Pulmonary tuberculosis is a disease supposed to be best treated when sent to high and dry altitudes. This supposed benefit is not without its drawbacks. All lung cases with a high pulse-rate should seek as dry a climate as possible, but avoid altitudes more than a mile above sea level.
Almost irreparable harm is done to blood-making and nutrition before the tubercular bacillus is discoverable in the lungs. Prevention of this disease must start in childhood, with those of the tubercular diathesis. After adenitis (lymphatic infection) has been developed in a tuberculous diathesis, it will require unusually good judgment on the part of the patient, and unusual medical skill on the part of the medical adviser, to bring the patient back to the normal. To stay normal with a diathesis and a record of one breakdown will require great good judgment--certainly more than a residence in a high altitude, etc.
I have learned from observation that those who are well advanced with pulmonary tuberculosis, and who have a high pulse-rate, die off very rapidly when brought to Denver.
If we are to believe in the eternal logic of the universe, we must believe that sound judgment is an accompaniment of a sound body. This being true, all tubercular subjects should be directed by the wisest minds; for their own is as prone to go wrong as the sparks are to fly upward.
Curing this disease means correcting the mind and body-it means right thinking and acting.
If it is a fact that more lung capacity is needed in high altitudes, is it wise to force diseased lungs to expand? Oxygen starvation is one of the symptoms of tuberculosis, due to imperfect lung action. The lungs of these subjects are not used to their full capacity, and, as the disease advances, breathing grows more shallow, because the lungs grow more sensitive to the air. Cold air irritates and causes coughing, and, to avoid coughing, the patient learns to breathe in a more shallow manner all the time; and, of course, the less oxygen taken in, the less food is digested, and the farther away from health the victim drifts.
Sleeping-porches and other devices for furnishing fresh air and a greater oxygen consumption have been a dominating fad since a few years ago, when it was the custom to have patients sit out-of-doors in the coldest weather--wrapped, of course, enough to keep warm.