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Discoveries Related to the Circulatory System


Everyone understands the result which follows when the circulation stops permanently. And many people know that a temporary slowing of the circulation may cause a person to faint. But very little attention is given to a chronically slow circulation. It may, however, cause any symptom or difficulty from nervous or mental disorders to gangrene in the feet. The slowing circulation will first affect whatever nerves are the most sensitive or weakest.

After I had seen how great a variety of disorders disappeared after treatment had produced a good pulse, it became obvious that the poor rate of blood flow had been the cause of these disorders. Therefore I wrote in The Control of the Circulation, page 3, "The rate of the flow of the blood determines the state of nutrition and the functioning of every cell in the body. It governs the growth and activity and reaction to injury of every tissue, every gland, and every organ. It controls the functional activity of the nervous mechanisms of the brain and spinal cord every second. The chemical composition of the body and the quality of the blood itself depend on the rate of the blood flow through the organs and tissues which manufacture the constituents of the blood.

"When the rate of the blood flow falls below a certain point, recovery from either a local or a general disorder is impossible. Just as a complete circulatory failure causes the death of the whole organism so a partial or local circulatory failure may be the cause of various local disorders. Therefore, a study of the rate of blood flow should never be omitted in a diagnosis, or neglected in the treatment of disease."

If the blood circulation fails, every symptom or disease becomes fatal. Hence one should never say, "It's only your circulation."

The constriction of blood vessels, even in limited areas of the body, may produce a considerable resistance to the rate of blood flow. Relaxing excessive contractions of the arterial and gastrointestinal systems, or contracting relaxed areas, is the only logical way of reducing the load on the heart, because a treatment can relax any contracted segment of the body, or contract any relaxed segment. If the heart is overloaded, or if the arteries are relaxed, the local trouble gets worse.

The Pulse and Rate of Blood Flow

About 1930 I began using the sphygmograph to make pulse tracings to show graphically the effect of spinal applications on the pulse and therefore on the rate of blood flow.

If the pulse can be compressed by a very slight pressure of the finger, it suggests that the rate of blood flow is weak. If, however, the pulse stands up well under considerable pressure, the rate of blood flow is better. This cannot be tested either by blood pressure or electrocardiogram. Too hard or too prolonged pressure even by the finger on the artery may cause it to contract and change the rate of blood flow. Similarly, the most elaborate sphygmograph which maintains a steady pressure on the artery may make a misleading tracing.

In studying the pulse, the most important consideration for everyone at all times is the character of the pulse. This does not refer to its rate. Obviously the rate of beats should be considered, but the rate of beat does not indicate the rate of flow.

The best description I have seen of the pulse occurs in The Treatise of the Yellow Emperor of China written about 2,700 B.C. We read, "The patient gets well if the pulse is large, long, and a little tense." A large pulse does not indicate the most rapid flow of blood if the pulse is soft and too compressible. A smaller pulse with a little more tension indicates a better rate of flow.

I studied my pulse while lying on my back and I noticed that when I raised my hands above the body level, the pulses both became weaker. The weaker of the pulses would become compressed by my finger and disappear more quickly than the other.

In studying the pulse, I did not press on the artery where it crosses the wrist bones because it obliterates too easily. I also learned that to be certain that each treatment had the most beneficial effect on the rate of blood flow, I should use three or four fingers to determine the push to the pulse, and the tips, not the balls, of the fingers should press into the groove occupied by the artery. The wrist must be pronated to feel the pulse accurately, and it should be in the same position relative to the level of the heart each time the pulse is palpated.

First, I gave a very light pressure on the pulse with all four fingers. To this light pressure, the pulse may seem large and strong. Next, I gave a gradually increasing pressure with each pulse beat to get the full impact of each wave, counting the increasing pressure of the fingers, until the pulse was cut off. Then I released the pressure a little and observed how quickly and how strongly the pulse came back and pushed by the fingers. If five or six uniform increases in the pressure of the fingers were required to cut off the pulse in one arm, and only two or three in the other, the former was the better pulse.

With an overloaded heart, there may be a strong, large pulse, but it may lack an entirely normal push. The pulse may not recover quickly from compression; the heart may be hammering against an insuperable resistance. In this case, a few minutes of spinal treatment will increase the push to the pulse, but perhaps reduce the size of the wave. In other words, the blood moves more rapidly but with less work on the heart.

Differences in Right and Left Pulses

Changes in the right and left pulses in Classes 1 and 4 should be carefully observed. Unless the heart is overactive from gas pressure, excitement, exercise, or in order to carry an overload, the left pulse is better than the right for those in Class 1. Sometimes this is not evident until after two or three cold applications. As the arteries contract from the use of the cold applications, the right pulse gradually becomes stronger than the left. Finally, perhaps suddenly, the right pulse also becomes poor. This means that one has passed into Class 4, the normal class.

Both pulses may be very poor at the beginning of treatment, and will, therefore, be no clue as to anyone's classification. After a few applications, however, if one is in Class 1, the left pulse will improve first, and then the right pulse will improve after more spinal contracting stimuli, when one passes into the normal Class 4.

During the changes through which the pulses of one in Class 1 pass, at a certain point as the right pulse is improving, the pulses must be equal. It is not always possible, therefore, from feeling the pulse once, to determine anyone's classification. Contracting stimuli must be applied to the spine to get the reaction.

The process of getting a Class 1 (relaxed arteries) person into the normal Class 4 may be compared to getting a station on the radio. As the knob is turned slowly, the sound becomes better and then fades out. Then the knob is turned back until the sound is clearest. Similarly, as the cold applications are being made, the heart, as well as the arteries, begins to function more powerfully, as evidenced by the pulse. At a certain point the heart begins to beat more heavily, or to "knock," and the quality of the pulse becomes poorer. The pulse wave may become larger because the heart is "knocking," but the pulse wave is more compressible. This means that one has passed over the line into Class 4. Therefore, it is necessary to give a few seconds of relaxing treatment on the upper third of the back to remove the excess load from the heart and obtain the best pulse, and therefore, the best rate of blood flow. Unless the knob is turned a little too far, or the cold applications are used a little too long, no one can be certain when the best sound on the radio, or the best rate of blood flow, has been obtained.

When one in Class 1 actually reaches Class 4, the right pulse is better than the left. In the process, when he arrives in Class 2, if too many cold applications have been put on the upper and lower thirds of the spine, the heart may beat harder and the left pulse may be better, or both pulses become poor. After a few seconds of relaxing treatment on the upper and lowest thirds, the left pulse again will become better than the right. As the cold applications are put on the "middle third" (or when necessary, on the third and fourth lumbar segments only, i.e., the 2 inches), the right pulse will become better than the left. As one passes into Class 4 and the right pulse becomes more compressible, two or three seconds of relaxing treatment may be necessary for the middle third to reduce the excess tension and make the best pulse. Normally the right pulse is stronger than the left.

The Object of Treatment

The object of all treatment is to make the push to the pulse as strong as possible, with as little stress on the heart as possible.

Obviously, if the heart is not strong enough to start a large, normal pulse wave, there cannot be a large, normal pulse wave at the wrist. Both the heart and arteries must be functioning properly to have a normal pulse wave. Any deviation from the normal shape or size indicates a retarded rate of blood flow.

No matter how large the pulse may be, there is inadequate proper movement of the blood stream if the pulse disappears under a slight pressure of the finger. Many of the strongest people, when at rest, have poor pulses. When a person is actively exercising, his pulse may be excellent, but it is poor when the person is resting. To be absolutely certain that one is gaining, the pulse—even of people in bed—must be kept continuously better than the pulse of many strong people who are at rest. Strong people have hearts which will carry a great overload for years. Often the strongest people are running down, or living with extremely overloaded hearts, and have little margin for safety. In this case the heart may stop suddenly, as has been observed frequently.

The heart may be beating so heavily that one feels the throbbing unpleasantly. The blood pressure may be normal or elevated to 220 mm. of Hg., and yet if the pulse is small or compressible, the blood is not passing through the body at a proper rate. If the rate of blood flow is very poor, no symptom should be expected to improve. After treatment has brought the blood pressure to normal, stopped the heavy thumping of the heart, and made a large pulse with a strong thrust, then there is a good circulation and one can expect logically that the symptoms will improve.

A pump slows when its load is increased, so also the heart. When the load on the heart is increased further, the heart then begins to make smaller and faster contractions. Therefore, any slowing or acceleration of the pulse rate shows that the heart is being obliged to increase its efforts. It is important to know the normal rate of pulse for each person and to continue each treatment until the normal pulse rate is obtained.

In a majority of people the number of heartbeats per minute is 72. In a smaller number of people the number of beats per minute is 66, and a small minority average 60 beats per minute. The usual so-called "normal range" is from 60-90, but 60-90 is too indefinite. If a man's pulse is normally 60, 90 means that the heart is beating 50 percent too fast. (See page 41 under "A Poor Circulation Even with a Normal Blood Pressure.")

After an apparently complete treatment of anyone in Class 3 or 4, if the left pulse is better than the right, it means that there is still an unnecessary load on the heart. It is very interesting to see the right pulse become the stronger after a little more treatment to relax a constriction of the intestine holding the gas. There will then be the best rate of blood flow with the least stress on the heart.

The amount and location of incarcerated gas is always a great factor in increasing the load on the heart. The immediate relief often obtained for heart symptoms by belching is an obvious illustration of this fact. Spinal treatment which relaxes any constriction of the gastrointestinal system and allows the gas to move in the normal downward direction produces incredible relief to overloaded hearts.

The Rate of Blood Flow and Fever

The rate of blood flow determines the temperature of the body. Even people who have had one or two degrees of subnormal temperature for years have acquired a normal temperature as soon as the rate of blood flow was good. The same is true of a rise in temperature above normal. Whatever helps to restore the normal rate of blood flow helps to reduce the fever. As soon as the rate of blood flow is brought to normal by any treatment, the fever leaves.

If the fever is the result of some infection, the better the rate of blood flow, the more quickly it will combat the infection and reduce the fever.

Fever ends with perspiration. Even with influenza, warm compresses on the spine will relax the excess tension and bring on heavy perspiration.

If the patient is in Class 1, with relaxed arteries, the cold applications to the spine only will bring on perspiration and reduce the fever. If heat is used on one in the relaxed class with fever, it may stop perspiration and increase the fever.

Cold treatment of those in the normal tension class will aggravate their symptoms.

Sometimes when the rate of the flow of the blood is very poor, the body is unable to produce the proper and usual rise in temperature to produce fever. When treatment is given which overcomes the existing disturbances in the gastrointestinal system, as in some colds and flu, the temperature may not rise but may even drop below normal. After a treatment which controls the gastrointestinal symptoms entirely, the fever at first will rise one or two degrees higher than before, but then it will very quickly drop to normal.

One patient with an acute attack of bowel trouble had two degrees of fever at the beginning of a treatment. During the treatment the bowel condition was entirely controlled, but the fever rose two more degrees, then came down to normal in two hours. Perhaps the abdominal temperature was higher.

I learned that a warm compress was more effective than the hands in relaxing the tension which exists in fevers. In the early years of my work, I used my hands exclusively in treating people with fever. Eventually in treating some people with high fever, I applied the warm compress to one end of the spine, and my hands to the other end. I could observe that the desired perspiration developed more rapidly under the compress than under my hands.

Dr. Arnold and Reciprocal Vascular Balances

It is incontrovertible that if an artery divides into two branches, and if one branch is dilated gently, less blood will go to the other. And if one branch is made to contract, the other must dilate. Dr. Arnold postulated that if the muscular branch of the posterior intercostal artery is made to contract, the other branch (dorsal), which supplies the spinal cord, will dilate. Similarly, if treatment dilates the muscular branch, the dorsal branch will contract. This means that the blood supply to the spinal cord can be controlled by treating the spinal muscles. Since the nerve cells in the spinal cord control every part of the body including the blood supply to the brain, treatment of the spinal muscles controls the circulation to every part of the body.

I accepted this proposition as a working hypothesis. It has worked. Frequently quite obvious swellings in the arms or legs or eyes or throat have subsided during one spinal treatment. Often in these cases previous local treatments had accomplished nothing. Incidentally, the spinal muscles, which controlled the congestion, were contracted and usually sensitive. These spinal disturbances subsided as the congestion being treated subsided.

The compensatory balance in the blood vessels of the inner and outer ear is well illustrated by the successful use of a warm water bottle in treating an earache.

There are many such compensatory balances in different parts of the body. Probably the most important one is that between the blood vessels of the spinal cord and those of the spinal muscles. This balance enables one to control the blood vessels in the spinal cord by treating the exterior blood vessels.

The fact of the blood supply to the spinal cord was the basis of Dr. Arnold's work, and it explains the effects of all kinds of spinal treatment.

As I have already indicated, heat treatments are injurious to people with relaxed arteries, but sometimes they are also injurious to people with extreme tension of the blood vessels and of the spinal muscles. This is because excessive heat dilates both the muscular and the dorsal arteries supplying the spinal cord.

There is a balance between the blood vessels in the skin and the underlying muscles. This is confirmed by the success of liniments and other counterirritants on the skin to relieve muscular pains. Therefore, if one has extreme tension of the spinal muscles and often perspires excessively, heat treatments may dilate the blood vessels in the skin still more. When this dilation reaches a certain point, it will dilate the blood vessels in the head and spinal cord also and aggravate any symptom. Such people may suffer from hot weather as much as people with relaxed arteries. To my knowledge, few men have considered the significance of Dr. Arnold's fundamental proposition about the blood supply to the spinal cord.

The Rate of Blood Flow and Sleep

I learned much of my practical physiology at night when I could not sleep. I learned what was disturbing my circulation and preventing my sleeping. Lying on my back, with my knees raised, I gently pressed on my abdomen and watched the changes in the contraction and retraction of my intestines. I especially observed changes in the ascending and descending colon, after I used a variety of stimulations of the spinal nerves on one or both sides of my spine.

If I could not sleep, I noticed always that my pulse was poor. If I was in Class 1, the relaxed class, cool spinal applications produced a good pulse and sleep, but relaxing treatment prevented sleep by making my pulse poor. If I was in the tension class, stretching the spinal muscles by pressure with the hand or with a short-handled rubber brush relaxed any contractions of the stomach or intestines. The gas moved downward, my pulse became strong, and I began to feel sleepy. The brush enabled me to reach the "acnestis," the "unscratchable" part of the back between the shoulder blades.

I decided that sleeping is just as automatic as digestion or any other nervous mechanism, and it depends on the rate of blood flow. Therefore, if I did not go to sleep properly, I treated the circulatory problem, and as soon as the pulse was good, I would go to sleep. Before I identified the circulatory classes, my condition was serious, because even sleeping made matters worse. For when one relaxes or tries to "let go" in order to go to sleep, the blood vessels of the body relax. Since my blood vessels were already too much relaxed, this additional relaxation produced a sense of suffocation, and a desperate effort to get up. Therefore, going to sleep had become a frightful ordeal for years before I learned the cause.

My conclusion that there had been a lack of tone in the blood vessels of my brain ever since I had brain fever at the age of six would seem to explain all my symptoms. I certainly learned that before treating myself I had a lack of arterial tone all through the body and the cerebral blood vessels must have shared in this tendency.

Whenever I had too much tension from fatigue or cold, I relaxed the tension by spinal treatment. In this way I maintained the best rate of blood flow with the minimum effort of the heart and learned what causes most variations in heart action.

I learned that my gas attacks and bowel disturbances usually came from cold, not from any food that I had eaten. If my circulation was much disturbed, nothing digested well.

If I ever was conscious of the beating of my heart when my ear was against the pillow, I decided that my heart was being obliged to work harder than necessary to maintain the normal rate of blood flow. The function and design of the heart are to maintain the best rate of blood flow at all times under all circumstances and as long as possible. In order to save my heart from doing unnecessary work all night and in order to have the best rate of blood flow, I tested the abdominal tension very briefly many times.

In most people the blood vessels of the body generally relax during sleep. In some people the tension increases because the rate of blood flow is slowed down by the inactivity during sleep. When people get out of bed and sit or stand, the tension of their blood vessels increases. The blood pressure, therefore, may be higher when one is in the vertical position than when reclining.

I have observed that many tremors and tics are quiet when one first awakens, but start up as soon as one begins any activity. This would seem to indicate that there is greater pressure of blood in the blood vessels of the brain when the blood vessels of the body begin to contract.

Lumbar Region and the Heart

In order to control various heart attacks, after getting into the tension class, I learned that relaxing the tension in the lumbar segments inside and outside the body did more to reduce the overload on the heart than any treatment of any other area. This has been true of a large percentage of people I have treated. Every time I had cardiac irregularity, I wondered whether the heart itself was affected or simply overloaded. For sixty years these disturbances were proved to be entirely the result of tension, because up to the present date as soon as the tension was relaxed, the heart action became normal.

I have concluded, therefore, that the heart is usually the "victim of circumstances" and that much of the attention given to the heart is misdirected. This fact has been confirmed in many people by the immediate improvement in the heart action after tension in the lumbar region has been relaxed.

A Poor Circulation Even with a Normal Blood Pressure

I learned that a normal blood pressure did not always indicate that the circulation was good. On the contrary, the rate of blood flow may be very poor if the pulse is poor, even with a normal blood pressure. The size and shape of the pulse wave are the best indicators of the rate of blood flow. If the pulse is right, the blood pressure will be normal.

It is a mistake to imagine that a heavy pulse always means a good circulation. The heart may only be working hard to overcome excessive resistance, and this may be the result of excessive tension controlled in one spinal segment only.

A fast pulse means the heart is being obliged to work harder because the arteries are working inadequately. As mentioned before, it is a fallacy to say that a normal pulse is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. If a man's normal pulse is 60, a rate of 90 means that the heart is making 30 unnecessary beats every minute.

After I discovered how to restore the normal rate of the pulse, I learned that the normal rate of all adults, after proper treatment, is 60, 66, or 72.

General Versus Local Circulation

Sometimes while treating a local area of the spinal muscles on myself, expecting as usual to control some symptom quickly and completely, I saw I was not making much progress until I realized that the whole circulation was poor. After treating other areas of the spinal, muscles and getting a good pulse, the local area rapidly responded to treatment and returned to normal. No local treatment of any kind can be completely successful if the whole circulation is failing.

I learned that it is important for a patient in Class 1, who needs to have the blood vessels in some local area contracted, to have some extra applications of the cold made only to a few inches of the back, over the area controlling these parts. When all the arteries of the body are contracting simultaneously as a result of applying cold to the whole spine, the maximum local effect cannot be produced because the contraction of each area is opposed by the contraction in the other areas.

In some unusual conditions, if the heart is weak and might be disturbed by the extra load which may develop when one first passes into the tension class (Class 4), it may be wiser to apply the cold treatment for a while chiefly over the area controlling the local symptom.

When treating people with Meniere's Disease, for example, I learned that all the blood vessels of the body were relaxed, as in Class 1, or the abdominal vessels only, as in Class 2, not simply those in the inner ear. Contracting treatment contracted all the relaxed blood vessels and the symptoms disappeared. It is working backward to try to treat local symptoms if the whole circulation is inadequate.

If one has relaxed arteries and relaxing treatment is given, the heart rises to the emergency, the pulse becomes temporarily stronger to compensate for the increased relaxation of the arteries, and one may feel better temporarily, but feel worse later.

Similarly, when the blood pressure is up and cold applications are made, the extra constriction may cause the pressure to drop temporarily to normal because the heart is overloaded. If the heart is strong, the cold applications would send the blood pressure up at once, or later.

Most Symptoms Due to a Retarded Circulation

My conclusion that all of my symptoms and disorders were due to circulatory disturbances was confirmed by the results of treating other people who had a great variety of chronic and acute disorders which disappeared when the circulation was restored to normal by treatment.

These recoveries often took place in one treatment in acute attacks and occurred gradually in chronic disorders. They were due to only one factor—restoring the normal rate of flow of the blood. When the pulse was good, the patient was improving. If the pulse was poor, nobody improved. In view of the continuous dependence of every tissue of the body on the rate of blood flow, it became very evident in all of these recoveries that the previous explanations, diagnoses, prognoses, and treatments were based on false premises. They all ignored the circulatory cause of the disorders, and were therefore unsatisfactory, inaccurate, misleading, or untrue. This has especially been the experience of innumerable people with relaxed arteries.

Since many patients had to have opposite kinds of treatment for different parts of the body, any pharmacological attempt to correct the disorder was somewhat misdirected.

Having learned that my phobias and other intense ideas and feelings were due to poor circulation to the brain, I was not satisfied with psychological explanations of my symptoms. No one blames a man in a dead faint for his symptoms. Neither should anyone blame a man for his bad feelings if he is living all the time in a partial faint, as I was, and as thousands are today.

The terminal stages of those in Class 1 and 2 are usually misunderstood and seem contradictory, but they are not. The rise in blood pressure is actually due to the relaxation of part of the arterial system for which the heart tries to compensate. As the arteries continue to relax in the interior of the body, the controlling nerves which contract the arteries become weaker as a result of the poor rate of the flow of the blood. The heart, if strong enough, rises to the emergency and tries to supplement the failure of the arteries.

Extra heart action may send the blood pressure above normal, even though the arteries are relaxed in the interior of the body. In this condition, any heat treatment or vasodilator can only add to the trouble.

In conclusion, more attention should be devoted to what constitutes the load on the heart, instead of to the heart itself.