Nutrition And Constipation
( Originally Published 1954 )
Constipation is a malady that is generally taken more lightly than most other functional or organic forms of ill health. But it merits more serious concern and immediate attention if one wishes to attain more permanent relief than is afforded by the use of laxative medicines.
Constipation requires a type of treatment that will tend to remove its cause or causes. In every case of constipation there is sub-normal response of the rectal nerves in bringing about the normal response of producing an evacuation from the lower bowel when it fills up with fecal matter.
In a normal state of the lower colon and rectum, the local nervous and muscular mechanisms respond by ejecting the fecal mass as soon as it descends. When for some reason there is a failure of the neuromuscular mechanism, the result may be some type of constipation. It may be spastic; it may be atonic; or it may be a combination of the two.
The results may lead to functional and organic disease of the colon and rectum, as well as of adjacent structures such as the genital and urinary organs and the liver, and, reflexively, of the muscles and nerves of the lower back.
Constipation can start a vicious cycle of disease that may in time bring disaster to the body as a whole. As a matter of fact, constipation is found together with many other debilitating chronic organic and functional diseases.
Which comes first—the organic or functional disease or constipation? In many cases constipation is a sign of general debility, of general health impairment. It is the belief of this writer that constipation is not a disease by itself but rather a sign of generalized functional or organic ill health. It is a fact that constipation is overcome only when it is treated as part of a general symptom-complex.
Constipation occurs in individuals of all ages. Infants are at times constipated soon after they are born. The normal infant moves its bowels soon after birth. If its care and feeding are correct, it continues to maintain normal gastro-intestinal functioning.
Older children, when they become constipated, are as a rule sub-normal in health and strength. The normal child, like the normal animal, is not constipated. The same is true of the normal adult. When human adults become constipated, there is a breakdown in the health of the general organism]
Laxatives and cathartics are therefore futile as a road to a permanent cure. Constipation must be treated by improving the general well-being of the body.
It is a fact that there is no dietary cure for constipation as such; there is no specific diet for the cure of disease in general. Constipation is a disease affection, because it is a sign of some form of chronic disease. Chronic disease as a whole has been baffling the authorities of the medical world. So has constipation!
In fact, there are many doctors who themselves are constipated. They take ordinary remedies for it because it is easier to reach for a pill than for more effective curative measures. Conventional doctors are in habit-ruts that break down their health. Doctors eat wrong foods and drug their own disease symptoms the same as they do their patients. They are too busy to find better ways of personal hygiene. The general public has the same choice: namely, either to take pills or try to find the underlying basic causes of constipation and remove them.
The human body, more so than the bodies of other living beings, is a waste-forming organism to a degree that menaces its own health more than waste-forming does in other living beings. For this reason there is so much more disease among humans than there is, for ex-ample, among cows or horses. Animal disease is prevalent. Animals do not know about hygiene, about anatomy, about physiology, about proper care of the body or prevention of disease. But proper knowledge is available to the human race.
The failure of the human race to enjoy the best possible health is due to ignorance or indifference about the application of scientific principles of personal hygiene. Unfortunately, much of the available knowledge is not being applied by those who have power to apply it. Knowledge remains in a dormant state between the covers of books, because those in power refuse to make use of progressive principles and methods as a living applied art and science for the personal care of the body.
As stated above, diet as medicine cannot cure every disease. What then can cure disease within the body? Many great thinkers in every age have grasped the truth that the sick body has to undergo a rest cure and body-cleansing in order to free it of accumulated impurities. Impurities may be metabolic or they may be due to poisons from living and dead bacteria that find their way into the fluids and tissues of the body. Whatever the causes, the end-result means that the cells, fluids, and tissues must be cleansed.
This cleansing process is as natural as breathing in pule air. Of course, nature made provision for breathing as all essential involuntary process of the body. However, for deeper cleansing of the organism, scientific efforts must be made.
Many people in the healing profession ridicule the idea of body-cleansing. These people are behind the times. The Natural School physicians are the advance-guard of future medicine.
The first step toward an elective cure for constipation must be body-cleansing by resting the organism from work and worry-physical rest and physiological rest. Lying in bed and keeping quiet gives every cell of the body a chance to unload its uneliminated retained excretions.
In lowered health, the cells fail to eject their own normal catabolic wastes efficiently. This is the starting point of functional and organic disease of every description-namely, retention of excessive wastes to a greater extent than is tolerable in a susceptible tissue or organ or in a multiplicity of body structures.
When disease exists in a multiplicity of structures, it may manifest itself in abnormal neoplastic growths or tumors. We often see constipation as a symptom or as an accompaniment of tumors, benign or malignant. We often see constipation accompanying arthritis, arteriosclerosis, general chronic fatigue, and other forms of chronic ill health.
The speediest and most effective way of dealing with constipation is to treat the sufferer with a rest cure, in conjunction with a fast. In other words physical and physiological rest must be the basic starting point on the road to overcoming constipation! When constipation is associated with other symptoms of ill health, the fast and rest cure will bring about an early cure of constipation. In many instances, constipation is the first symptom that is overcome. There is no other and no quicker way of overcoming constipation than by means of a properly managed rest cure and fast. During the rest cure and fast, while the patient is in bed, passive exercises are of great help.
Osteopathic treatment is exceedingly helpful in normalizing structural and functional ill health. The patient always finds osteopathic treatment most comforting. It eases up tension of the joints, muscles and ligaments that have been impaired. It is the belief of this writer that there is no substitute for general osteopathic treatment in every case of chronic ill health. The sense of well-being and comfort is not only of immediate subjective improvement, it is of lasting curative benefit.
Dr. J. H. Tilden, the great internist of our own time who died in 1940, once remarked: "If you want to cure constipation, cut down your food intake by one-quarter until the bowels move freely." The great doctor was right! By that general statement he meant that the heavier foods should be omitted.
The heavy foods—those that tend to tax the energy of the body—are concentrated proteins, such as eggs, nuts, dry beans, cheese, starches, and animal meats. The easily digested foods are: diluted milk, fresh raw and stewed fruits, and raw vegetable juice. A choice of correct foods is obviously necessary. In curing constipation, the related processes of building up body energy and removing tissue and colon wastes contribute toward a restoration of the normal nerve stimulus to "moving the bowels."
Modern men and women who are successful in their businesses and professions make sure that their bowels move; therefore they take their little and big pills for the bowels, for headache, and for sleep—until they get stones of the gall bladder or the kidneys or until they get hemorrhoids or cancer. This is the price that the rich, the poor, the educated, the cultured men and women of our time must pay for their lack of knowledge about hygienic care and proper food.