Animal Proteins—sugar Anaphylaxis
( Originally Published 1921 )
THE question of anaphylaxis, a condition of increased susceptibility to toxic or remedial agents, has in it no doubt the germ of much progress in the knowledge of disease, and we have already achieved a fair amount, of success. Part of the success is founded on fact, and part of it is founded on an elaboration of theory based on the facts that are established. In other words, scientific men have laid the foundation for great discoveries. Other men, less scientific, have taken the findings and methods. of really scientific men, and have erected an artificial structure that stands up for the admiration of the world and appears imposing. As long as nobody throws stones at it, or as long as nobody shakes the structure, and as long as people look at it with a certain amount of faith, it seems all right. But my own judgment is that the anaphylactic castle at the present moment would not stand a great deal of shaking.
There is no question that food tests made by trying the effect of food when applied to a scratch on the skin are extremely interesting, and that occasionally some one comes for treatment who has received definite damage and intense irritation from something that he takes in his food. Occasionally this substance is discovered by a skin test, and occasionally the substance is removed from the diet and there is a wonderful recovery. These specific instances are so striking that they lead to great expectations which unfortunately are not fulfilled, because, even in the lifetime of a busy physician, they will not come so often that they can not be counted on the fingers of one hand. So, with regard to the multitude of people, these instances at the present time are not important. I have accumulated perhaps enough remarkable instances to require the fingers of two hands to count them, because my attention has been intensely engaged in this anaphylaxis theory over ŕ long period of time.
I originated a theory of arteriosclerosis which was just as good as anybody else's theory, and seemed to me quite plausible. I made it the subject of a book. So the theory has been widely spread throughout the world and has been accepted as true by a large number of competent observers among the actual practitioners of medicine, that is, men above the average intelligence. Unfortunately, the theory was not founded on satisfactory laboratory observation, and for that reason the laboratory people have not been willing to affirm or deny it. They have said it was interesting !
You may have had asthma for thirty years. In other words you have had something acting against the vaso motor system of your lungs, whereby the normal moisture which should keep the inside of the lungs just moist enough for practical purposes has kept the surfaces a little too moist. This is perhaps an example of the condition which we find in so many in-stances of acute anaphylaxis.
As a matter of fact, the food material which I have found most frequently at fault and to have acted over the longest period of time, the withdrawal of which has given the most brilliant results, has been eggs.
In my work I have always stood between the laboratory and the profession as a sort of interpreter because I started in life to be a laboratory man, and if I had had my choice I would have devoted myself to abstract research.
I grew up with men who devoted their lives to research, and I like it men whose only. pleasure in life was the pursuit of scientific truth; if they discovered a little inkling of a scientific truth, they were as happy as if they had discovered a diamond as big as one's head. They hunted scientific truth as other people hunt treasures. That was their pursuit, their life. They had no use for pseudo-science in any form.
Personally, I have not been able to convince myself that anaphylaxis as shown by skin tests is as important as some seem to think it. The method which I have used in my own work for a good many years has been the system of variance. This is, of course, a recognized scientific method.
In this method you eliminate all possible causes for a thing, until you have eliminated the real cause, and until the result of the cause has disappeared in other words until the person you are experimenting on is better. Then you keep him well for a period of time, with all the possible causes eliminated, and gradually put back one cause after another until the thing returns, in that way discovering the real cause.
Arteriosclerosis, which is the general name for a disturbance of body chemistry resulting in changes in the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys is, I believe, caused by sensitiveness of the system to animal proteins, which are often food proteins and sometimes bacterial proteins. So I eliminate strictly from the diet of people who come to me with arteriosclerosis all eggs, fish, meat, and stock soups. I eliminate as much as possible the bacterial proteins from the intestinal tracts by the use of castor oil, paying particular attention to the hygiene of the intestine, and I find that a large number of them get better. In other words, the progress of the cardiovascular disease apparently ceases, and they are more comfortable in every way. Then I experiment in putting articles of diet back one after another.
The trouble with the purely laboratory man is that what he detects are laboratory diseases diseases according to the laboratory. He has built up a certain artificial standard of what ought to be found in the intestines, according to his point of view, and he makes all these examinations and draws his conclusions as a laboratory man. He discovers laboratory diseases and he tries to cure laboratory diseases. Laboratory diseases and clinical diseases are two different things. According to the laboratory standard, you may have been dead for ten years but here you are! It is foolish to treat laboratory diseases too seriously.