While we recognize the importance of educating our children in the scientific treatment of plants and animals - the science and philosophy of food, and its sane combinations, on which the sole possibility of physical health, strength and endurance is based - has as yet no true representation in the realm of public instruction. And furthermore, when broken down through dietic errors, the individual appeals to his physician for help and council, he is generally advised to "eat anything that agrees with him" and "take the medicine faithfully."
Such advice, however, is one of the most pathetic errors committed by medical practice against humanity. To advise a person to be gauged by his own taste, when his very position as diseased, indicates the abnormal and unreliable condition of his taste as well as appetite - is inconsiderate to a point of inhumanity. A stomach, perpetually outraged by a long career of dietetic errors, drastic medication, digestive tonics, purgatives, eliminants, etc., is no more reliable as a guide for the quantity and quality of diet, than the man with burst ear-drums, is to be trusted as a musical critic. There is nothing graver in the mistakes of medical practice than to turn a patient over to the whims and caprices of an over stimulated and unbalanced appetite. Furthermore, a man's stomach may often be the strongest part of his constitution, enduring outrages, with apparent impunity to the owner, until function upon function of his physiological make-up, is breaking down under the colossal strain of accumulative systemic poisoning. Its mucous linings may be torn by ulcers and pustules, bleeding from abrasions, and reeking with infections - and yet endure, with no particular demonstration to the owner, almost incredible abuses in eating drinking and smoking. Drunkards with ulcerated stomachs may continue to indulge in immoderate quantities of strong liquors, with only slight gastric inconveniences.
The explanation of this strange phenomenon is found in the fact that nature in the course of her pathological career, adopts a system of chloroforming or rather asphyxiating her morbid processes, so as to render her nerve-paths and nerve-endings insensible to the extent the advancing disease causes the tissues to be useless in the service of life.
There is a supreme economy in the organization and distribution of vitality in the body, and the moment pain ceases to be useful as a means of warning to the disease-threatened organism, it ceases to irritate and to shatter the conduits of the nervous apparatus.
For pain is an effort of local nerve centers to call the attention of self-conciousness to a threatening danger. The center of conciousness which controls the sympathetic, vegetative, involuntary, "subconscious" nervous system, is the Modulla Oblongata; while the center of personal consciousness which directs the movements of the cerebro-spinal, voluntary, self-conscious nervous system is located in the frontal regions of the cortex. The two systems are distinct and independent, though their respective impulses may become reflected from one zone or circuit of consciousness into the other. In other words, Medulla deals with man as a vegetative animal - with his animation and nutrition; while the cerebro-spinal system deals with him as a self-conscious thinker - generating, coordinating and directing his impulses of cognition and intellection.
From this it is readily seen that there may be sensations within the sphere of the sympathetic, subconscious system that never rise into the sense or feeling of self-consciousness; as it is only when the impulse from the former becomes sufficiently intense to cause the dis turbance back of it to pass beyond the adjusting power of the Medulla Oblongata, that the latter feels the need of cerebro-spinal or self-conscious aid, and thus in consequence, flashes the impulse across the circuit of the brain consciousness, with its result in pain. This means that morbid processes due to dietetic and hygienic transgressions may be constantly forming in the system, but remain below the level of self-consciousness as long as Medulla Oblongata, through the agency of the Opsonic reserve forces, has lost the power to dissolve them, or to keep them from rising above the level of self- conscious sensibility. There may, however, be felt a dull sense of discomfort - a muffled pain - due to stray impulses, transmitted sporadically by way of leakage through abraded nerve insulations.
From this it may be easily understood that symptoms are not reliable as diagnostic factors, and that a disease may be developing in our organism and yet be perfectly unknown to us. In fact, an individual may revel in physiological vigor and defy with seeming impunity every dietetic and hygienic principle, and yet fail to realize that his vital system, center after center, function after function, is gradually yielding to the conquests of a slowly and insidiously advancing general breakdown.