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Discoveries Related to the Gastrointestinal System


Striking similarities exist between the arterial and alimentary systems, a subject I have discussed in detail in The Control of the Circulation. There is a pulse wave in the arteries and a peristaltic wave in the alimentary system. When one system relaxes too much, so does the other, and the tension of both systems can be controlled from the outside of the body by proper spinal stimuli.

If the arteries relax too much, the blood is not propelled through the body at the proper rate. Similarly, if the gastrointestinal system becomes relaxed (or atonic), it fails to propel the contents of the intestines adequately. If one has hypertension of the arteries, there will be hypertension (spasticity) of the intestinal system and the rate of flow and the contents will not be propelled adequately.

Effects of Treatment on Intestinal Gas

I found that I could increase or decrease the amount of gas in the stomach and intestines by controlling the spinal reflexes.

Having discovered how to contract and dilate the blood vessels in the bowels, I learned that when I gave treatment to dilate the blood vessels of the stomach, it caused a rapid distention of the stomach. This distention subsided in a few minutes when I reversed the treatment.

A relaxing treatment liberates the gas from the stomach in greater volume than the usual amount. Therefore the gas may accumulate temporarily at the ileocecal valve or further down in the intestinal system. This adds to the load on the heart. This extra heart action may cause one to feel hot, or the gas pressure may disturb the rate of blood flow and temporarily aggravate any symptom. The blood pressure, if high, comes down as the gas leaves the stomach, but blood pressure may rise again while the gas is retarded at any lower point.

I learned how to reduce considerable distentions of gas either by treating the spinal segments (chiefly the 4th-6th thoracic) which control the blood supply to the stomach, or by relaxing any constriction in the gastrointestinal system, allowing the gas to move downward as it normally does to the point where it is reabsorbed in the lowest part of the bowel. That gas is reabsorbed from the lowest part of the alimentary system is proved by the fact that during treatment, large distentions produced by the gas have subsided and no gas has passed out of the body.

By palpating the stomach and intestines before and after applying relaxing and contracting spinal stimuli, it can be observed that gas always accumulates above the produced constriction. After reversing the spinal stimulus, it can be seen that the accumulated gas moves downward. Gas normally moves out of, not into, the stomach. When treatment relaxes the contracted pylorus, the gas obviously moves downward—sometimes some will be belched. When large amounts of gas are liberated from the stomach by treatment, some discomfort may be produced as the gas pushes through constricted areas of the intestine. The gas often arrives at the rectum in a minute or two.

Contraction of the ileocecal valve will slow the movement of gas. If the ileocecal valve is relaxed by spinal treatment, distention of the small intestine quickly subsides.

If the intestine has a chronic lack of tone, it may require a number of contracting treatments to bring the tone up to normal. Treating the 4th-6th thoracic segments, which control the gas formation, will reduce the distention of the whole gastrointestinal system.

Everything which dilates the blood vessels in the gastrointestinal system increases the rate of gas formation. This would include cold, fatigue, excitement, injury, and the menses. Eating anything draws more blood to the stomach and may cause too much gas. Naturally, too much or indigestible food can cause more gas by irritating the gastric blood vessels.

There are several misconceptions regarding intestinal gas. Excessive gas had been commonly (and wrongly) called "swallowed air," but many analyses have proved that atmospheric air is rarely found in the stomach. For this and other reasons, gas is not "swallowed air."

Gas is often mistakenly supposed to be the result of fermentation of food. This theory is quite inadequate, because after an operation, when no food is in the stomach, most people have the greatest amount of gas.

Contrary to what some people believe, gas pressure and pain may sometimes be relieved by taking food. This is because during digestion there is an alternate opening and closing of the pylorus. Therefore, while the food is passing out of the stomach, the gas moves with it. Thus, eating may actually relieve distress instead of causing extra gas.

The formation of gas, like all the functions of the body, is under the control of the nervous system. If the vasomotor nerves to the stomach are weak, any excitement may increase the formation of gas, often with incredible rapidity. Just as excitement causes some people to blush, in others the blood vessels of the kidney or intestine may dilate, producing more urine or diarrhea. Similarly, if excitement causes the blood vessels of the stomach to dilate, excess gas will be formed.

In summary, the pain of so-called intestinal indigestion comes from the pressure of gas, but the gas comes from the stomach. After a relaxing treatment, gas may leave the stomach in larger amounts for a short time than when propelled normally by the peristaltic wave. Therefore, frequently after the pylorus is relaxed by spinal treatment, there may be some discomfort as the gas is pushed out of the stomach and downward, especially when it accumulates above the ileocecal valve or some other constriction. This pressure of incarcerated flatulence may temporarily disturb the heart action.

Controlling Gas Formation

In seeking to relieve gas discomfort before sleeping, I encountered many different degrees of gas pressure and resulting variations in heart action. Sometimes if I treated the whole spinal area, the gas would move and the stomach and bowels would become normally soft and relaxed. Very soon, however, the stomach and intestines would refill, often with great rapidity. Eventually I realized that I had not sufficiently treated the area controlling the formation of gas, that is, the upper thoracic segments. Extra treatment of that area reduced the excessive gas formation, everything became normal, and I would always fall asleep. Sometimes it required two or three hours to reduce to normal an acute disturbance in the stomach and intestines.

I learned that when the cold is applied to the spinal nerves, the arterial and alimentary tubes contract simultaneously. But if the alimentary tube is filled excessively with gas, it cannot contract normally and the cold applications will have limited contracting effect.

In this condition, four or five preliminary applications must be made to the area between the shoulder blades and on the left side of the pine. If one is in the relaxed class, the immediate result of the applications is remarkable. The distention of the stomach and intestines subsides, and then the cold applications on the whole spine have the maximum effect.

Sometimes the tension would relax in all the gastrointestinal system except at the ileocecal valve. Treatment of the small area on the left side only, about the 10th-12th thoracic segments, relaxed the valve, and the gas moved normally. This was a most important discovery for my work.

The Heart and Gas

By pressing gently on the stomach and intestines, I noticed that wherever I could feel the pulsation of the artery the most, it was there that the movement of gas was retarded. As soon as I relaxed the pylorus or any constriction of the intestine by warmth or pressure on the controlling areas of the spinal muscles, the gas moved, and instantly the throbbing of the arteries was no longer transmitted to the hand. At the end of every treatment I had a strong pulse. By pressing on the stomach and intestines and watching the amount and location of incarcerated gas, I learned where the gas originated and where it was absorbed. By relaxing or contracting the stomach and intestines, I learned how to restore the normal gastrointestinal tension.

I also determined that in critical cases it may be unwise to turn the patient on the left side on account of the greater pressure of the distended stomach against the heart.

Gas may cause any circulatory symptom—from palpitation of the heart to angina. It also may cause the most appalling mental distress, with immediate relief experienced as soon as the gas is expelled.

In treating various kinds of nervous and mental conditions (melancholia, epilepsy, insanity, vertigo, etc.), one sees the uniform relation between aggravation of these symptoms and the pressure of gas. The immediate effects of spinal treatment on the production of gas are most striking, and these results are obtained within limits in spite of the presence of food in the digestive tract. One can hear the gas begin to move and feel the muscles relax.

I have seen treatment bring relief even when a patient was so distended with gas that oxygen was being used to sustain life. On one occasion a patient became unconscious from mental shock after coming home from the hospital. Two hours of cold applications had no effect. Then four applications on the left shoulder to reduce the gas enabled the arteries to contract.

This illustrates how gas may prevent the intestines and stomach from contracting. It shows that the gas, which prevents the stomach and intestines from contracting as usual from cold applications, also retards the contraction of the arteries.

Effects of Opposite Treatments

If I manipulated the lumbar spinal segments when I was in the relaxed class, diarrhea would result. Later I learned that cold applications would restore the normal bowel condition.

If I were in the tension class, cold applications would disturb the legs and bowels, and warm treatment would correct the disturbance.

Often, when I had an attack of diarrhea, spinal treatment would change the mucus membrane of the intestines from its secreting activity back to its normal absorbing function. This occurred within one hour. The fluid passed off through the kidneys, the over-activity of the intestine ceased, and the next movement of the bowels, hours later, was normal. There is the same possibility of restoring the function of any organ in the body to normal.