CHAPTER VI: Cleansing and Stimulating the Alimentary Canal or Digestive System
In earlier days, the digestive system has been termed the human fire-box. It is the digestive system that the energy is extracted which runs the human machine. The importance of cleanliness and function in this part of our body cannot be too greatly emphasized. Very many degenerative and debilitating diseases have their beginnings in the stomach or some other part of the alimentary canal, or digestive system. Poor digestion, and imperfect assimilation, are the beginning of many incurable and deadly diseases.
In seeking methods for building unusual vigor and vitality, one of the first requirements is definite information on the care of the digestive system. Mere regularity of the bowels does not in all cases indicate a healthy condition of the stomach and bowels. A movement in order to be of the right sort should be so thorough that it leaves one with a feeling of emptiness and cleanliness. In other words, you should feel that the colon has been evacuated thoroughly. Many who have regular bowel movements do not have this satisfying sensation afterwards. When the movement is satisfactory in every way little or no straining is necessary. The colon simply empties itself thoroughly, and the evacuation is then complete. However, few have movements of the bowels that are satisfactory to this extent. There should be at least one bowel movement of this kind each day. Two movements of this character would be better, but one is sufficient if thorough.
DON'T OBSESS ABOUT REGULARITY
Do not acquire the idea that the bowels must move at a certain time each day with unintermitted regularity, for they are subject to the same extent as the appetite to what might be termed idiosyncrasies, according to environment and other influences. For instance, you are not always hungry at meal-time. Occasionally you eat very little or skip one or more meals, and it would be a serious mistake to goad your appetite with some stimulant or to eat a meal without an appetite.
One can hardly say that to force a bowel movement when its necessity is not naturally indicated is as harmful as to eat a meal when it is not craved, but unquestionably it is of advantage to have the bowels move of their own accord, as the result of a natural impulse. Movements that do not come through the call of an instinct for relief are rarely satisfactory, and, though we strongly emphasize the necessity of regularity of the bowels, it is not absolutely necessary that this call should come at a certain time during each day; and though it is undoubtedly of some advantage if such is the case, yet so long as there is one evacuation each day of the satisfactory sort described, you can be assured that your digestive system is in a normal and healthy condition.
However, should the bowels fail to move at the regular time this need not cause concern if you are feeling "up to the mark," and there are no other symptoms that would indicate possible trouble. I mention this alimentary peculiarity to enable my readers to avoid the slavish idea that it is impossible to be in health unless the bowels move at certain times with clock-like regularity.
ACCUMULATION OF 'POISONS'
Naturally when the contents of the digestive system are allowed to accumulate for a considerable period and there is sluggishness throughout the various parts of the small and large intestines, poisons of all kinds are generated and absorbed into the circulation, thus creating conditions ranging all the way from a feeling of lethargy to a condition of weakness and disease that confines one to an invalid's bed. Regardless of the attention that you may give to the other information in this book, it is extremely important that you should realize the necessity for active elimination.
It is necessary in the maintenance of alimentary health to avoid a slavish adherence to the theory of definitely regular movements of the bowels and still not to make the mistake of allowing them to become chronically sluggish or irregular. As a rule you should depend upon having regular movements each day, though if occasionally a day is missed you should not allow this deviation to worry you.
Recognizing as I do the great importance of a healthy digestive system I have given a vast amount of attention to the various methods which have been suggested from time to time by students of natural healing for assisting to regulate the functional processes of this important part of our organism. The flushing of the lower bowel for instance has been widely recommended, and it is unquestionably of value in some cases. However, it cleanses only the lower part of the digestive system, that is to say, the colon. It assists the small intestines no doubt by giving their contents free access to the colon, but yet this aid cannot directly affect them. If you have in view the cleansing of the entire digestive system from stomach to rectum, the enema is often of indifferent value.
The use of various laxative foods can be recommended in most instances, though even these sometimes fail to bring about satisfying results, and then again there are cases where they provide a remedy for only a short period, after which the bowels resume their old state of chronic torpidity. Naturally we cannot consider cathartics of any kind, notwithstanding their power to produce temporary results. In all cases the after effects of their use are seriously destructive to the delicate nerves controlling the digestive system and its functions in general. Cathartics invariably make the real condition more obstinate and serious.
It is well to remember that the real cause of constipation in virtually every instance, is the want of vital vigor of the structures and tissues involved. Digestion, though to a certain extent a chemical process, is very largely mechanical. The muscles of the stomach "churn" the food in the beginning of the digestive process, after which the circulatory muscle fibers of the small intestines continue the work. If these muscles are lacking in tone, if they are relaxed, prolapsed and weak, then they cannot properly perform their functions. In attempting to strengthen this important part of the bodily organism the necessity for increasing the vigor of the muscular tissues must invariably be definitely recognized. Strong muscles for carrying on the work required of these blood-making organs are of far more importance than strength of the external muscles. For this reason when the system is toned up by any means a beneficial change in the alimentary functions and excretions will always be noted.
During a careful study extending over at least a quarter of a century of all health-building methods, I have acquainted myself with numerous theories and remedies which have been applied in accelerating alimentary activity. I am, in this chapter, presenting a new system or combination of means for strengthening and stimulating the alimentary functions which experience has proved to be of extraordinary value. This method has the advantage of directly affecting the organs involved, and results can be obtained speedily in virtually every instance.
WHY IS DRINKING HOT WATER GOOD FOR YOU?
This system of alimentary stimulation can be roughly described as a combination of hot-water-drinking and a nerve-center-stimulating process. The best time for giving this method a thorough trial is immediately upon arising in the morning. It should not be attempted at any other time of the day, for it is especially important that the stomach should be free of any recently ingested food.
All that is required to carry out this treatment is one or two quarts of boiling water, a minute quantity of salt, and a cup that will hold from one-half a pint to one pint of water. The second phase of this treatment is exercise and comprises the series of movements illustrated in this work. Wherever possible these nerve-stimulating exercises should be taken out-of-doors or before an open window. If the weather is cold, you should wear enough clothing to maintain a satisfactory degree of warmth; if the weather is warm, the less clothing worn the better. If the skin is especially inactive, or if it is suffering from a disease in which the eliminating process ordinarily accelerated by a Russian or Turkish bath is of value, then wear heavy warm clothing while taking the treatment. A thick sweater is advantageous under such circumstances. A profuse perspiration will result, indicating a purifying process that is of special value when the system needs to be cleansed of the accumulated poisons which are the direct cause of nearly all diseases.
If you are capable of drinking about two quarts of water during the exercise then each cup you drink should contain nearly a pint, but if you cannot drink over one quart each cup should contain not more than half a pint.
Before beginning the nerve-stimulating exercise drink the first cup of hot water, putting a pinch of salt in the bottom of the cup to take away the flat taste of the hot water. Pour the cup half full of boiling water and then add cold water until it is sufficiently cool to be rapidly swallowed. Drink the water as hot as possible without sipping it. Now take exercises 11, 12 and 14. Continue each one of these movements until a feeling of fatigue is noticed, after which you are ready for a second cup of hot water.
Don't get in a hurry. Don't do any movement to exhaustion, though a feeling of local fatigue in the particular muscles concerned is a desirable goal. This feeling, however, should entirely disappear after a rest of one or two minutes.
After the second cup of hot water you are ready for exercises 13, 7 and 8, whereupon you may take a third cup of hot water. You may then take exercises 15, 16 and 9, followed by another cup of hot water, and then exercises 17, 6 and 10, and so on. While this is suggested as a general plan, it is not imperative that this order be followed strictly, for your individual requirements might be better suited by minor variations; for instance, by two or four exercises between the intervals of hot-water-drinking.
If you find your capacity is unequal to the quantity of hot water suggested, then simply take as much as you can without inconvenience or discomfort. Each day, however, while following this method you will find your hot-water-drinking capacity will increase, though as a rule, a person of average weight and height can take from one to two quarts without serious inconvenience. The hot-water- drinking together with the exercise will naturally very greatly increase the pulse, and where there is heart disease or any weakness of the heart this treatment must be taken with unusual care. In virtually every case this method will materially increase the strength of a weak heart, though there is naturally the possibility of strain, and the treatment should be adapted to your strength in the beginning and very gradually increased week by week.
Temporary attacks of constipation, where severe enough to need attention, can usually be quickly remedied by this hot-water- drinking, nerve-stimulating method. Usually, if there is need for a movement of the bowels an instinctive and compelling desire will appear while taking the treatment or very shortly thereafter. If, however, you feel there is a necessity for such a movement and it does not appear, you can rest assured that the treatment has brought about sufficient benefit to excite the activity of the organs involved and that the desire will come later. In some very obstinate cases of constipation, or in serious temporary attacks of this difficulty, where a movement of the bowels is desired quickly, from one-quarter to one-half a level teaspoonful of salt can be added to each cup of hot water. This will in nearly all cases insure a speedy and satisfactory bowel movement. This, however, is not advised unless absolutely necessary.
It is well to point out that this treatment in its extreme form can hardly be used with complete satisfaction by those who are below average strength. In any case, however, the drinking of a small amount of hot water can be attempted and the exercises illustrated can be used, if one is careful not to make his efforts too severe. The hot-water- drinking process as well as the exercise must, however, be adapted to the requirements of each individual, and it may be well in most cases to experiment two or three times before following all of these suggestions in detail.
Where one is lacking in vital strength a beginning can be made by taking only two cups of hot water, using exercises 7, 8 and 9, which can be taken in a reclining position.
One may continue in this way for a week or two, after which a third cup of hot water might be added. In this way one can gradually increase the amount of water consumed and the vigor and the amount of the exercise taken.
Where there is a tendency toward rheumatism, gout, neuritis, neuralgia, or where there are any other symptoms indicating the accumulation of poisons or impurities in the system, it is advisable to use distilled water, though if this cannot be secured ordinary boiled water will be satisfactory. At least be sure to boil your water before using if it is heavily charged with mineral matter, since boiling tends to precipitate lime salts. In other words, hard water is not desirable in such cases.
The hot-water-drinking regimen in itself has a decidedly beneficial effect upon the stomach and intestines. But much better results, especially in the case of constipation, are secured when the special nerve-stimulating exercises recommended are taken in connection with it. By this combination we obtain results that cannot be secured in any other way. In fact, stiffness, soreness and rheumatic "twinges" in various parts of the body are often removed with astounding rapidity through the help of this particular treatment. The cleansing and eliminating functions are stimulated to an extraordinary extent by combining these two blood-purifying forces: hot-water-drinking and the stimulation of the nerve centers.
This regimen is also a splendid means of increasing the weight in cases of defective assimilation. It seems to tone up the entire vital and functional system, in addition to directly influencing the digestive organs. The hot water alone tends to cleanse and empty very thoroughly the stomach and intestines, also to stimulate the secretion of the digestive juices. Those who are below normal weight chiefly because of poor assimilative powers are especially advised to give this method a thorough trial for a period of a few weeks.
DIGESTION AND COMPLEXION
Again, if your complexion is sallow, dull, and "muddy," a remarkable improvement will speedily appear as a result of this treatment. In a recent case I observed a surprising change at the end of one week in a complexion that had been sallow and lifeless. The complexion in this instance not only assumed an improved color, but the tissues of the face were also filled out considerably, and when improvement is thus manifested on the surface you can well realize that the internal changes are even more pronounced.
The devitalized condition of the various glands and structures in this part of the body is gradually remedied by the improvement in the circulation that comes with what might be termed a stimulating supply of liquids, and the same good result is accomplished, so far as the general circulation is concerned, in the welfare of the body as a whole. Those suffering from high blood pressure will find this treatment of unusual value, though great care should, of course, be taken to avoid any movements that are in any way exhausting or violent. When the blood is in a thick or viscous condition the use of the hot water adds to its fluidity, and it can then be forced more easily through the capillaries, thus greatly lessening the blood pressure. It is well known that a low blood pressure is conducive to endurance and to general health. And when these exercises especially advised for stimulating the nerve centers and for strengthening and vitalizing the spine are combined with a liberal use of hot water, the blood is forced through all the tissues, with the general effect of thoroughly cleansing all parts, in addition to immediately cleansing the digestive system.
CHOICE OF ATHLETES
It is customary among athletes to use massage, or what is commonly called a "rub down," following their exercise. The purpose of this is to increase the circulation and thereby to carry out of the muscles the fatigue-poisons that have accumulated therein during the exercise. Now if a large amount of hot water is used in connection with movements such as we are illustrating, this purpose will be even more thoroughly accomplished during the exercise itself, as the muscular and other tissues are virtually flushed out owing to the more fluid character of the blood and its more ready and perfect circulation through all parts. One who feels stiff from severe exercise, or finds his tissues sore for other reasons, should be able to overcome this stiffness and gain a sense of refreshment through this method.
Referring to the subject of elimination in the case of fatigue, I might say that some students have ascribed the feeling of fatigue at the end of the day's work to an accumulation of deposits within the walls of the arteries and veins, which deposits are ordinarily carried off during sleep. If this theory is true I can think of no simpler or more satisfactory method of removing this waste matter in the blood-vessels than this system of flushing them. For producing immediate results of any kind there is no other method so far as I know which is so effective as this if one has sufficient strength properly to use it. I have known cases in which a headache has been cured in a few minutes by sprinting or other violent exercise, and cases in which neuralgic toothaches and other pains have yielded to vigorous exercise continued for a prolonged period. I have also known the same relief to be obtained by drinking a liberal quantity of hot water, but in all such instances results would be more quickly and certainly secured through a combination of these stimulating forces.
To repeat for clearness and emphasis, the method outlined consists of the following:
A combination of hot-water-drinking and specially adapted movements for stimulating the nerve centers.
Half a pint to a pint of hot water...as hot as can be drunk...to be taken on beginning the treatment immediately on arising in the morning. An additional quantity of hot water to be taken each five to ten minutes thereafter until from one to two quarts have been consumed.
A large amount of clothing to be worn if profuse perspiration is desired, though where an increase of weight is of advantage and no actual disease exists in the system, no more clothing should be worn than is necessary to maintain warmth.
When a bowel movement is definitely needed, a complete and perfectly satisfactory evacuation is often brought about while taking this treatment. The cleansing process, however, will result in a clearer brain and an improved physical as well as mental capacity, whether or not the bowels act immediately, and one can nearly always depend upon a satisfactory movement later.
When there is suffering from temporary attacks of constipation and immediate relief is desired, add from one-quarter to one-half a level teaspoonful of salt to each cup of hot water. Speedy results can be depended upon in virtually every case. Another method of accomplishing the same thing is to continue the hot-water-drinking even beyond the two quarts suggested, adding no more than a small pinch of salt to each cup, as previously suggested. No harm will come from this excessive water-drinking if one is possessed of a normal amount of vigor.
If one is athletic, jumping one to two hundred times, as when jumping a rope, just previous to moving the bowels is often of value in inducing a natural desire that in nearly all cases brings satisfactory results. Where it is difficult to take the amount of water prescribed, take as much as you conveniently can, gradually increasing the quantity each day.
This hot-water-drinking regimen is not necessarily recommended as a permanent measure to be continued every day for an indefinite period. When you feel that your physical status is satisfactory in every way, you can drop the method for a few days, after which it can be resumed as desired, though it would be of advantage to continue taking the exercises each day, and if even one or two glasses of hot water are taken beneficial results would accrue.
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