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Discoveries Related to the Nervous System
Assuming that one's heart is normal, if all the arteries are brought to the ideal tension, there will be the maximum rate of blood flow, with the minimum stress on the heart. As normal tension is restored, recovery of the nervous mechanisms of the body will follow a logical and necessary order.
First to recover are the nerves which control the circulation. These are affected by the cold applications.
Second, the nerves which control the gastrointestinal system begin to recover. This second stage requires the relaxing treatments for any segments controlling internal contractions.
Third to recover are the nerves which control the muscular system. After the arteries and the gastrointestinal system recover, muscular symptoms may develop.
Fourth, the brain—the intellectual center—recovers. After physical symptoms disappear, nervous symptoms may temporarily get worse.
It would have been impossible to learn these facts if I had not also learned that there is a threshold of irritation in all nerves and that all stimuli must be graduated according to the degree of irritability of the nerves in every part of the body.
Because my whole purpose for myself and all others was to maintain the best possible rate of blood flow, I obviously was obliged to determine the cause of any change in the circulation. The two chief causes of increased irritability of the nerves are fatigue and cold.
In treating people—even with arthritis—who are in Class 1, a stage of improvement develops which harmonizes with the order of recovery of the four sets of nerves. After the arteries have contracted, the irritability of the nerves becomes greater in the visceromotor nerves (those related to the internal organs) and then in the musculomotor nerves (those controlling the movement of muscles). Therefore, the muscles may contract a little more, until relaxing treatment is begun.
The Threshold of Irritation
After passing out of the class of relaxed arterial tension into the normal tension class, I observed that any treatment given to relax excessive tension only increased the tension if the treatment was too strenuous. The pulse became weaker because the arteries contracted, and gas was retained because the intestines and stomach contracted from the too strenuous treatment. This pointed out the threshold of irritation for all nerves, as well as the different degrees of irritability in different segments of the spinal cord.
Since pain increases the irritability of all the nerve centers and produces the most powerful local and general vasomotor disturbances, it is easy to see why, for weak and sensitive patients, a great many alleged therapeutic procedures are useless or injurious. In many conditions a few seconds of the lightest possible pressure on certain spinal nerves will produce the most powerful and beneficial results, whereas more pressure would be injurious. It is plain, therefore, that great caution should be exercised by those using spinal vibrators, spinal massage, to say nothing of spinal cautery or concussion.
Just as too much manual pressure will irritate the nerves, so also too much heat will aggravate instead of reduce symptoms. The same law is true of stretching spinal muscles. Gentle stretchings will relax tension; stretching muscles too hard irritates the nerves and increases tension. This law will explain the many failures in all systems of physical treatments. All discussions of "techniques" are useless unless this law is kept in mind.
Having lived for years with the most extreme weakness and irritability of the whole nervous system, I am in a position to understand why different people and different areas of the same person may react differently to the same amount of stimulation of any kind.
From personal experience and reports from others, I decided that spinal cautery does not relax the blood vessels inside the body as much as a warm hand on the spinal muscles. This is probably due to the fact that pain, at least at first, is a vasoconstrictor. It acts as a protective mechanism against the bad effects of accidents, operations, and some treatments.
I learned that every part of the nervous system is continuously dependent on the rate of blood flow, and that the weakest part of the nervous system is the first to be disturbed by any slowing of the rate of blood flow. This explains why for five years I failed to get any help from some of the best ophthalmologists in New York and Philadelphia. Even the eye salves they prescribed for my conjunctivitis made the condition worse. The trouble was that they treated the local symptom exclusive of the underlying circulatory deficiency. This shows how useless local treatments may be if the general circulation is disturbed.
Increasing Irritability after Too Much Fatigue
When I was trying to get well by taking more exercise, I noticed that the day after a football game or a long mountain climb my muscles felt more tense. I supposed at first that my muscles were in a stronger condition. However, this was not true, because when I put myself to a test of trying to jump over puddles or rivulets of water, I could not jump as far as when I was more rested.
Many people feel better every day in the evening than in the morning. That is due only to the increased irritability of the nerves controlling the circulation produced by fatigue. All stimulants also affect the nerves controlling the circulation primarily. Stimulants are simply irritants.
Tranquilizers are now the national vogue. They simply disguise fatigue symptoms and make them worse afterward. Many people live in this condition indefinitely, but it is a prelude to trouble; one cannot go on indefinitely in this fashion. The best tranquilizer for irritable nerves is the restoration of the normal rate of blood flow. Many people begin to feel better as soon as the rate of blood flow approaches normal.
After the cold applications start to contract the blood vessels, the vaso-constrictor nerves become less irritable. One's arteries may relax most easily just after the cold applications have begun, because the irritability has been reduced.
In my own case, the poor blood supply to my brain caused it to become hypersensitive to all stimuli.
Some mental distress was constant, but often the most intense phobias would become uppermost. Occasionally after I had reached the normal arterial-tension class, the arteries would relax again. If I walked too far, the abdominal blood vessels would relax and at first produce a sense of apprehension. Very soon some phobia would suddenly possess my mind. Whenever an intense phobia developed, I knew at once what had happened to my circulation, and I began to apply the cold to the spine as quickly as possible. Very soon the terrors would subside. I learned, therefore, that these intense ideas had an entirely physical cause.
When the mental distress continued, I could get some relief by substituting an inferior or less distressing idea for another worse one, but there was no complete relief until I learned how to overcome the anemia of the brain by contracting the arteries of the body.
Later I treated many people with mental disorders. Some were greatly depressed, even to the point of thinking that they had lost their souls. Any attempt to reassure them, or remind them of Bible promises, only added to their distress because they were already blaming themselves for their supposed spiritual failure. When the normal circulation to the brain was restored, all abnormal ideas faded away. This means that the most sensitive, or irritated, or fatigued nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord are the first to feel any slowing of the circulation and feel it most intensely. This is true of any phobia. Thus I learned that any suggestion of psychiatry for such people only added insult to injury.
Someone took the blood pressure and pulses of all the patients in an institution for mental disorders and found every kind of blood pressure and pulse. He concluded that the circulation has nothing to do with mental states. However, he did not know the relation between his findings and the rate of blood flow. One may have a poor circulation with a normal blood pressure and normal pulse rate. A hammering pulse does not indicate a good rate of circulation. The heart may be hammering to overcome increased resistance. If the blood pressure is high or low, the circulation is not normal or ideal.
Personally, I do not believe that anyone in a mental institution is having the ideal rate of blood flow through the brain.
Counter-Irritation Treatment to Correct Cerebral Circulation
When I began to try to learn something to help my condition, I realized that too much heat or excitement seemed to increase a sense of pressure or irritation, which I had in my head. I therefore tried to apply some gentle heat to areas of the head to draw the blood away from the brain.
Very gentle warm applications on my ears made the head feel a little better. A little more heat made the head feel worse. I tried the effect of a small plaster or adhesive on the back of the neck all night. The result was bad. A strip of tape on the whole spine made me much worse in three days. A warm water bottle on the stomach made me feel better for a few minutes, but brought on extreme dizziness.
These results were all similar to those produced by all kinds of heat treatments to which I had been subjected in previous years.
Increased mental activity raises the arterial tension. This often happens if a patient simply speaks while the blood pressure is being taken (without altering respirations). Treatment or work may accelerate blood flow through the brain and relieve mental symptoms temporarily; but with hypotension, unless arteries are made to contract, the nerve cells will be left with an impaired rate of nutrition.
Willpower may keep relaxed people going for years under mental effort or nervous excitement, but if the mental stimulus is lost or the vaso-constrictor nerves become too weak, the exertion of the willpower may be inadequate. I reached the point where the vaso-constrictors became too weak to respond to any mental effort, and any mental exertion or exercise of willpower made me weaker.
Years ago I decided, even after my general lack of arterial tone had been overcome by the cold applications, that the blood vessels in my brain, especially in certain areas, continued to be dilated to some extent as they had been most of my early life.
If I used my brain too much in any one day, the symptoms would begin to return. For a number of years before I discovered how cold applications affected the lack of tone in my blood vessels, my mental symptoms would be very easily aggravated if my head got too warm. The warmth dilated the blood vessels in my head. Mental symptoms were also aggravated if I got too cold, because blood was being forced into my head. The character of my mental distress changed with incredible rapidity, certainty, and regularity according to the changes in the rate of blood flow.
When my circulation was at its worst, the sunlight was very distressing following an attack of conjunctivitis. As my strength improved somewhat, the nervous symptoms subsided to some extent, but they would recur whenever I became tired or too warm or too cold.
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