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Miscellaneous Factors Affecting Health
Proper treatment can relieve a variety of conditions, but there are numerous factors within the patient's control which affect the circulation. For instance, recovery will be slowed or prevented if the circulation is disturbed by the excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. These substances are irritants or depressants to weak cells—especially to vasomotor cells. Recovery will also be delayed if a patient is persistently overworking, that is, living beyond his daily income of physical strength. Fatigue, even from too much talking, can aggravate any trouble from nervous prostration to muscular rheumatism.
The results to be expected from treatment are limited not only by the extent of tissue changes, but also by the degree of irritability which the nerve cells have acquired. If the blood pressure has been very high for years on account of extreme irritability of the vasomotor nerves, not only is the rate of recovery slow, but exposure to the slightest cold or fatigue adds at once to the existing vascular disturbance in the spinal cord and to the extreme irritability of all nerves, especially the weakest nerves. Therefore, in extreme cases, little can be accomplished without the intelligent cooperation of the patient.
If the patient has adopted some extreme theory in regard to diet (either starvation or over-eating), or if the patient is addicted to "cold swims" or other ill-considered attempts to get "fresh air" regardless of the effect on the most sensitive nerve cells, the attempt to reduce the nervous irritability by maintaining the necessary uniform circulation becomes difficult or impossible. It is not the diseases, but the people, that are hard to cure.
The importance of emphasizing the rate of blood flow was confirmed by a statement from a prominent British pathologist, Lazarus Barlow. He wrote, "Every pathological condition is fundamentally a nutritive one" (Manual of General or Experimental Pathology); and it is the blood stream which carries the nutrition to all of the tissues of the body.
Since in all treatments I wished to introduce only one factor at a time—the rate of blood flow—I did not allow myself to be sidetracked by any system of diet.
I did, however, mention the subject of diet to one gentleman with a stomach disorder, because I learned he was eating a dozen raw apples every day. His reply was, "But I like apples." Putting personal preference above the categorical imperative has been the cause of all kinds of human evils since the Garden of Eden. This man's answer was simply a humorous illustration of the fact.
Fortunately for me, my friends have been chiefly ministers, missionaries, and educators. As a rule they cooperated in the effort to get themselves "well" more than many other people, and therefore they did not "live to eat, but ate to live."
The fact that many people, like myself, with a lack of arterial tone develop extreme symptoms from taking even one teaspoonsful of any alcoholic beverage should suggest the boundless damage being done to the public through the use of alcoholic drinks. Being vasodilators, alcoholic beverages can, and commonly do, weaken the tone of the cerebral blood vessels—even if one is in the normal tension class. Men who are depending on the daily use of alcohol to maintain their good feelings and courage are living in a precarious condition.
Every businessman knows that if he lives beyond his financial income, he will become bankrupt. Most men live beyond their physical incomes, but they try to ignore the fact until they are bankrupt (i.e., until they get a stroke, high blood pressure, a heart attack, or some nervous disorder).
When the nerves begin to show the results of living beyond the physical income, some people resort to stimulants to whip out any remaining nervous energy or try to increase it by restoring their failing rate of blood flow.
When seeking expert advice these people are often told to "cheer up and forget it" or, "What's the 'psychosomatter' with you?"
There are other indications of nervous fatigue which should not be ignored. Increasing tension of the spinal muscles, arteries, or gastrointestinal system is usually a sign of nervous fatigue.
The cells of the brain and spinal cord maintain all the activities of the body. They are similar to an electric battery in discharging and recharging energy. If the discharge is greater than the recharge, the battery runs down, and anything can happen to the body or to any part of it. Something is certain to happen.
The fatigue of each day increases the irritability of the nervous system, producing greater tension in muscle tissues. Ideally, each day's added tension is lost during sleep, but many people acquire a little more tension than is lost. Americans, perhaps more than people of any other nation, are trying to do everything possible to discharge the battery rapidly by "speeding up" in every department of life: in education, in business, in sports, in pleasure-seeking, and every kind of excitement or "thrill."
As a result, America leads the world in all departments of life— even in the number of automobile accidents, train and airplane wrecks, gambling, prize fights, murders, robberies, divorces, and the consumption of liquor and tobacco. Those who see the results—increasing muscular tension or other nervous symptoms—are trying to relax by taking sunbaths, sedatives, sleeping medicines, vitamins, or anything recommended by anybody.
Normally, fatigue produces a feeling of muscular restfulness. If the fatigue is excessive, however, if stimulants, sedatives, and narcotics are used, or if the brain is overtired, or if not enough sleep is taken, or if people live a continuous round of excitement, the normal sense of fatigue is lost, and the whole nervous system becomes more and more irritable. Sleep and rest become increasingly difficult.
As the brain becomes more irritable, it becomes more active. This may seem desirable to most people, but if the process continues, the penalties are appalling. If mental depression begins to develop, it is relieved either by mental activity which diverts the mind or by physical activity which improves the rate of blood flow. These efforts should be beneficial, but if they increase the fatigue, the rate of exhaustion is only accelerated. Hence the importance of not taking diversion out of sleeping or resting time.
Effect of Sea Level
While I was in the "relaxed" class (Class 1), going to the seashore produced the most extreme symptoms of low tension I ever had, all within two or three hours. I usually stayed at the shore several days—once two weeks—trying to solve the problem. I realized that millions of people lived at sea level (and Hollanders even below sea level), therefore, I should not blame the sea level. However, years later, after I had learned to contract the arteries by cool spinal applications, I could go to the shore without the harmful results.
Through the following years I learned that other people with relaxed arteries had the same result at the shore, with the exception of those who were strong enough to take cold surf bathing. At the shore my gums began to bleed, my bowels relaxed, and the joints of my fingers swelled. The swelling subsided two or three days after I left the shore.
Going up to an altitude of a few hundred feet reduced all my symptoms, but if I stayed long at the shore, it took time and considerable ingenuity to overcome the slump produced. One summer, after a collapse at the shore, I was obliged to spend several weeks in a hammock, wondering what had happened to my anatomy.
I finally asked my mother to make for me a small canvass corset with straps, to compress the abdomen. This raised my intra-abdominal pressure enough so that I could stand. After a game of tennis I was able to resume my former activity. My condition, however, was always precarious until I learned how to restore my normal arterial tone by using the cool spinal stimuli.
Most unexpectedly, I found that an altitude of 1,500 and 2,000 feet caused the same symptoms as sea level. This was a great problem for a long time, but having observed that an altitude of even 1,000 feet always contracted the blood vessels in the skin, I decided that the increasing contraction of the cutaneous blood vessels pushed more blood into the relaxed abdominal blood vessels and, therefore aggravated all the symptoms. In other words, when the external blood vessels contracted, the blood was forced into my relaxed abdominal vessels and the symptoms of low tension were increased. Thus it became difficult or impossible to maintain a vertical position.
All of this harmonized with the fact that, as many people know, high mountains are injurious for those with high blood pressure. People in the normal Class 4 have the greatest resistance to all changes in their environment.
I frequently experimented by going to these different altitudes before and after I had learned how to contract my arteries by treatment. When the circulation was normal, I spent whole summers at the same altitudes without harm, but if the arteries relaxed, all the symptoms and problems recurred.
I learned, therefore, that higher altitudes are not good for those with hypotension of the arterial system or of the gastrointestinal system.
Going to the most favorable altitude and having a better circulation to the brain improved various mental states which had developed as the result of poor arterial tone.
Prevention of Illness
I learned that the Bible contains even physiological statements which are of incalculable value. Everyone knows that the Mosaic Laws contain valuable advice for the health of the Jewish nation. Combined with their religion, these laws enabled the nation to outlive all their enemies—even during centuries of persecution. For example, Moses wrote, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11). In recent years, since men began to use blood transfusions, the Gentile world has realized the truth of this statement.
In Proverbs 25:20 we read, "As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather." This means that suddenly chilling the surface of the body is a very foolish and dangerous act. Horse jockeys realize this fact—so do most athletes. Personally, I think it is the immediate cause of most illnesses. It is based on the fact that there is a relative tone in the blood vessels of the body, and if one area of blood vessels contracts suddenly and violently, the blood may be forced into any part of the body where there is a poor arterial tone. If young people, overheated by exercise, dive into cold water, they may develop anything, even polio. If millions of people are subjected to sudden cold, as in a blizzard, it is a mistake to blame resulting illnesses on "virus X." Such chills disturb the normal relative tone of the blood vessels and produce congestion somewhere in the body.
Immediately after exposure to cold, warming up the skin by any method is better than taking a pill after the congestion develops.
Wearing proper clothing can help prevent illness. An Eskimo needs more clothing than an African; between these extremes there is a wide range for care and intelligence. Some men boast that they wear the same kind of clothing summer and winter, but most people need more clothes in a blizzard than on the Fourth of July.
Very strong people can go swimming in ice water. However, cold does contract the blood vessels of the skin and muscles and adds to the work of the heart. Most systems of treatment use hot or warm baths to relax the arterial and muscular tension produced by cold and fatigue.
Sudden changes from heat or warmth to cold are dangerous. Insurance companies know this, which is why they charge a higher premium rate for a man working in and out of a walk-in refrigerator. Even the cold produced by air conditioning presents problems for some people. A draft on the back of the neck is always dangerous, whether in a car or from an air conditioning vent. The Spaniards have a malediction, "May the wind blow on the back of your neck."
Many people need continuous warmth to keep well. They usually end up in Florida. Many people obtain the same result by wearing more clothing. Some people with excessive tension of the cutaneous blood vessels keep alive by wearing extra warm clothing. Styles are no guide in this matter.
It is important to note that too much heat can be debilitating. Cool air encourages greater physical activity than warm air, and therefore more oxygen gets to the tissues.
Use of Turkish Towel in Treating Oneself
Many of the beneficial results of relaxing treatment for oneself may be easily and efficiently obtained by using a Turkish towel, preferably over some loose clothing. The treatment may be given when one gets out of bed or before going to bed.
The towel should be comfortable, but rough enough to produce a little traction on the skin. It may be important to have the towel warmed.
The towel should be moved backward and forward across the back, with just enough pressure to pull the skin for a very short distance without sliding the towel. There should be no rubbing or friction (all friction adds to the tension).
The towel should be held across the back, with one hand near each end of the towel toward the front of the body.
A second movement would be to put the towel over one's shoulder and then pull it up and down the back. It should also be used diagonally across the neck and shoulders so as to reach the deeper muscles.
One may stand erect while using the towel or may lean in various directions so as to get the pull on different parts of the back and sides of the body.
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