I have now to consider briefly a most distressing disease, one that perhaps was never cured by the power of doses, and that most happily illustrates the structural changes in the cure of disease.
Asthmatic distress is caused by congestion of the terminals of the bronchial tubes, by which entrance of air into the cells is made difficult, even in some cases to the point of suffocation. This condition as a disease may be called bronchial catarrh, as in most cases there is such a condition of the larger tubes as to cause the habitual raising of a discharge. As to the disease itself, you have only to recall what has been said about nasal catarrh in order to understand its origin and development. It would be as trivial a disease were it not for the fact that those smaller and ultimate tubes, because of flabby walls and weak vessels, become congested, with resulting narrowing of the air-ways of life.
For this most distressing disease local treatments are as futile and void of intelligence as the physiology and anatomy involved in cause and cure of other local diseases. Is it not a great thing that those too narrow ways of life may be reached through a fast which shall so charge the brain with power that the flabby walls will be condensed; that most cases of asthma may be cured, with marked relief for every case? This is as certain as a result, as that rest restores strength. With the toning of the brain through rest, a catarrh of the bronchial tubes is certainly curable in most cases. With a large opportunity to know I am able to say this with intense conviction.
Only a few months ago, just before the break of day, a freight train took a side track; in a few moments, with nearly a mile-a-minute speed, a limited passenger train took the same track, and in the time of a second five men were hurled into eternity. Why? How? The conductor and his brakeman were in such heavy sleep when the switch was opened that they were not awakened to close it.
Why? How? There was the torpor of indigestion holding the tired brains of those two men in its fatal grasp; their stomachs were full of food when they were already tired out by their long trip that was nearly at its close, and for them those untimely meals were the last.
Of all men who ought to work with empty stomachs for the sake of the best possible reach of the memory it is the railroad engineer and conductor; so also every man who is in any way responsible for the safety of the trains. If we had the history of all the derailments, collisions, of cars with human freight converted into funeral pyres, a frightful percentage of them could be traced to where "some one had blundered" because of the torpor from handling meals when the brain was compelled to higher services. Digestive, indigestive torpor is also torpor of the sense of responsibility.
In the city where I live is the point between two divisions of the Erie Railroad, each somewhat more than a hundred miles long. Before I began the agitation of the No-breakfast Plan all trainmen felt that filling their stomachs was the last duty before entering upon their taxing trips, and tired wives would have to get up at all times of the night to prepare general meals. In this city a mighty revolution for the good of wives, for the good of men themselves, and for the safety of the trains and the hapless passengers has been going on for some years.
In former times when these men came home from their rounds generally tired out, and with a feeling that in proportion to the sense of exhaustion was the need to eat, general meals had to be prepared at any time of night. All this is changed in a large measure. Trainmen have been finding out that the less food in their stomachs they take into bed with them and on to their trains, the better it is for them in every way.
More and more they are getting into the way of having a general meal when they can eat it with leisure and leisurely digest it; and I predict that a time will come when all who are in any way responsible for the running of trains will have to know how to take care of their stomachs, in order that they shall attain and maintain the highest efficiency for services where human lives so much depend on the best there is in memory, reason, and judgment. This will be a part of their preparatory education.
The "block system" has wonderfully added to the safety of the trains, but there should be a block system added to the stomachs of the dispatchers and all whose duties are so grave as the handling of human freight. There is no division so long that it cannot be doubled with less fatigue and better mental condition if the stomach be not on duty at the same time. In this I speak with the authority that comes from the study of the experiences of trainmen during many years: with one accord they speak of their trips as taken with clearer heads and stronger muscles than when large meals were thought a necessity while on duty.
With an empty stomach it takes a very long time to get into such torpor—drowsiness—as compels the after-dinner sleep. That engineer who once told me of such sleepiness as made him nod while on duty was not suffering from either lack of sleep or overwork of his body: it was simply a case of the torpor of indigestion, and this was when there was no block system to lessen the danger of such services.
There is a great deal of imperfection in what man does for man that comes from the indifference arising from the torpor of untimely food, and far more than there is any conception in what man does against man from the destruction of power in this way.
There is now one of the Erie conductors who five years ago was losing at least half of his time from asthma; there is another who was equally disabled from sudden head symptoms that would immediately disable. These men have lost no trips since they began to run their stomachs with the same care as their trains. And there is an engineer whose trips to the physician and to the drug-store for many years were as frequent as those to his engine. There has since been a half dozen years of wiser care of his stomach, and his wife says that the change for the better in his disposition is beyond description. These men have rendered far more service, and who cannot see that these services have been of far higher character for the company, and that they have been infinitely better husbands, fathers, and citizens?
The following case will interest trainmen: D. S., a brakeman, reached the burden of two hundred and forty-six pounds, with resulting breathlessness and other ailings that taxed all his resources to perform his duties. He was induced to cut down his daily food as the only means for relief, and to add to his strength. It took him a long time to master the fact that his strength was not kept up by food, but the gradual loss of weight with the general improvement made this more and more evident. He finally reached a time when he was able to make his round trip of one hundred and ninety-six miles without a morsel of food the while, and with much less fatigue than when there was a midnight meal from a lunch-pail. Within a year the weight has gone down to one hundred and eighty-eight pounds. To my professional eye there is beauty in the bright eyes, in the condensed, smooth face, in the body enfolded with clothes that flap in the breeze like the sails of a ship. No accident will happen to precious human freight through his brain kept free from digestive torpor while on duty.
Ever since my book has been out I have been in more or less trouble with cases that badly needed my personal care, and not few in which death was inevitable. For instance, there is a woman in Illinois who has been ailing for years, and in spite of the No-breakfast Plan has had to take to her bed with acute aversion to food. Medical art had utterly failed before she changed her dietary methods.
Her dietary views are known, and so she is held in severe censure because the sick stomach is not compelled to a futile service; and though I am informed of an enlargement in the region of the bowels that has been perceptible and tender for years, her death will be considered suicidal from starvation.
A Warrensburg, Ill., editor began his fast by throwing up his food and continued it to the end; yet because he had talked about a fast it was supposed to be a case of suicide of the stupid kind; and though the post-mortem revealed a diseased gall-bladder, the doctors who made it did nothing to lessen the suicidal impression, and the death from "starvation" appeared under large headlines in the public prints.
When men as learned, able, and eminent as Dr. Shrady, of New York, go into print to inform the public that people may starve to death in ten days, and when such men as Prof. Wood, of the University of Pennsylvania, do not see any starvation in the wasting pounds of acute disease, the care of acute sickness as Nature would have it is a grave matter for the physician.
In five fatal cases under my care in which there was no possibility of feeding, there was such agitation over the question of starvation as would have subjected me to violence had my city been nearer the equator. In all these cases I was compelled to have a post-mortem to silence heathen raging. In one case in which a young man had died after weeks of inability to take food, even one of my medical brethren carried the conviction with him for years, and without seeking to inform himself, that there was a death from starvation. In this case there were spells of hunger in a fury, when meals would be taken, only to be soon thrown up, and he finally took to his bed to starve slowly to death. There was mind enough left to make a will, though the body had lost apparently more than half the normal weight; the post-mortem revealed a stomach seared, thickened, and not more than a third of the normal size.
The physiology of fasting in time of sickness is so entirely new to the medical world that every death that occurs with those who practise it is certain to be attributed to starving.
Early in this year (1900) a woman of seventy, in high circles, died from an obscure stomach trouble. For thirty-eight days there averaged nearly a half-dozen spells of vomiting; and yet it was generally believed that it was clearly a case of death from starvation, believed by those whose power to receive impressions is far stronger than their power to consider.
Fasting, because it is Nature's plan, will win the victory in all cases in which victory is possible; and yet wherever it is adopted, to become known about, there will be the same confusion of tongues as would be were violent hands laid upon gods of wood and stone in heathen temples. "Starved to death" is the verdict.
Fasting during sickness, because of the vast utility and from the impetus arising from the cases in Philadelphia, is bound to spread as by contagion; but when death occurs, all friends involved will be charged as abettors of homicide. To be fair to the opposition, and to let all readers know what chances for public censure will be theirs, whenever they see fit to let their friends recover on Nature's plan or die natural deaths, the following case is given. I quote from the Philadelphia Press of May 7, 1900:
"In the death notices of April 26 appeared the name of Mrs. Hermina Meyer, fifty years of age, of 1233 North Howard Street. At the time this short and simple record of the passing away of an ordinary, obscure woman attracted no more attention than the hundred similar names that constituted the necrological annals of April 25. But there is a startling aftermath that at once gives significance to this brief record, and rude and bitter awakening to the followers of the so-called 'Starvation Cult,' that has gained a considerable acceptance in the northeast section of the city.
"Mrs. Meyer was a believer in the fasting treatment. She was apparently a victim of this strange and heretical therapeutical faith. Kensington is buzzing with gossip concerning the deplorable death of the unfortunate woman. C. F. Meyer, the husband of the victim, accepts the death of his wife as due to heart-failure, and apparently is not disposed to complain.
"Mr. Meyer talked freely with a Press reporter yesterday concerning the sickness and death of his wife. He said that Mrs. Meyer had been ill for about a year, her malady having been diagnosed as chronic rheumatism. She had been treated by the family physician for this disease, but without relief. In despair she turned to the fasting treatment.
"From time to time she had read of the remarkable cures claimed to have been effected by complete abstention from food. Through a friend she met and talked with the family of Leonard Thress, of 2618 Frankford Avenue, whose case is proclaimed as one of the most remarkable that had been successfully treated by the fasting system. Thress was widely advertised as a victim of dropsy, who, after a complete fast of more than a month, was restored to sound health.
"Mrs. Meyer believed, and sent for Henry Ritter, the chief advocate and adviser of the fasting cult in Philadelphia. His belief in the weird treatment of disease he has adopted is seemingly unshakable.
"Ritter has superintended many cases of starvation treatment, wherein, according to his own statements, the patients have totally abstained from actual food for periods of from four to six weeks. He claims that in every case the afflicted person has completely recovered health—with the single exception of Mrs. Meyer.
"In response to her request, Ritter called upon Mrs. Meyer. She at once began her fast. Nothing was allowed to pass her lips but a small quantity of tonicum and some physiological salts, dissolved in water. Of each of these she was permitted to take sparingly every day. It is claimed by Ritter, a fact well-known to physiologists, that there is no actual food in either of these thin condiments. They are simply stimulants. These liquids, according to Ritter, are the only things given to any of the patients whose cases he has supervised.
"For twenty-five days, so says Mr. Meyer, his wife fasted and improved. At the expiration of that time, he says, her health was very much improved. She was able to walk about her room, a thing she had not been able to do for many weeks. Then there was a sudden and violent change for the worse. The patient was seized with convulsive vomiting.
"For sixteen days she suffered the excruciating pains of these convulsions. But, under Ritter's advice, Mrs. Meyer continued her fast. Till the thirty-fifth day she tasted no food. The vomiting continued unabated. On the thirty-sixth day she felt a craving for food for the first time since her long fast began. She was given oatmeal porridge. But the vomiting continued unabated.
"She grew weaker and weaker. From one hundred and fifty pounds weight she was reduced to a gaunt skeleton. When, upon the resumption of a food diet, the vomiting did not cease, the family was alarmed. The family physician was sent for in dismay. But he could do nothing. Flesh-building foods were prescribed, but they accomplished nothing. The vomiting continued, and three weeks following the breaking of the fast Mrs. Meyer died.
"The death was put down to a depleted blood-supply, or heart-failure. Ritter claimed that this unexpected turn could not have been anticipated, as the fact that the patient was subject to heart disease was previously unknown.
"He had treated her for rheumatism, and the cure was apparently in sight when heart-failure carried the patient to her grave.
"These facts were detailed by Mr. Meyer. He added that Mr. Ritter was not a physician; that he charged no fees; that he did not claim to prescribe remedies, but only advised.
"So ends the case of Mrs. Hermina Meyers, first victim of the starvation cult."
The following is from the Press of May 8:
"The death of Mrs. Hermina Meyer, after undergoing the fasting treatment for thirty-five days, has not at all shaken the faith of the adviser responsible for the ordeal, Henry Ritter, who claims to have restored tireless persons to health. He affirmed that the ravages of chronic disease had progressed too far for his treatment to conquer them, and that his attendance was advised by the family physician.
"Against this comforting declaration, however, stands the fact that the certificate of death, signed by Dr. James Chestnut, Jr., gave as the cause prolonged abstinence from food; in other words, starvation. Dr. Chestnut also has stated that the case was taken out of his hands, and Ritter installed as medical adviser, by what was virtually a dismissal. Dr. Chestnut was summoned again when the condition of the woman became critical, after twenty-five days of fasting, but she became rapidly weaker with violent convulsions and vomiting, and was beyond medical aid.
"She had never been treated for cancer of the stomach, which Ritter says he thinks she may have had, although she had a valvular affection of the heart which had existed for some time. But the fact that the cause of her death was officially attested by the family physician as due to her long fast contradicts flatly the position taken by the self-constituted healer, who made the following statement last night:
"'I have seen all the members of Mrs. Meyer's family to-day, and they are entirely satisfied that my treatment was in no way responsible for her death. I was called in at their urgent request, as their own relatives were numbered among the cures to the credit of the fasting treatment, as well as Mr. Thress. I accept no money for my work; they knew it was a labor of love, and the family physician, Dr. Chestnut, agreed with them as to the advisability of this system which they had seen tested.
"'Mrs. Meyer improved rapidly for a time, her chronic rheumatism causing her less trouble than in years, after the first three weeks of fasting. She had been treated previously for catarrh of the stomach, and it is probable that a cancer afflicted her. I am using no new system. The method has been used with very notable success by Dr. Edward H. Dewey, of Meadville, whose reputation and standing are distinguished. This is the first case I have lost out of twelve patients who had been given up as hopeless by regular physicians. It is Nature's cure, nothing more; but it was applied too late in the case of Mrs. Meyer.'
"Dr. Chestnut would not allow himself to be quoted because of the rigid rules of medical ethics. It may be stated, however, in addition to what has been said, that he does not wish to be considered as having encouraged the experiment, and that the death certificate defined his view of the responsibility."
A verdict on the part of the doctor without a post-mortem.
Against the doctor is the following, from the daughter, Miss Kate Meyer. I quote from an article in the North American of May 8, 1900:
"Mrs. Hermina Meyer, devotee of an odd cult, that regards starvation as a sure cure for all bodily ills, fasted for nearly forty days because she was suffering from rheumatism.
"The rheumatism disappeared.
"But after twenty-five days of total abstinence from food she sickened. Violent nausea came to her. She died.
"Nevertheless, Miss Kate Meyer, daughter of the dead woman, says:
"'My mother did not die because she fasted. The fasting did her good. When she began it she had been ill with rheumatism for more than a year. She could hardly walk. Her left arm was powerless. She could not lift it from her side. After two weeks of fasting she was active. She could walk. The power came back to her arm. She suffered little pain. She looked well. Then came the attacks of nausea.
"'But Dr. Chestnut, who is our family physician, was attending mother all the time. He called once a week. He said himself that the fast cure seemed to be doing mother good. When she got nausea he did not lay it to her fasting. He said it was heart trouble. That's what mother died of. Dr. Chestnut said so.
"'Do you remember the case of Leonard Thress? He cured himself of dropsy by fasting. Mother heard of it. She was introduced to Mr. Thress. He told her that all he knew of the fast cure he had learned from Henry Ritter. Mother sent and asked Mr. Ritter about the cure. Then she began it. Mr. Ritter never charged mother for anything. Dr. Chestnut consented that mother should try the Ritter cure.'
"Mrs. Meyer was the wife of Charles F. Meyer, of 1233 North Howard Street. Meyer, like his daughter, has only friendliness for Ritter, and also favors the fast cure. Mrs. Meyer, past middle age, had been sorely tried by her ailment. For more than a year Dr. Chestnut attended her, but her condition did not improve. Prescription after prescription was tested, only to fail.
"'There is little hope for me,' said the woman to her daughter. 'I'm tired of taking medicines. They do me no good.'
"She became more melancholy as the days passed. She regarded her case as hopeless. Dr. Chestnut acknowledged defeat. He had only a change of climate—a long stay in Colorado—to recommend. A very domestic woman was Mrs. Meyer. She looked with horror upon a journey. She said she would remain at home and die.
"But one day last March there gathered at a banquet in the home of Leonard Thress about a dozen persons, very happy, very healthy (or believing themselves to be so), all members of the 'starvation cure' cult.
"Each had to tell the story of a long fast that brought a remarkable cure. Newspapers gave publicity to the dinner of the little band with the odd faith in fasting. Mrs. Meyer heard of it. Here was a chance—a gleam of hope! She came to know Leonard Thress, and, through him, Henry Ritter, the apostle of the fast cure. He told her of remarkable recoveries. She caught his enthusiasm.
"But, according to Mr. Meyer, the young man was careful first that the family physician should consent. He never hinted at compensation for his services; never got it. Aside from advising total abstinence from food, he supplied small quantities of tonicum and salts dissolved in water. These contained no food matter; they were merely stimulative.
"In two weeks hope was strong with Mrs. Meyer; with all the family. Certainly, she was improving. She could walk; her arm that had been stiff and painful moved with ease—hurt no more. She still suffered occasional twinges, and decided to continue her self-imposed starvation until every rheumatic germ in her body was eradicated.
"She regarded herself as almost cured, when, after twenty-five days, she was attacked with nausea. She was very ill. It lasted sixteen days. After the first few days of fasting all desire for food had vanished. But on the thirty-sixth day she was hungry.
"Oatmeal porridge was given her sparingly. The nausea, however, did not cease. She began to grow alarmingly emaciated. She had weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. Her weight had fallen to one hundred.
"The family physician prescribed light food, but her stomach repulsed it. She grew very weak.
"On April 26 she died. Dr. Chestnut unhesitatingly issued a death certificate, ascribing her death to heart-failure. He also suspected a cancer of the stomach, but was not sure.
"Mrs. Herman Reinhardt, a cousin of the deceased woman, is firmly convinced that fasting had nothing to do with her death.
"'For more than fifteen years Mrs. Meyer suffered from some acute stomach trouble,' Mrs. Reinhardt said yesterday, 'and it is my belief that it caused her death. Her general health had been greatly benefited by abstaining from all food, but the disorder from which she suffered most could not be cured. My husband fasted for twenty-five days and was completely cured of stomach trouble, and there were no ill effects in his case.'"
The impression of this death and of these fasts upon the minds of the medical profession was perhaps fairly summed up by the eminent Horatio C. Wood, M. D., LL. D., Clinical Professor of Nervous Diseases in the University of Pennsylvania. He disregarded the legal phase of the question, the question of the legality of a layman dealing out words of cheer and comfort in cases in which the medical profession had retired in total defeat. The question had been seriously raised as to whether Mr. Ritter had not committed a crime against the laws of Pennsylvania, and for what? For simply advising these people to stop all eating until there would come a natural desire for food!
Professor Wood thus gave utterance in the Press of May 10:
"'These people are falsifying,' he said, 'There have been liars, you know, and they are not all dead. I don't believe for an instant such stories as fasting totally for forty or fifty days and keeping up energy and activity. It is contrary to common sense as well as to all we know about the human body. I don't know the object of deception, but somebody must be making money out of it, or having a craving for notoriety. It is preposterous. I understand that one of these fasters walked ten miles a day, after doing altogether without nourishment for a month or so. If these persons did what they claim to have undergone, more than one death would have been charged against the treatment, you may be sure.
"'You will remember that the professional forty-day fasters, Tanner and Suci, were reduced to mere skin and bone, were almost helpless, carefully husbanded every bit of their vital energy, and took no exercise. They were watched and studied scientifically. And here is a woman, weighing only one hundred pounds when she started fasting, claims she began to eat after thirty-eight days of starvation, and had more energy and took more exercise than in years. It is all amazingly absurd, whatever the motive may be.'"
Tanner and Suci, "skin and bones?" Cowen weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds when he began his forty-two day fast, and lost only thirty pounds. My case of acute rheumatism revealed a loss of only forty pounds after a forty-six days' fast; and the woman of fifty-seven who began eating on the forty-third day was so well padded with muscle and fat as not to reveal the slightest suggestion of starvation as she sat down to the first meal. "Skin and bones?" This is a matter for months, and not for days.
"Falsifiers, these fasters?" Science settles important questions by investigation, not by epithet.
As I write the closing pages of this book, the most taxing case of fasting that ever came under my care has ended in hunger, and I insert it that all may know what tribulations will be theirs if they have any part in letting their sick get well or die in that peace God and Nature clearly design for all.
A man of large mould came to me, unknown, unbidden, from a distant city on the seventeenth day of his fast. His appetite had been abolished by a severe throat and bronchial attack, both of which had been relieved before reaching me. Well posted in the theory of fasting, he came with the declared intention of fasting until hunger or death would come.
For two or three weeks he was able to be about the city with his nearly two hundred pounds of flesh; but there was an unknown, unknowable disease of the bowels and stomach in slow development. There were a dryness of the mouth and such aversion to food as to forbid all eating, and he was deaf to my suggestion that he should at least taste some of the liquid foods from time to time, to save me in the eyes of his friends from a verdict of homicide, were we to fail to win a victory. After more than fifty days without even a taste of food nausea and vomiting were added to his woes, and when his friends became aware of the many days without food no words I could utter saved me from the severest condemnation. The anxiety that involved the sick bed only depressed the patient, and when another physician had to be called to relieve the pressure the last hope with him nearly departed.
The adviser was a man of high character and of unusual general and professional acquirements. Behind him was the entire medical profession and all its literature: behind me were only Nature, many-voiced—and the patient. With us there was no lack of mutual respect, except in matters of faith and practice; but he no more tolerated my "crankiness," lunacy—perhaps imbecility—in withholding food from the sick than I his paganism in enforcing it. For the sake of the agony of friends my noble patient accepted one severe dose of medicine and one ration of predigested food. The instant response of the digestive powers was, "We have stopped business down here for repairs: when we are ready we will let you know."
Next a ration of food was sent into the sick bowels, only to cause hours of pain. The enemy having been expelled with disaster from all points of attack, there simply had to be a waiting on Nature, and in one day after the last vomiting spell there was a natural call for food—and this on the sixtieth day of the fast!
Had this man died—such was his prominence—I should have been paraded as a criminal of the stupid kind in the entire press of America, except in the papers of my own city. For this man of sixty-five, who with marvellous faith in Nature patiently waited upon her time, there promises to be many years of the days of his youth restored to him. As for me, with authorized medicine driven from the field, I see only new life unfolding in him daily, and my reward is exceeding.
Men and brethren of the medical profession: This man read his favorite Sun during every one of those sixty long days, and not one day was there revealed a hint of mental loss in clearness of apprehension. He lived because he knew that starving to death was his remotest danger; he lived also because he was made to see evidences that a cure was evolving in many ways. There was at no time apprehension, except when he felt unable to resist his friends with a No in thunder tones when it was proposed to torture him with drugs and foods.
Brethren, are you going into print to denounce the physiology or the practicality of this old method in Nature, this new method in humanity, to the sick and afflicted? Not one of you can advance arguments that will convince those who reason.
To what good end are you now enforcing your predigested foods? Are they relished better than other foods? Can they be taken with less aversion in cases of nausea and vomiting? Do they really nourish the brain so as to add clearness and strength to the mind? Do they ever prevent the uncovering of bones that makes the ways of acute sickness? If food actually can be so digested out of the body as to be ready for instant absorption, we should be able to abolish our kitchens, and at once enter upon that golden age in which there would be no dyspepsia hydraheaded; no disease of any kind, not even drunkenness, and where death would be only as the last flicker of the burned-up candle.
In this case, as in all other cases, the desire for water was abolished before hunger became marked. In this connection I will suggest to the reader that thirst is a morbid condition to be avoided as far as possible; that water is its only need, and no mortal ever needs a drop for health's sake except when thirsty. Making water-tanks of human stomachs is without the shade of physiological reason, and the alleged results for good are not based on a shade of scientific evidence: these are based wholly in the minds of the credulous enthusiasts who prescribe them. Taking large quantities of water without thirst only entails added work upon the kidneys, and thus it becomes a factor in the development of Bright's disease and other forms where the tendency exists. The actual need of water is always made clear in every case; the need always disappears before hunger can become possible.
As to the use of water on the body, this physiology has to be taken into account. The skin is covered with scales that are constantly dropping off as they mature, each to uncover a bright, clean one. As the skin is not an absorbent membrane, and as old scales are constantly dropping off, the need of frequent baths is more a need to satisfy the personal sense of cleanliness than a physiological need. These scales should not be either soaked off or brushed off in a wholesale way; the oil in the skin is a protection against weather-changes, and is also a necessity to its functional integrity, and therefore should not be dissolved and washed off by soaps that are strongly alkaline.
The body itself is very sensitive to contact with water below the natural temperature of the skin. The plunge bath is specially depressing to every human energy, and should never be indulged by the debilitated. The daily bathings of nursing children are cruel and life-depressing. Their little bodies are always clean in the physiological sense when their clothes are kept clean; hence once a week ought to satisfy all mothers.
The question of how often to bathe must be considered along these physiological lines. They whose employments soil their clothes and bodies spend the least time in cleansing their bodies; and yet in no medical work that treats of diseases and their causes is there to be found a hint that any special disease has its origin in uncleansed skin as a chronic condition. That will be a small-minded reader who draws conclusions from these statements that the author is not highly in favor of having bodies and clothes kept so habitually clean as not to be an offence to the finest fibred olfactory nerve at close range. In the use, then, of water on the body be physiologically sensible, and not the slaves of the bath-tub or "medicated" waters.
Lay readers, I draw my message to a close. I have addressed it to you because your minds are open and free. Draw near and listen while I talk rather than write. Let me look into your eyes, see the play on all the lines of expression, as I would were you in my consulting-room. Mine has reached your ears as a lone voice from the depths of some wilderness; I have tried so to speak with my pen that you could catch an echo as if from between the lines of every page.
You will not banish your medical adviser, for you still need his knowledge of the workings of disease, if you do not need the drugs you formerly believed necessary; but you will now be able in a more intelligent way to diminish the possibilities of the future need of him.
Since these wonderful fasts in Philadelphia others are occurring over the country from the contagion of example. Many are certain to be undertaken as a last resort where hope has departed; and death will come; and then there will be the confusion of tongues, as in the case of Mrs. Meyer. Her case has been the third one that I know of where the press has spread the news of death from starvation.
I have given you the case of Mrs. Meyer that you may know that no matter how hopeless any case may be considered, no matter how given up by venders of drugs, if a fast be advised and death come, death from starvation will be the general verdict. Hence on as fasts multiply, so will the press continue to make special note of all who chance to die because they had ceased to add distress to their bodies by foods that were only taken as the medicinal dose. All this you need to take into account in those cases you would advise where the medical faculty has retired in defeat.
Never in my entire professional life have I been so depressed by discordant voices as during this sixty-day fast just ended. All the air has been charged, darkened with frownings—even threats of what would happen in case of death; and as never before has this question come to me, "Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things?"
Again I must tell you that the No-breakfast Plan, the plan not to eat in time of health until there are a normal need and desire for food, that are only developed after several hours of morning labor, and not to eat at all during acute sickness, is the easiest of all means to maintain health, and to regain it when lost. In my message I have had the greatest good for the greatest number of the world's busy people, who have no time to indulge abnormal, artificial ways in the recovery and maintenance of health—ways that are a real tax on time and taxing in the means involved. Passing few are they of the world's workers who have the time for all this, and especially they who are the slaves of the kitchen.
Again I must suggest to you that the actual need of daily food as a matter to meet the actual daily need is a new question in practical physiology. It may be very much less than is supposed, a matter to be determined by the scales. There are none who can eat at all with relish who are not more governed by relish than the hunger sense, as to the amount of food eaten. The real amount of daily food needed may be so small that enough of nourishment can be extracted from almost any of the easiest available foods, the main question being one of slow eating, restful eating, and with the most thorough mastication. For those who have the leisure and tastes for study over what to eat there are the works of Haig, Hoy, Hensel, Sir Henry Thompson, and others, that may be read with both interest and profit.
And now I address my last words to the mothers of the land. For you the No-breakfast Plan means the highest possible health, the greatest possible relief from the slavery of toil. On no other plan are there such promises of relief and prevention of all your sex ailings. On this plan only can you become man's equal in the hours of leisure that are his by a feeling of divine right; you also should consider the possibilities of a day of eight or ten hours as needing the reduction all the more because of your weaker bodies.
The No-breakfast Plan means for your children the best possibilities for the conservation of all the higher instincts and powers that will tend to save them from the saloon, the prison, the electric chair. If the Garden of Eden was abolished because you enticed man to eat the wrong food, it is for you to restore a new race of Adams in all the ways of health, of such health as will make the entire earth a "Paradise regained."
Readers, lay and professional, let me reiterate in my parting words, words at white heat with conviction as to their soundness and utility. Enforced food is a danger always to be measured by the gravity of the local or general disease; a danger always to be measured also by the feebleness of old age—by feebleness no matter how caused.
This physiological righteousness will remain unquestioned, its practicality unsurpassed, while man remains on the earth to violate the laws of his Creator manifest in his own body. The penalties of disobedience are as certain as that every cause is followed by a definite effect. There are no remissions in the various antitoxins; there is no hope for you through hollow needles. Nature is exacting, but she is merciful. Obey her laws that your ways may be toward Paradise, and not away from it.
[Transcriber's Note: The following words were spelled/hyphenated inconsistently in the original text and have not been changed: over-eating, overeating; centre, center; Cowan, Cowen; Suci, Succi.
The following corrections have been made to the original text.
Page 64: insistance changed to insistence
Page 65: abandaned changed to abandoned — 'had been abandoned'
Page 67: opprobium changed to opprobrium
Page 74: constrast changed to contrast — 'sluggishness by contrast'
Page 122: satifsying changed to satisfying — 'about satisfying it'
Page 160: now changed to no — 'no matter'
Page 186: frieght changed to freight — 'human freight'
Page 191: wierd changed to weird — 'weird treatment']