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
The description of the substance said to be vitamin discovered by Dr. Funk, misnamed vitamin, and which substance he declares is indispensable to life (how can life be dependent on a little life; how can electricity be dependent on the electric light or any other manifestation of itself?) does not fit any conceivable description of life. Life is as old as food itself-an element as old as creation. It is the breath of life that quickened man. It is the word made flesh--the subtile presence that quickeneth all things.
"The word 'vitamin' has not found a place in the dictionary yet;" and it is scarcely defined and barely understood by its discoverers.
It is said that Dr. Casimir Funk, a Russian chemist now of New York, invented the name to fit "certain mysterious substances in food," which have been demonstrated by a Scandinavian chemist as substances which apparently are not food, yet necessary to its utilization. Isn't this the description of a digestive ferment--an enzyme? Certainly, food cannot become food until acted upon by a ferment.
It is said that Dr. Funk has isolated those substances which he says are "indispensable to life;" and since his announcement "other scientists have added to the meager sum of knowledge."
Digestive ferments have been taken from the hog (pepsin) and from the chicken (ingluvin--pullus gallinaceus). Would it be so very strange if chemists should analyze out of every organized structure (plant or animal) a ferment, or the genesial elements out of which ferments are made? So important an element as ferment must, like life, be present, either in form or potentiality, everywhere.
In the olden time, and up to the very recent present, the perpetual-motion discoverer was abroad in every land, and was always just about ready to demonstrate its discovery to the world. But, alas, the world waited in vain; for no announcement ever came. And now the perpetual-motion explorers are out of business forever--put out by the electric discoverers.
Electricity is a power that is elusive to the chemist, and beyond our senses; yet it can be sent over a wire half as large as the little finger, silently and unobjectively, in such quantities and with such power as to move a train. This has awed the perpetual-motion crank into silence. When we know that electricity is made up of electrons (units) so small that a pane of glass allows them to pass through its pores as though it were a coarse sieve or not at all present, we can understand how a cyclone of fifty thousand volts can pass through our bodies as an open door, leaving no trace of its coming or its going.
Yet electricity is probably so coarse, compared with the subtilty of life, that there is not much hope of a Russian, or any other chemist, gathering or isolating it. If, however, "these substances," which are "indispensable to life," are what I insist they must be, they are not vitamin, but ferments--enzymes, and are indispensable to life. Yes, indeed; for "this mysterious substance," which they call vitamin, is without doubt ferments, and in the evolution of beingevolution of cells, quickening of fertilized ova--stands next in importance to life.
The human mind is yet so coarse in its thinking that it alludes to the subtile and universal manifestation of life as "mysterious substances," and talks of gathering or isolating these substances. Certainly we are far, far away from its discovery, so long as our imagination and ideals are so coarse.
Dr. C. Houston Goudiss, editor of the "Forecast" magazine, declares: "Not the wisest man living can tell us just what vitamin is. While these substances appear not to be food, they do appear to be essential to the digestion and assimilation of food; for their withdrawal, suppression, or absence, from whatever cause, results in disease and death of the animal or man fed on such food." Dr. Goudiss unwittingly describes exactly the attributes of enzymes. Probably the name "vitamin" confused him. Any "wisest" physician should tell us just what an enzyme is, even if he balks at life.
In a crude way, vitamins--enzymes--have been known for many years. That there is an enzyme constituent in every cell, in every being, animal or vegetable, in animate nature, is as true as reason. Why? Because it is necessary for reproduction. It has been known that scurvy--a disease newly named acidosis--is caused by living on foods deprived of enzymes; and it is as widely known that uncooked vegetables and fruit, taken in abundance, will cure scurvy, or scorbutus, or acidosis, by supplying the ferments--enzymes--necessary to attract life. The secret of the raw-fruit-and-vegetable cure is that scurvy, or scorbutus, or acidosis, means that more food has been taken than can be appropriated by the body, and the body, like a machine, has become choked by waste products and debris to the extent that decomposition exceeds recomposition; and when enzymes fail to maintain asepsis, and toxin gains the ascendency, disease is brought on and death is threatened; for toxin destroys enzymes, and, as the enzymic power weakens, life power weakens, since not enough life can be appropriated out of the living presence to perpetuate the life of the body.