The Relation of Alimentation and Disease
March 2, 1888
PREFACE. In offerino; to the Medical Profession some of the results of over thirty years' research into the true Causes of Disease, a few words concerning the beginning and progress of my life-work will not appear misplaced. In 184:9 I began the study of germ diseases. Those of plants first occupied my attention ; afterwards those in animals and in man. I had previously been engaged in the exact sciences of chemistry, botany, geology, zoology and mineralogy. In 1846 I was appointed assistant in the Chemical Laboratory of the New York State Geological Survey, and in 1849 I became Principal of the Laboratory. I had been a graduate of Albany Medical College, and in 1850 I entered upon the practice of medicine. I was immediately and forcibly struck by the almost entire want of medical knowledge in regard to the true Causes of Disease, and by the consequent uncertainty that must and did exist as to the means of combating and curing pathological states. This uncertainty hampered me at each step of my practice. The art of Therapeutics was a chaos whose sole order consisted in dealing with established pathological conditions as though they were the disease itself, rather than what they actually were, viz. : consequences based upon antecedent and obscure states arising from an unknown Cause. In Consumption, for example, this want of thorough and basic knowledge conduced to our treating certain abnormal states as inflammatory, when they were in reality paralytic ones, as I shall demonstrate in subsequent pages.
The grim list of so-called " incurable diseases," and their steadily increasing death rates, riveted my attention and fascinated my thought. I. attained an entire conviction that they must be curable ; that since abnormal conditions could be established in previously healthy organisms, their causation must be discoverable, and that the mind of man must be endowed with sufiicient power to trace the interlinked sequences of disease back to their primary source. I determined to accomphsh this discovery, if possible, before my exit from this world. I started in without theories, without prejudices. I had no beaten rut to confine me. I resolved to collect and sift actual facts : to the ultimate testimony of these alone I looked for a solution of the riddle. Being a thorough microscopist and chemist, I began to make most searching examinations of every element of the human body — in health and in disease, — both microscopically and chemically. I made detailed drawings of every form met with, noting in connection with each drawing all of the conditions, states and symptoms found present in each. This work comprised microscopic examinations and drawings of blood; passages from bowels ; deposits in urine ; condition of and germs found in epithelium and mucus and mucous tissues ; sweat ; secretions from glands and follicles of the eye and other organs ; the contents of the hair and fat foUicles, and the condition of the ceruminous secretions. All this material was carefully filed away until enough should be accumulated in each disease to furnish its own history, and begin to throw some rays of light upon the dark picture. In connection with this microscopic investigation I analyzed closely all parts of the human body, and also all the foods which were in constant use. This labor was persevered in untH 1854, seemingly without resulting in much that was of real utility in handling disease with satisfaction to myself. These first five years of my medical experience were very laborious, anxious and painful ones to me, for I had started in to discover the primary Causes of pathological conditions in the human subject as revealed by complete evidence, and nothing less could satisfy my unalterable conviction. In 1854 the idea came to me, in one of my solitary hours, to try the effects of living exclusively upon one food at a time. This experiment I began upon myself alone at first. Fortunately, in our works on Physiology, beans are placed at the head of the list of foods as regards their nutrient qualities. On this account I opened this Hue of experiments with baked beans. I had not lived upon this food over three days before light began to break. I became very flatulent and constipated, head dizzy, ears ringing, limbs prickly, and was wholly unfitted for mental work. The microscopic examination of passages showed that the bean food did not digest ; that it fermented and filled the digestive organs with yeast, carbon dioxide, alcohol and acetic acid ; that the sacs of legumen containing starch granules were insoluble in the digestive fluids, and consequently these fluids could not reach the starch until it had fermented, and liberated sufficient gas to explode the sacs. By this time the starch was too far changed into gas, alcohol and vinegar, to afford much nourishment to the body. From this date until September, 1856, 1 subjected myself to testing upon my own person the effects of exclusive feeding upon several other foods in turn, as often as I could find time to do so. My eyes opened to the vast reach of the field before me. I had found a door standing ajar, through which I began to get glimmerings of fight in the right direction. In September, 1856, I hired six well and hearty men to come and five with me, as I myself would five, on baked beans. This experiment and its results are fully described further on. In 1857 I engaged four other well men to live with me upon oatmeal porridge solely for thirty days. That experiment is also given in detail hereafter. In 1858 I took nearly 2,000 hogs in separate lots and in different pens, so that I might test various modes of feeding them, and carry my experiments on to the death point, as could not be done with men. In order to be sure of all my data, I tended, fed and dissected them myself ; it was not work that could be done with kid gloves on ! These experiments also are fully given in subsequent pages. Later on I employed men from time to time to hve with me on other kinds of food, one kind at a time : some of the results of such living are duly given under their proper headings. By 1858 I began to understand from what Cause all our diseases emanate, excepting those arising from injuries, poisons and infections, and to hope that the day was not far distant when I should be able to cure them. While prosecuting my studies upon feeding on one food at a time, I was taking every opportunity to get at the true Causes of infectious diseases. I began the study of smallpox germs in 1850, and worked at it fifteen years before I aUowed myself to say or publish anything upon the subject.^ In 1862 I worked up the measles germ and its source.^ In 1862-63 I devoted much time to the causes of intermittent 'and remittent fevers and tracing them to their source.^ During this period I also gave considerable attention to the study and discovery of the germ which produces diphtheria, asthma, and so on.* Having satisfied myself as to the Causation of Disease, my next step was to complete a therapeutic system which should meet the facts in the case and attain the end in view, — that of combating a pathological groundwork by removing its cause, and thus efeecting a radical cure. The publication of this work in its entirety has been delayed over twenty years, m order that sufficient cures of so-called " incurable " maladies might place both discovery and method of treatment beyond all reasonable doubt. Hundreds of cures now attest to their utility, not alone in my own practice, but also in that of other physicians of high repute, both here and in England.
In so far as the history of Consumption, in all its phases, is concerned, I do not at this juncture propose to do more than file a caveat, and give a clear outline of the Cause, development and cure of the disease. The result of my labors is given at some length in the ensuing chapters, together with other matter to be also more amply elaborated as tune may serve. Medical terminology has somewhat changed since the writing of this work, but it is deemed best to leave this as it stood at the date of writing. The medical graduate of to-day will still have no difficulty in understanding these terms, and it is to him and to his comrades that this book is especially dedicated, in the hope that through its means the sohcitude which clouded the outset of my career may be removed from theirs. New York, March, 1888.