The word auto-intoxication has come to mean in late popular sense a self-poisoning or infection of the body from a disease focus within the large intestine arising in putrefying material. As a matter of fact the word is wrongly used as it really applies to any secondary infection, whatever the primary source within the body. The theory of the infection of the body from the large bowel (intestinal intoxication or infection) has taken root and flourished amazingly although there are a few authorities who have accepted it with certain qualifications.
Sir Arbuthnot Lane, the eminent abdominal surgeon of London, has been in a position for many years of making interesting first-hand observations on this important subject and probably no authority can be quoted who gives more vigorous support to the theory.
The first result of intestinal-intoxication, he says, in his book Intestinal Stases is the decrease of fat (loss of weight), which is a marked feature in most cases and is, perhaps, the first evidence that the individual is failing to deal with the poisonous matter that is destroying the structure and impairing the function of every one of the tissues of the body. The removal of the pelvic fat results usually in a backward displacement of the fundus of the uterus. Intestinal intoxication plays so large a part in the development of diseases of the female genito-urinary organs that many specialists in those diseases believe that these pelvic conditions may be a product of intestinal stasis.’
As regards the attractiveness of woman, the loss of fat is a matter of vital importance to her happiness.
The skin undergoes remarkable changes in the formation of wrinkles, the prominence of bones, flatness and flaccidity of the buttocks, droopiness of the breasts, and increasing pigmentations (discoloration). The neck becomes brown, later almost chocolate colored. The skin of the armpits, abdomen, adjacent aspects of the thighs and the covering processes of the spine become darker and darker. The secretions of the flexures of the colon become abundant and offensive. The hair becomes dry, is rapidly lost either because of impaired nutrition of the cells or from the invasion of the roots by micro-organisms. In the young subject there is often a new growth of fine hair over the lower part of the face, down the back and over the forearms. These all disappear more or less completely with an improvement of the conditions’
The muscular system degenerates in a marked manner, the voluntary muscles wasting and tearing easily. In consequence the individual frequently assumes positions of rest. The relaxation of the muscle wall of the abdomen deprives it of its function of compressing the viscera efficiently in defecation with the result of a large accumulation in the pelvic colon. The muscular wall of the intestine wastes in a similar manner. The large intestine has no rounded form but, being inelastic, puddles in the floor of the true pelvis, forming innumerable bends through which its contents are advanced with great difficulty. In one group of cases the heart is soft and flabby with blood pressure subnormal; while in another the left heart is definitely enlarged, the aorta (the large artery of the heart) dilated and its walls weakened by fatty de-generation as are those of all the vessels, and the blood pressure is abnormally high. In the cases of the syphilitic individual (sex disease) these changes become more marked when associated with intestinal intoxication. Inflammatory or degenerative changes in the kidneys are much more commonly associated with the second group (high blood pressure) than with the first’
The toxins (poisons) appear to exert a specially depreciating influence on the respiratory center. Symptoms which are typically asthmatic in character are not infrequently seen in this condition, while minor varieties are commonly present.
Perhaps the worst feature of chronic intestinal stasis is the distressing and depressing effects on the nervous system. Sometimes the depression and melancholia are so great as to lead to fear of suicide. Familiar symptoms are headache, sleeplessness and inability to perform any mental or physical exertion. The favorite diagnosis for these cases of intestinal infection is neurasthenia (nerve weakness). So-called neuritis (disease of the nerves) is a frequent complication. It varies commonly in severity from violent neuralgic twitching, resembling epilepsy, to sciatica (neuralgia of the sciatic nerve felt at the back of the thigh and sometimes running down the calf of the leg) of a mild type. Often the pains are described as rheumatic.
At first in females the breast presents characteristic hardening which commences in the upper and outer zone of the left breast, subsequently extending entirely over both. Cystic or other degenerative changes may ensue and at a later period cancer may appear with remarkable frequency in these damaged organs. The author has found as many as seven distinct nodules of possible cancer in a hard, lumpy breast in which the presence of that disease was not suspected. One of the most remarkable results of removing the source of intestinal infection is the rapidity with which even extreme degrees of degeneration of the breast disappear and the organ regains its normal form and texture after operation on the intestine. That the skin, lessened in vitality and resisting power, becomes invaded by various organisms that produce many of the skin diseases, is familiar to us all. The most common affection perhaps is the formation of pimples on the face and body.
The presence of tubercle in the body, except by direct inoculation, is believed by Lane to be always preceded by intestinal infection. Where the intestine is involved the disease commences at the termination of the ileum (end of the small intestine). It manifests itself in the angle between the ileum and cecum, or it may have, associated with glandular enlargement, a number of ulcers extending upward at intervals along the small intestine. Associated with this intestinal infection, or independently of it, tubercle may be present in the median space dividing the right and left lung cavities. Tubercular infection is, unfortunately, frequently not a pure infection, but is aided in its destructive power by a variety of other organisms?.
Chronic articular rheumatism, like tubercle, is never present except in association with intestinal intoxication. Its severity may be accentuated by the presence of any other infection which exists in consequence of the stasis, such as infection of the uterus, gums, nasal and associated membranes, etc., and some relief may be obtained by dealing with these secondary infections.
The thyroid (a large, ductless gland at the lower part of the neck, an enlargement of which is caller goiter), is liable to various infections which cause the several forms of disease of that organ, such as exophthalmic goiter (characterized by palpitation of the heart), general hypertrophy (enlargement), the development of out-side tumors, of cysts (a cavity containing fluid and surrounded by a capsule or membrane) ‘and finally cancer, “None of these conditions can arise except in the presence of intestinal intoxication.”
To the list of diseases traceable by Lane to intestinal infection, based on his surgical experience, Kellogg, also a surgeon of wide experience, adds a still more formidable list. He asserts that “poisons that cause the rise of blood pressure are produced in the intestines. Bain found these poisons present in the blood of persons who have high blood pressure, showing that they are retained in the body.”
These poisons have been shown by experiment to be capable of producing nephritis (disease of the kidneys) when absorbed from the mucous membrane as well as when injected.
Mantle agreed with Sir Bertrand Dawson that inflammation of the mucous membrane of the colon as well as inflammation of the stomach and catarrh of the upper section of the small intestine may be due to infection from the vermiform appendix. That many people seem to be well, even though they suffer from constipation, is due to the fact that the natural defenses of the body are not yet broken down. Toxins do not readily find their way into the circulation until after the mucous membrane of the intestine has its surface broken or ulcerated as the result of chronic infection. Sir Lauder Brunton is quoted with approval to the effect that the colon bacillus seems to have a special power of producing fatigue toxins, and many people in whom it exists in great abundance suffer from constant weariness and fatigue. Brunton’s tentative assignment of inflammation of the joints, previously mentioned by Lane, as belonging to the same category, is also endorsed. Dr. Beezly Thorn is quoted approvingly to the effect that there are few phases of heart-and-blood circulation trouble with which disorder of some part of the alimentary tract is not causatively associated. Dr. Bottentuit personally in-formed the writer (Kellogg) “that practically all subjects of long-standing colitis presented myocardial weakness (inflammation of the muscular tissue of the heart) generally with dilatation.” A. E. Garrod is quoted that “it has long been an article’ of faith that continued indiscretions in diet and overeating cause chronic arterial and renal (kidney) disease.” He quotes further in support of his thesis that Dr. Mellanby, lecturer on physiology, King’s College for Women, England, says that several powerful poisons which he names are found in the intestine and that-two of them raise the blood pressure. That the above poison may be responsible for arterio-sclerosis (inflammation of the walls of the arteries) seems to have been proved by the work of Harvey, who produced marked hardening of the arteries and a kidney condition resembling the large white kidney, by giving small quantities of these substances by mouth to animals over pro-longed periods. Dr. Alfred C. Jordan, “an eminent x-ray expert,” is quoted to the effect that in many subjects intestinal stasis is marked in radiographic evidence of atheroma (fatty degeneration of the walls of the arteries), likewise of the aorta (the large heart artery) at an unusually early ageanother instance of the havoc wrought, says Jordan, on the tissues by intestinal poisons.
Dr. J. F. Birscoe is quoted with approval: “Who has not seen a prodigious evacuation of `the bowels at the hands of the physician, terminate a case of insanity,” and Dr. Lennox Wainwright, “physician to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children” (city not stated), is brought to the support of the statement that he is quite sure that the mental effect on many patients of prolonged intestinal toxemia is such as to make them almost demented, and he believes that if many of our asylums were invaded by a good physician who would approach the subject without any preconceived idea, many cases of melancholia and hypochondria (both disorders of the mind) would yield to common-sense treatment.
The foul condition of the breath speaks volumes of what may be suspected lower down, although the patient may not be constipated (in the usual sense). On this subject, 182 pages away, Dr. Kellogg drops into instructive anecdote. Some years ago a man who had fasted for three weeks consulted the writer on the 21st day of his fast. He had begun the fast for the purpose of getting rid of a foul tongue, a bad breath and various disorders which were clearly the result of chronic intestinal poisoning. He was disappointed in finding that all the symptoms had become worse. His tongue was heavily coated, his breath very foul, he was sleepless and greatly depressed and nervous. On inquiry it appeared that his bowels had not moved once during the entire three weeks. In answer to a question he remarked, “I took an enema the day before I began to fast and I have eaten nothing since; of course, my bowels have not moved as there is nothing to be moved!” A saline laxative was administered at once and within 24 hours the patient had several large and offensive stools and was greatly relieved. Needless to say this patient was cured of his desire to fast.
The author quotes with approval Dr. H. G. Adamson, physician in charge of the Skin Department of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, that there are many skin diseases chargeable to this cause.
Ernest Clark, the eminent eye surgeon of Downing College, Cambridge, England, is quoted on degenerative changes in the eye, that although not generally recognized, the eye is an organ that registers in a very delicate manner certain conditions of the system, and amongst them intestinal toxemia is markedly one. The hardening of the lens may be delayed by the absence of, and accelerated by the presence of, certain poisons in the system, and intestinal toxemia takes a very high place in the list. One individual has an accommodative power of only 2 1/2 diameters while another of about the same age has 8 1/2. What is the difference between the two? In the first the lens has hardened prematurely and is only equal to the lens of a man of 55. That is, he is suffering from premature old age and, in the great majority of cases, in physical appearance, habits and powers, he is aged 55. There are many causes which advance this premature senility, but the factor common to a very large majority of them is intestinal stasis. On the other hand, those whose accommodative power is higher than normal look much younger, and on going into their history it will be found invariably that they have taken the greatest care to avoid the least suspicion of intestinal stasis. This premature senility of the lens is another proof of the truth of the old saying that a man is as old as his arteries; the premature hardening of the blood vessels often taking place at the same time as the process in the lens.
Commenting on the observations of Clark, Kellogg cites three of his own cases. A young woman of 18 found her sight failing. She needed glasses usually worn by persons of 50. By a change of regimen and improved bowel action the abnormality in a few weeks disappeared.
A college professor of 50 wearing glasses adapted to physiological long sightedness of advancing age, after following a changed regimen for a few months, found that his eyes improved to such a degree that he had the same range of accommodation as a normal person of 50.
A physician of 60 who had adopted a laxative, aseptic regimen (that would not be a source of putrefaction) found his glasses uncomfortable, and on examination by an oculist discovered that his glasses were ten years too old for him. A change was made to younger glasses and he was still wearing them at 66, although they were adapted to a person of 50.
In these cases, Kellogg says, the rejuvenation of the eyes was accompanied by the disappearance of numerous symptoms of senility, and a great increase in physical vigor and endurance.
Intestinal intoxication, says Hurst, is probably due more to the abnormally long period during which the feces are retained in the intestines and to the consequent excessive absorption of poisons than to any increase in bacterial decomposition.
The hepatic and splenic flexures of the colon being in contact with the kidneys, infection of the kidney may possibly result from the direct passage of the bacillus coli (bacilli of the colon, believed to be normally present but readily become virulent) from the intestines when constipation occurs. The more common infection of the right kidney would then receive an additional explanation in its close lymphatic connections (through lymph canals) with the cecum and ascending colon and in the more fluid consistence of their contents.
Adami showed that when stasis occurs in the colon, especially in the cecum and ascending colon, where the contents are fluid and living bacteria most abundant, an excessive number may reach the blood. Those that es-cape destruction in the liver and spleen are excreted by the kidneys and pyelitis (inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney) may result. In the British Medical Journal the same author says that when excess of bacteria are circulating in the blood they may collect in various situations where they break down and set free toxins which may destroy the cells in the neighborhood and cause the connective tissue to proliferate (the multiplication of similar forms, especially of cells and morbid cysts). He believes that infection due to weakening of resisting cells from constant effort is overcoming toxic cells; also a condition in which bacteria become destroyed, and with their destruction liberate toxins which poison the cells around them, may account for the association of rheumatism, arthritis (inflammation of joints), and various other conditions with constipation.
Chalmers Watson, commenting on the brilliant experiments of Carrel, of the Rockefeller Institute, New York, who found that living tissues growing in a sterile medium could have their life indefinitely extended by washing away the toxic products associated with the vital processes, says the conditions in the human being as a result of intestinal toxemia are, for practical purposes, identical with the above. As a result of imperfect removal of bowel waste slowly acting poisons are absorbed into the system, and induce the clinical manifestations (that is during the period of treatment) of toxemia.
Watson confirms what has already been said of rheumatoid arthritis (chronic inflammation of the joints). As a result of a close study of this disease for many years he has been led to share the view of its infective origin, the source of the infection being invariably one of the three mucous surfaces of the body. In the great majority of cases the infection comes from the gastrointestinal tract, the mouth and the teeth being not in-frequently primary factors in this intestinal infection. In the remaining cases the infection comes from the genito-urinary tract or the membrane of the lungs or bronchial tubes. He is satisfied that the disease is essentially curable in its early stages, and that if early cases were adequately investigated and appropriate treatment applied to the main source of the infection (the gastro-intestinal tract) we would soon see a profound change in the incidence of the disease, in the severe forms at the present met with.
“The Book of Diet” ; Lectures on Gout, Rheumatism and Intestinal Disorders. In Edinburgh Medical Journal, 1914.
In his new book on the “Conquest of Cancer” (December, 1923) Robert Bell, physician in charge of Cancer Research, Battersea Hospital, London, and vice-president of the International Society of Cancer Research, takes a strong position that cancer is caused by a contamination of the blood stream through intestinal putrefaction. He is also strongly in favor of medical treatment of cancer by injection and against surgical interference, having witnessed many cases of the development of malignancy from simple tumors through surgical operations. His cases are impressive.