All condiments act as irritants and, as a consequence, induce inflammation in the digestive tract. Their continued use results in hardening (toughening) of the mucous lining of the alvine canal. This hardening renders the delicate membranes less sensitive to their irritating qualities, but cripples the efficiency of the membranes. Cayenne or red pepper is about the most fiery of all condiments. It burns and "stimulates" these organs and is followed inevitably by a reaction with a corresponding lowering of the vital tone of these same organs.
The effect of condiments is the opposite of what it is popularly supposed to be. They depress and hinder rather than aid digestion. The taste of condiments is repulsive to infants and those unaccustomed to their use.
The irritation caused by mustard, pepper, pepper-sauce, horseradish, cayenne, capsicum, and other hot and exciting substances, due to highly poisonous essential oils, which, in the pure state, quickly produce blisters upon the skin, and which in condiments when taken internally, exert their irritating effect upon the more delicate membranes of the digestive tract, excite the stomach to increased action in certain respects, but lessen the secretion of gastric juice and, later, decrease activity of the stomach. Mint and thyme lessen the activity of the stomach and diminish secretion. These substances "act" upon the digestive organs as a lash but the spasms they induce do not accelerate digestion. Their irritation, though temporarily increasing the tone of the mouth and throat "burn" like a coal of fire. If pepper is taken by the non-user its burning may be felt in the stomach. It may even result in diarrhea. When it passes out with the stools on the same or the following day the non-user experiences the same irritation and burning in the rectum that he experienced in the mouth and throat when he ate the pepper. If it is habitually employed nature is compelled to thicken and harden the membranes of mouth, throat, stomach, intestine and colon to protect these against its influence.
Black pepper and white pepper have the same effects differing only in the degree of their irritating qualities. Spices, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, mustard, capsicum and all irritating sauces and condiments exert the same kind of influence and impair rather than improve digestion. Repeated irritation from these things produces irreparable injury to the stomach, liver, intestine, kidneys, blood vessels, heart and other vital organs. Catarrh, chronic inflammation, hardening, glandular destruction, permanently impaired digestion, gastric ulcer, cancer of the alimentary canal and colitis are among the results of using condiments.
Boix, of Paris, showed that pepper will produce hardening of the arteries and "gin liver." He showed pepper to be six times as active as gin in producing cirrhosis of the liver. He also showed that the acetic acid in vinegar is twice as active as gin in producing cirrhosis of the liver.
Condiments, sauces (Worcestershire sauce among them), dressings, vinegar mustard, alcohol, etc., possess absolutely no constructive properties, but all of them are, to a marked degree, destructive. The only safe and proper stimuli for the digestive processes are the odors and flavors of foods, hunger and the digestive products themselves.
By repeated use we learn to tolerate the presence in the body of poisons and irritants. Toleration is gained at the expense of changes in the organism that are away from the ideal. That the body can tolerate the presence of any poisonous or irritating substance and does not react against it promptly and vigorously, is certain evidence of its far-advanced degeneration and depravity.
Contrary to popular opinion, wines, as well as strong drinks, are decidedly detrimental to digestion. Prof. Chittenden, in his classical resarches for the Committee of Fifty, clearly demonstrated this fact. He showed that alcohol increases the flow of gastric juice, but found that an equal amount of water would increase gastric secretion equally as much. Upon further investigation it was found that the secretion induced by water possessed much more powerful digestive properties than that induced by alcohol.
The secretion of hydrochloric acid is only temporarily increased by alcohol after which its secretion is diminished, while the alcohol hinders the formation of pepsin. It also causes the mucous glands to pour such quantities of alkaline fluid (mucous) into the stomach that it upsets gastric digestion.
Vinegar, with its alcohol and ascetic acid, certainly should be avoided by all who desire good digestion and good health. Its acid interferes with the digestion of both proteins and starches.