This section is from the book "The Natural Food Of Man", by Emmet Densmore. Also available from Amazon: How Nature Cures Comprising a New System of Hygiene.
IN a former issue of the Vegetarian, I gave an account of some experience and experiments that occurred in a medical practice for the reduction of obesity, and asked the following question : "Why is it that signal benefits are pretty surt to follow in great multitudes of patients where no other treatment is given than confining their food to animal flesh, and such fruits and vegetables as have no starch, excluding potatoes and all cereals?" It will be observed that the reduction of obesity has nothing to do with the question; nor did, nor does, it follow that other physicians and experimenters may not have had similar results in exclusive feeding of meat to patients who are affected with other diseases than obesity. If it be true that an exclusive diet of the flesh of animals is frequently attended by a marked and sometimes permanent gain in the condition of patients long and seriously out of health, it is a subject demanding the most earnest and painstaking investigation on the part of Vegetarians, and food reformers under whatever name.
Since writing the essay entitled, "The Natural Food of Man," recently published in the Vegetarian, I have for the first time read a book entitled, "The Relation of Alimentation to Disease," by J. H. Salisbury, A.M., M.D., LL.D. Dr. Salisbury is a member of the Philosophical Society of Great Britain, of the American Antiquarian Society, of the Natural History Society of Montreal, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, etc., etc., and is a scientist and microscopist of some note. I am thus particular to note the standing of this author, in the hope that food reformers will give some earnest attention to the important and remarkable claims put forth by him I quote from the preface of his book:
"In 1849 I began the study of germ diseases. Those of plants first occupied my attention; afterwards, those in animal, and in man. I had previously been engaged in the exact sciences of chemistry, botany, geology, zoology, and mineralogy. In 1846 I was appointed assistant in the Chemical Laboratory of the New York State Geological
Survey, and in 1849 I became Principal of the Laboratory. I had been a graduate of Albany Medical College, and in 1850 I entered upon the practice of medicine.
"I was immediately and forcibly struck by the almost entire want of medical knowledge in regard to the true causes of disease, and by the consequent uncertainty that must and did exist as to the means of combating and curing pathological states. This uncertainty hampered me at each step of my practice. The art of Therapeutics was a chaos whose sole order consisted in dealing with established pathological conditions as though they were the disease itself, rather than what they actually were, viz., consequences based upon antecedent and obscure states arising from an unknown cause. In consumption, for example, this want of thorough and basic knowledge conduced to our treating certain abnormal states as inflammatory, when they were in reality paralytic ones, as I shall demonstrate in subsequent pages.
"The grim list of so-called 'incurable diseases,' and their steadily increasing death-rates, riveted my attention and fascinated my thought. I attained an entire conviction that they must be curable; that, since abnormal conditions could be established in previously healthy organisms, their causation must be discoverable; and that the mind of man must be endowed with sufficient power to trace the interlinked sequences of disease back to their primary source. I determined to accomplish this discovery, if possible, before my exit from this world. I started without theories, without prejudices. I had no beaten rut to confine me. I resolved to collect and sift actual facts; to the ultimate testimony of these alone I looked for a solution of the riddle. . . .
"In 1854 the idea came to me, in one of my solitary hours, to try the effects of living exclusively upon one food at a time. This experiment I began upon myself alone at first. Fortunately, in our works on Physiology, beans are placed at the head of the list of foods as regards their nutrient qualities. On this account I opened this line of experiments with baked beans. I had not lived upon this food over three days, before light began to break. I became very flatulent and constipated, head dizzy, ears ringing, limbs prickly, and was wholly unfitted for mental work. The microscopic examination of passages showed that the bean food did not digest; that it fermented and filled the digestive organs with yeast, carbon-dioxide, alcohol, and acetic acid; that the sacs of legumen containing starch granules were insoluble in the digestive fluids, and consequently these fluids could not reach the starch until it had fermented and liberated sufficient gas to explode the sacs. By this time the starch was too far changed into gas, alcohol, and vinegar, to afford much nourishment to the body.
"From this date until September, 1856, I subjected myself to testing upon my own person the effects of exclusive feeding upon several other foods in turn, as often as I could find time to do so. My eyes opened to the vast reach of the field before me. I had found a door standing ajar, through which I began to get glimmerings of light in the right direction.
"In September, 1856, I hired six well and hearty men to come and live with me, as I myself would live, on baked beans. This experiment and its results are fully described further on. In 1857 I engaged four other well men to live with me upon oatmeal porridge solely, for thirty days. That experiment is also given in detail hereafter. In 1858 I took nearly 2,000 hogs, in separate lots and in different pens, so that I might test various modes of feeding them, and carrying my experiments on to the death-point, as could not be done with men. In order to be sure of my data, I tended, fed, and dissected them myself; it was not work that could be done with kid-gloves on ! These experiments also are fully given in subsequent pages. Later on I employed men from time to time to live with me on other kinds of food, one kind at a time; some of the results of such living are duly given under their proper headings. By 1858 I began to understand from what cause all our diseases eminate, excepting those arising from injuries, poisons, and infections, and to hope that the day was not far distant when I should be able to cure them. . . .